Grecil’s body to be exhumed for autopsy

Grecil, eldest daughter of Virginia Buya and Gregorio Galacio, and whom the military claimed was a “child soldier” of the New People’s Army, was buried April 10 in the public cemetery in New Bataan, Compostela Valley, some 6.2 kilometers from their house in Purok 6, Barangay Kahayag, the site of the encounter.

Grecil had just finished Grade 2 at the Simsimen Elementary School in New Bataan.

Kelly Delgado, secretary general of Karapatan Southern Mindanao, said Grecil’s parents agreed to have her remains exhumed for investigation.

Honey Mae Suazo of KABIBA; Renato Macaspag of SALINLAHI; Prof. Luzviminda Ilagan, National Chair of Gabriela Women's  Party; Virginia Buya, Grecil's mother; Gregorio Galacio, Grecil 's father; Girley Layaguin,  Program Director of Children Rehabilitation Center and Kelly M. Delgado, secretary-general of Karapatan Souhern Mindanao during a press conference Monday in Davao City. Photo courtesy of Karapatan.

The autopsy was among 13 recommendations of the National Interfaith Psychosocial First-Aid Mission which probed Grecil's death on April 14.

Delgado said they will be asking the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct the autopsy to see whether she died from close range fire.

Delgado said this is to establish the liability of the military, which claimed she was a child soldier of the New Peoples Army.

Delgado also said the International Parliamentary Union (IPU) which has sent two of its delegates to look into the alleged persecution of Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo and Anakpawis Rep. Crispin Beltran, will also look into Grecil’s case.

He said Grecil’s parents are now in Manila to meet with IPU officials.

Delgado said they will be asking the National Bureau of Investigation to conduct an autopsy to see whether she died from a close range fire.

Brig. Gen. Carlos Holganza, chief of the 1001st Infantry Brigade, last week told reporters he is inclined to believe the girl was not a combatant but was holding back its apologies pending investigation on "minor" issues, including the possibility that Grecil’s father was  an NPA member.

The military has filed a complaint against Galacio for alleged illegal possession of firearms. Soldiers reported to having seized two firearms and “subversive documents”  from his house after the encounter on March 31.

The first aid mission also recommended psychological rehabilitation and therapy of Grecil's younger siblings; for the Arroyo government to implement the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) citing Grecil's death a concrete violation of the convention; for the government to implement Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) to protect the rights of civilians and non-combatants.

The mission also urged local government units and government agencies, including the Commission on Human Rights, to assume responsibility over reported cases of human rights violations; pushed for a court trial for the alleged perpetrators of the violations and called for indemnification and assistance of and to victims and survivors restore them to normalcy.

"Restitution and rehabilitation, especially for the women, children and the elderly, the sick and the disabled would certainly help these people get on with their normal lives again," the mission statement said.

The mission also called for the immediate pull-out of all troops and military installations in New Bataan and other neighboring areas “to avoid aggravating the trauma of the residents.”

It also urged child rights advocates and politicians running for office, to condemn Grecil's death.

It also pledged to support Grecil’s family in bringing the case to the regional trial court, to complain before the Commission on Human Rights and the Joint Secretariat of the Joint Monitoring Committee of the CAHRIHL, the Geneva Committee on the Rights of the Child and to Philip Alston, the UN Rapporteur for Extra Judicial Killing.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) regional office here is yet to release results of its own probe on the death of Grecil. A CHR team left for New Bataan on April 12 and was expected to make its report at the earliest, on Monday (April 16).

MindaNews checked with the CHR Tuesday and was told the team led by Emiliano Cajes, is due to return to Davao on April 18. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)