By Germelina A. Lacorte
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY — Child-rights advocates have called as “pure lie “the militarys claim that Grecil Buya, the nine-year-old girl whom the military earlier tagged as a child soldier, was hit by bullets coming from members of the communist New Peoples Army (NPA).

Honey May Suazo, executive secretary of the Kabiba Foundation, said Brigadier General Carlos Holganza, chief of 1001st Infantry Brigade, was lying when he said that Grecil was killed by NPA fire during a with firefight with government soldiers on March 31 in New Bataan, Compostela Valley.

Its a big lie, Suazo said, citing testimonies during her group’s fact-finding mission in Grecil’s village, among them from children who said the military rained the place with bullets as the NPA guerrillas were trying to retreat.

The childrens statements were supported by the written affidavits of several people in the community where Grecils house was strafed and ransacked by soldiers, Suazo said. “The children cannot lie.”

Earlier, Holganza cited a Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO) report showing that the rebels, who were positioned at a lower ground, started firing toward the soldiers, who were positioned at a higher ground, while Grecil was at her house when the rebels were retreating.

Grecil had traces of powder burns on her head, an indicator that she was shot at close range, said Holganza.

But according to Kabiba, the SOCO report unconvincing and inconclusive. It did not use impartial and scientific probing methods such as autopsy/forensic, Suazo said.

It is very improbable that the bullets that hit Grecil came from NPA because the rebels were retreating when the military fired at the house where Grecil was staying, she added.

The military had earlier tagged Grecil as an NPA child-combatant and her father an NPA member, which he died. Grecil’s parents, Gregorio Galacio and Virginia Buya, have filed a murder complaint before the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) against soldiers from the 67th Infantry Battalion headed by second Lieutenant Francis John Gabawa.

Grecil’s mother, in their complaint, pointed out that Grecil could not have carried an M16 armalite rifle, as the military earlier claimed because the rifle is almost as tall as the girl.

The commission later exonerated the soldiers, saying that it was a legitimate encounter. It did not determine, however, which bullets killed the girl.

Suazo also denied the militarys claim that childs rights advocates and human rights groups are hiding Grecils parents to force them to build a case against the soldiers. We are giving safe sanctuary to Grecils parents because her father, Gregorio Galacio, was accused of being an NPA member and was threatened with rebellion charges and illegal possession of firearms by the military, Suazo said.

She added that the people of New Bataan had testified that Galacio was not an NPA but a farmer. (Germelina A. Lacorte/

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