Philippines: International Probe on Grecil’s Death Urged

May. 02, 2007

DAVAO CITY — Exactly one month after the death of 9-year old Grecil Buya Galacio, an independent investigation has yet to commence, lamented Alphonse Rivera, Spokesperson of SALINLAHI Alliance for Childrens Concerns. Grecil was killed by members of the 28th and 67th IB in New Bataan, Compostella Valley last March 31, 2007. She was initially branded as a child soldier by the military which was later forced to retract their statement after the family and Salinlahi presented evidences proving otherwise.

Commissioner for Mindanao Dominador Calamba of the Commission on Human Rights promised to look into the case after the parents of Grecil, accompanied by the Childrens Rehabilitation Center, had an audience with him last April 18. Unfortunately, until now, the CHR has not issued a resolution on the case. Thus, the familys request for an independent autopsy and financial assistance has yet to be granted, Rivera said.

Rivera urged various international human rights and child rights organizations to conduct an independent investigation on Grecils death and the false and reckless branding of the child as a child soldier. Earlier, the Galacio family was interviewed by members of the Japan Human Rights NOW network, which consequently issued a statement condemning the act and pushing for an independent probe. This was also the call of the recently concluded International Peace Conference at Manila, participated largely by Filipinos and Japanese human rights and child rights advocates.

We hope that international groups will also investigate Grecils murder and condemn the reckless branding of children like Grecil as child soldiers just like they investigated the extra-judicial killings of activists, Rivera said.


SALINLAHI also warned the Army in the Visayas not to issue reckless and unfounded statements on the existence of 18 child soldiers in the Visayas in the last three years. The alleged child soldiers are in the custody of the DSWD.

The AFP has the tendency to charge with rebellion, children and minors found in the vicinity of their military operations. Some had even been tortured or injured. These are children who are merely doing their daily tasks and routines when the military chance upon them and arrest them, Rivera added.

River cited the case of the Benguet punks who were merely on their way to watch a concert in Baguio City when they were arrested by the military. He said several more cases in Cagayan Valley and Quezon involved the arrest of High School students doing their household routines or tending their farms when they were accosted by the military.

The military have already been proven wrong in Grecils case. It was only when human rights and child rights organizations raised their outrage that the military retracted their statement. We expect that they will be more cautious in branding children and minors as child soldiers after this but I guess they have not learned their lesson, Rivera added.

SALINLAHI also urged the UNICEF and other groups that introduced the concept of child soldiers in the Philippine context to further study the applicability of such concept where the government wages a war of terror against its own citizens. Branding children as child soldiers only expose them as easy targets of soldiers in the field as they hide behind the labeling to justify their inhuman acts. This is contrary to the best interest of the child that we want to promote as organizations working for the promotion of rights and welfare of children, Rivera concluded. ###

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