CHR clears Army battalion, puts closure to double murder case

August 12, 2015 5:13 am 

DUMAGUETE CITY, Aug. 11 — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has put a closure to the double murder and arson case against a couple in Barangay Tacpao, Guihulngan City, Negros Oriental, and has also cleared members of the 11th Infantry Batallion of the Philippine Army based in the same city who were tagged as the alleged perpetrators of the crime.

The CHR’s findings through Dr. Jesus Cañete disclosed that documents found at the crime scene showed otherwise, that the couple, Rosalie and Endric Calago were killed and burned by members of the Leonardo Panaligan Command of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Cañete appeared before the regular meeting of the Provincial Peace and Order Council (PPOC) Tuesday afternoon to exonerate the 11th IB of any responsibility as claimed by the family of the victims, particularly the two Calago children.

Part of the findings showed leaflets found at the crime scene, all written in Ilonggo, which hinted at the couple being “punished” for acts contrary to the interest of the NPA.

Cañete said giving weight to the assertion of the family that the Philippine Army is responsible for the crime in spite of the claim of the LPC, would be ridiculous.

Another evidence recovered by police investigators is a leaflet found along Magsaysay Street, in Guihulngan City, printed in the Ilonggo dialect, referring to the deaths of the Calago couple as similar to the attack against George Sadagnot, a barangay captain, and his wife, for crimes committed against the NPA.

Sadagnot was killed while the wife survived the attack, Cañete said.

The leaflet further read in Ilonggo that Sadagnot and Calago and other officials are actively supporting the Oplan Bayanihan of the government.

The CHR field investigator said the statements are manifestations of condemnations to politicians who abused and exploited the farmers of Tacpao and failed to address their welfare, as well as dislike to the concept of peace and development brought about by the military, Rosalie Calago being a barangay health worker and Endric being a barangay kagawad who supports the program of government.

According to Cañete, the manner by which the crime was committed portrays a “personalized” hatred, condemnation, and intense indignation which could not possible come from a formal governmental organization, an over-kill, cruelly-detailed, barbaric and time-consuming, which ran counter to a quick, operationally viable and personnel-secured operation.

He said the perpetrators are not concerned that their identities will be known and that the leaflets could not have been strewn around by them while the house was still burning as these could have been also burnt.

The perpetrators waited until the fire died down and placed the leaflets around the burnt area. This means the culprits stayed in the area for not less than 30 minutes, said Cañete in his presentation to the Provincial Peace and Order Council.

The testimony of Marcela Madroniro, sister of Endric Calago, that she did not see anyone except having heard voices at the time the crime was committed, is doubtful.

To recall, more than 60 empty shells or two full loads of the banana-type of magazines of an M16 Armalite rifle were recovered by police at the crime scene.

In an area noted for its insurgency problem, any combatant would be stupid to waste ammunition on a target that only needs two rounds. It is probable that there were more or less 10 perpetrators instead of just two or a few more, Cañete added.

Furthermore, a burning house made of cogon could light up the entire place, therefore it was impossible for Marcela not to see anyone. Marcela could have seen them and she knows them but is fearful to tell the truth, he added.

Cañete went on to say there is a hint of a pattern when the documents found relate to another previous crime describing the same motive, the same underlying reasons and almost the same manner of commission, i.e. the murder of another barangay official of the same locality.

Canete’s report will now form part of the report being submitted to the regional office, to be furnished the central office of the CHR, of which the United Nations Special Committee may ask copies of the same, to erase impressions made by cause oriented groups the brutal act was perpetrated by the Philippine Army.

However, Canete made it clear, he cannot force the cause-oriented groups to refrain from making statements contrary to the findings which is evidence-based. He reiterates that unless the Leonardo Panaligan Command will issue a disclaimer that will necessitate another investigation, the findings will stay. (PNA)

LAP/JFP/JG

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