Justice for Boy Brutally Killed By NPA Rebels Sought

(Left) Photo of Justin Padao, the 10-year-old boy killed by NPA rebels. (Right) Remnants of the house burned down by the NPA.

DAVAO ORIENTAL – The Provincial Peace and Order Council strongly condemns the atrocities of the New People’s Army Rebels especially on the brutal killing of a ten-year-old boy.

The Council, during its meeting on June 27, passed a resolution condemning the “heartless” killing and the subsequent burning of the house where the child had stayed.

Lt. Col. Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, Commander of the 67th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, called on the people of Davao Oriental to help fight the “bandits” by speaking up against their atrocities and to rally support in seeking justice for the child.

“This is plain and simple murder,” Obligado said, describing the act as “grotesquely evil”. “Now is the time to make a stand. Killing an innocent and helpless child is simply unacceptable,” he added.

Justin Padao was sound asleep, dawn of June 25, when a group of about 12 armed NPA rebels stormed the house where he was staying at Sitio Poblacion in the remote village of PM Sobrecarey in Caraga town.

What’s left of the child’s personal belongings after the house was burned down.

Witnesses said the rebels showered the house with bullets from high-powered firearms causing the child’s small body to become “horrifyingly” disfigured due to impact. “It was a horrific scene,” said the house owner Emmanuel Matilac.

Matilac, who works as a barangay tanod (peacekeeper), said he, a fellow tanod and two CAFGU members were the main targets and have been receiving threats for assisting the military in their peace efforts. Matilac said that he and his three companions were inside the house while it was being attacked and barely escaped with their lives.

After the attack, the rebels set his house on fire, burning all of his belongings. “Honestly, I did not resent the loss of my house, but what they did to that poor child was just inhumane,” a teary Matilac said.

The boy’s father, Leo, who works with Matilac as tanod, is distraught over the killing of his only son. “I can’t eat or sleep thinking of how my child had suffered. I can’t understand why they have to attack that house. It wasn’t a military detachment but a civilian’s house,” he said. “My boy was innocent and helpless. I cannot understand why they had to kill him and all so brutally,” he lamented.

Justin, a fifth grader at Pantuyan Elementary School, was described by his father and teachers as an obedient and a kind child. He dreamt of being a soldier one day – a dream cut short by a tragic and meaningless death.

Outraged citizens who thought of the crime as “disturbing” and “cowardly”, say this is a clear act of the violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).

The public needs a full and transparent accounting of what transpired, said top military officials in the province, saying that concerned parties need to break the silence and speak out.

Amid the violence, military and police leaders are beefing up the security efforts here. Checkpoint areas jointly consisting of soldiers and police are being set up all over the province. Police and military visibility are being intensified considering that the province is at the height of its peace and development efforts.

Col. Reuben Basiao, Commander of the 701st Brigade of the Philippine Army, urges the public to be calm and cooperate with the authorities.

Governor Nelson L. Dayanghirang, who has offered the victims financial aid, strongly condemned the killing and sent condolences to the family of the victim. He stressed that the killing is unacceptable and that civilians must never be targeted, whether deliberate or unintentional.

He is now calling on everyone for sobriety. “Let not this incident of violence envelope us with fear. As a community, let us stand together and unite.  Let us come and work together to suppress violence. Let us help to become part of the solution by pitching in on the peace efforts.” DavOr

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