De Lima calls for further, independent investigation on killing of ‘New Bataan 5’


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Photo Credit: Rappler

Re-electionist Senator Leila M. de Lima deplored in the strongest sense the alleged barbaric killing of the “New Bataan 5” which included volunteer teacher of Lumad youth Chad Booc.

 De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, said their killing warrants further and independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding their deaths and ensure justice and accountability.

  “I couldn’t even bear to finish reading the news reports on the result of the autopsy done on Chad Booc who was killed with his companions, fellow Lumad school volunteer teacher Jurain Ngujo II, community health worker Elegyn Balonga, and their drivers, Tirso Añar and Robert Aragon.

“It painted a harrowing picture of what could have really happened in the last moments of their young lives. Brutal!  I can’t imagine how their loved ones must have felt,” she said in her Dispatch from Crame No. 1234.

“With the preliminary results of the autopsy done on Chad Booc, it is but right to demand for further, and independent investigation on the incident that led to their deaths,” she added.

Based on the preliminary findings from the autopsy, forensic pathologist Dr. Raquel Fortun said that Booc suffered multiple gunshots to the body, including one that smashed his right elbow.

Booc, Ngujo II, Balonga, Aragon and Añar, were reportedly killed in the alleged clash between Army soldiers and a group of New People’s Army (NPA) rebels in Barangay Andap, New Bataan town on Feb. 24.

“There was an intent to kill. They sustained multiple gunshot wounds and on top of that, it looks like many things are being concealed,” Fortun said.

De Lima maintained that this recent killing incident should prompt Filipinos to continue resisting the culture of impunity under the present administration, which has emboldened more killings and abuses.

 “Impunity murdered these young people who could have lived comfortable lives given their credentials but chose to serve the poor and marginalized,” she said.

“It may be easier to just send our sympathies to their families, ma-shock ng konti tapos move on na, but we shouldn’t.

“We must continue to resist this prevailing culture of impunity and the blatant attempt to desensitize us from these atrocities being done to our people.  Ibalik ang hustisya sa ating bayan,” she added.(30)

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