Child rights group Save Our Schools (SOS) condemned the killing of Chad Booc, a volunteer teacher in the countryside, and four other civilians on Thursday (Feb 24), calling it a "bloody massacre" contrary to the military's claim that it was an armed encounter.
A report from the 10th Infantry Division claimed that the "armed encounter" happened in Purok-8, Barangay Andap, New Bataan, Davao de Oro between the military and alleged members of the Communist Terrorist Group (CTGs). They announced that Booc and another Lumad school volunteer teacher, Gelejurain Ngujo II and three others were killed in three gun battles in New Bataan.
In a statement released on Friday (Feb 25) SOS countered that locals in Barangay Andap said there was no "armed encounter" that happened in their barangay on Feb 24.
“What the AFP claims as an 'encounter' is in fact a massacre of civilians in the area. And in its attempt to justify these gruesome killings, the armed forces once again twist the truth to play into their narrative as they have done many times before,” they said.
The group noted in the statement that the 101st Infantry Brigade of the AFP allegedly paraded the bodies of the five individuals as ‘war trophies’. They also alleged that the military planted the guns and ammunition recovered from the victims.
Marco Valbuena, chief information officer of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) further confirmed that the New People’s Army (NPA) unit in the province reported there were no encounters in the area contrary to the military’s claim.
The military reported that they found one M653 rifle, one caliber .45 pistol, one hand grenade, one anti-personnel mine, assorted food supplies, and personal belongings.
Various human rights groups called for justice and further investigation of the incident.
“Together with the victims’ families, the Save Our Schools Network demands justice and a thorough investigation for Chad, for Jurain, and the other victims of the massacre. We enjoin our fellow advocates to call to address the root causes of armed conflict and resume peace talks!” SOS said.
Booc had received numerous death threats before for being vocal against the militarization of Lumad communities and the closure of community schools for children of indigenous families in Mindanao.
The volunteer teacher had taught at the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural Development (ALCADEV) in Surigao del Sur before it was closed down after being red-tagged by the military.
Pola Rubio is a news writer and photojournalist covering Philippine politics and events. She regularly follows worldwide and local happenings. The views expressed are her own.
Watch more videos on Yahoo: