Rights group denounces recent killing of Lumad youth in Sultan Kudarat

KARAPATAN condemns the extrajudicial killing of a Lumad youth in Sen. Ninoy Aquino, Sultan Kudarat on June 8, 2024 and calls on the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to conduct an investigation.

According to reports, Kuni Cuba, 16, a Manobo-Dulangan youth on a scholarship who would have been in 10th grade this coming school year, was walking with his brother and three others in Sitio Kiluding, Barangay Kiadsam, Sen. Ninoy Aquino when they were chanced upon by soldiers from the 7th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IBPA) conducting an operation. The soldiers immediately fired on the group, but three of them were able to take cover at a nearby corn field and tell the truth about the incident.

The 7th IBPA has reportedly agreed to an amicable settlement with Cuba’s parents, in apparent admission that the boy’s killing was a mistake. “It is a 180-degree turn from a statement made by 7th IBPA commanding officer Lt. Col. Tristan Vallescas to Bombo Radyo Koronadal just hours after Cuba’s killing, that his troops had allegedly encountered an NPA group with eight members led by a certain Cranzo,“ said KARAPATAN secretary general Cristina Palabay.

Palabay said civilians killed in fake encounters constitute the biggest number of victims of Marcos Jr.’s counter-insurgency war. “These civilians are made out to have been killed in fabricated encounters between military or police forces and the New People’s Army (NPA).”

KARAPATAN documented 67 victims in these fake encounters from the time Marcos Jr. began his term in July 2022 to December 2023. “The victims are ordinary peasants who were either deliberately targeted by the military on mere suspicion of supporting the NPA or indiscriminately killed in the

counter-insurgency war,” said Palabay. “To escape scrutiny and accountability for these human rights violations, the military falsely portrays the civilian victims as armed rebels.”

“We call on the CHR to get to the bottom of this in order to attain justice for Kuni Cuba and exact accountability from his killers,” said Palabay. #