This is ultimately a product of public vigilance and pressure by human rights defenders aided also by conscientious legal work.
By KARL G. OMBION
In a court hearing yesterday April 18 held at RTC Branch 55, Himamaylan City, Adjutant General Alexis Gopico and Lt. Col Ricardo B Bayhon, Commander of 61st IB, 303rd Brigade of the 3rd Infantry Division positively identified the two suspects in the brutal murder of activist Benjamin Bayles as military enlisted men.
Edre Olalia, legal counsel of the victim’s family, and Secretary General of National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL), confirmed this report.
Bayles was murdered last June 14 2010 by two suspects who claimed to be Roger Bajon and Ronnie Caurino when they were captured by Himamaylan police operatives hours after the incident. The two were later identified by the victim’s kin and militant organizations as soldiers under the 61st IB.
Olalia said “the confirmation, positive identification and specific personal pinpointing of the killers of activist Benjamen Bayles by top army officials as enlisted personnel under their command is a welcome development and a high point in making perpetrators of extra judicial killings accountable.”
This is ultimately a product of public vigilance and pressure by human rights defenders aided also by conscientious legal work, Olalia stressed.
The NUPL official also said that “amid strong evidence, the military was compelled to admit this fact. But it remains to be seen if this leads to a deeper investigation, determination of other guilty parties, including possibly, superior officers. The accused who are lowly private first class personnel maybe sacrificial dispensable small fry to stop the investigation and let masterminds escape identification and prosecution.”
“As in other cases, like that of Jonas Burgos, extra judicial killings and enforced disappearances and other rights violations, there is no closure until there is full justice for the victims,” Olalia concluded.