By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – The bodies of three of the five victims in the New Bataan massacre were finally released to their families, according to Save our Schools Network.
On Tuesday, March 1, volunteer teacher Chad Booc and community health worker Elegyn Balonga were claimed by their families. Today, March 2, volunteer teacher Gelejurain Ngujo II was also released to his family and brought back to his hometown in North Cotabato.
Booc’s body on the other hand is still in Davao de Oro.
Finally,after 5 days nakita na ng Papa ko si Chad (01st March-9:00AM)?nakita ko na din mukha niya sa picture.?You deserve a proper burial @KasamangChad! Sabi pa nga ng militar sa pamilya ko nung 25Feb,ITAPON nlng daw katawan niya!Apakasahol! Apakahayop!#JusticeForChadBooc
— ?????? ??????? ????? (@jennahlovesblue) March 1, 2022
The SOS Network said the families noted wounds and bruises on the bodies of the victims. They also condemned the harassment experienced by the families.
According to SOS Network, soldiers were visible at the funeral home when the families were processing the release of the bodies of their loved ones.
On March 1, SOS said a certain Ivan Bautista, who introduced himself as a military clerk, tried asking the families for the victims’ personal details and offered to process their documents such as death certificates. The families declined Bautista’s offer, explaining that they can process the necessary documents by themselves, the SOS Network said.
Lt. Col. Michael Aquino from the 25th Infantry Brigade (IB) also inquired why Booc was in New Bataan. The group said that they have already answered this in their past statements.
Ngujo’s family was also tailed by a vehicle carrying non-uniformed military officers despite insisting that they do not need to be assisted by the military. They added that non-uniformed military officers are still seen loitering within the vicinity as of today, March 2.
SOS Network is also calling on Lumad advocates, friends, families, and support groups to help in amplifying the call for the bodies to be returned without delay or further difficulty from state forces.
Meanwhile, on Feb. 28, the Makabayan bloc filed House Resolution 2500 condemning and asking for a probe on the massacre. Meanwhile, Booc’s family members are overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support following his unexpected death. They asked supporters to continue to pray for peace and justice for his death and donations for the funeral expenses.
Booc, Ngujo and three others were killed in a massacre in New Bataan, Davao de Oro. The military claimed that it was an encounter but locals from the area said that there was no encounter that took place between the dates of Feb. 23 to 25. (RTS,RVO)