Press Release
April 28, 2007


Senator Pia S. Cayetano today supported calls by children's rights groups that an independent autopsy be conducted on the remains of a 9-year-old girl whom soldiers initially tagged as a "child warrior" slain in a military operation in Compostela Valley last month.

"Only an independent autopsy on the remains of the victim, Grecil Galacio, would clarify the circumstances surrounding her wrongful death and put to rest the military's charge that she was a child rebel," said Cayetano.

An impartial autopsy to be led by the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), she added, would verify or dispute reports whether Grecil was shot at close range or was hit in the crossfire, as the military would later claim.

"The findings would be crucial to the investigation and her family's efforts to seek justice," she stressed.

Grecil, a grade three honor pupil, was portrayed by the military as a child warrior killed in an encounter between soldiers and communist rebels in Barangay Kahayag, New Bataan, Compostela Valley in the morning of March 31.

Reports show the soldiers involved in the operation even took pictures of the girl's remains beside a loaded M-16 rifle that was nearly as tall and as heavy as her.

Gen. Carlos Holganza, 101st Infrantry Brigade commander, admitted recently that Grecil may be too young to be a child warrior but maintained that the soldiers could not be held accountable for the girl's death.

Cayetano has written a formal letter calling on CHR to exhume Grecil's remains and initiate an autopsy by an independent forensic expert who was neither connected to the military nor the police. The letter is addressed to CHR chairperson Purificacion Quisumbing and commissioner for Mindanao Dominador Calamba II.

Grecil's parents, Gregorio Galacio and Virginia Buya, along with the Children for Peace Alliance, sought the senator's assistance earlier this week.

Cayetano said she intends to raise Grecil's case to her fellow legislators from other countries at the upcoming 116th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Bali, Indonesia from April 29 to May 4. She is currently First Vice President of the IPU's Coordinating Committee of Women Parliamentarians.

"Protecting the rights of the girl-child and children caught in armed conflicts has been among the main concerns of the IPU, especially women legislators," she said.

She appealed on police authorities to be transparent in their investigation of Grecil's case, and to be ready to press charges on the soldiers depending on the results of the impartial autopsy.

At the same time, she called on armed rebel groups like the New People's Army to respect the 1989 UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other similar statutes that prohibit the use of minors as combatants in armed conflicts.

Lastly, she urged both parties to respect the UN International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World which is being observed from 2001-2010.

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