CHR to investigate killing of 3 Lumad in Surigao del Sur

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 18) – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) on Friday said it will investigate the recent killing of three members of the Lumad-Manobo tribe in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

"Our CHR Regional Office in Caraga will dispatch an investigation team to look into the violent death of these indigenous peoples allegedly perpetrated by the military," the CHR said in a statement.

A 12-year-old girl was among those killed in what the military said was an encounter between government forces and communist rebels. The Armed Forces of the Philippines' Eastern Mindanao Command claimed the victims were members of the New People's Army.

However, human rights group Karapatan identified the three as farmers Willy Rodriguez and Lenie Rivas, and Angel Rivas - a Grade 6 student of the province's Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program.

"The perpetrators are mad killers, with clearly no respect to life and rights. They look at the Lumad people like hunted prey, lying to their teeth and falsely tagging the victims as members of the New People's Army," Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said.

Meanwhile, the CHR urged the government to conduct its own investigation "to bring justice to the death of Willy Rodriguez, Lenie Rivas, and 12-year-old Angel Rivas."

"It also concerning that there are allegations the female victims were sexually assaulted as well," the agency added.

The CHR also extended its deepest sympathies to the families of the victims.