Fascists desecrate remains of martyred Red fighter
In Duterte’s dirty counterinsurgency war, not even the dead are spared from abuse.
Violating international laws that prohibit the desecration of the dead, soldiers of the 501st Infantry Brigade dug up the grave of Justine Bautista, a martyred Red warrior, in Sitio Kapanisuwan, Barangay Bitag Grande, Baggao, Cagayan last January 23.
It was an attempt at scoring media points, but which has rather exposed the Philippine military’s blatant disrespect for the remains of an adversary in an armed conflict. As if digging up the grave was not severe enough, photographs of the exhumed remains, as well as soldiers parading the cadaver, were publicized on social media and were also distributed to news organizations.
Refuting the military’s claim of an improper burial, Guillermo Alcala of the New People’s Army (NPA)-Cagayan Valley said that it may be bereft of adornments, but one typical of a poor man’s interment. He added that Red fighters of the NPA take utmost joy in serving the people and offering their lives when circumstances warrant. “They do not seek any reward, much less a ‘fine’ burial,” Alcala said.
Alcala also lambasted the 501st IBde for digging up Bautista’s remains and violating the person’s dignity by displaying the body as a trophy.
In most civilized societies and cultures, exhuming the dead is done with circumspect, as this offends the basic moral premise of allowing the dead to “rest in peace.” Also, public health concerns on the potential transmission of disease from decaying corpses are considered.
But for the Philippine military, flaunting its desecration of the remains of enemy combatants aims to goad the revolutionary forces and instill fear upon the community. These types of inhumane treatment are the subjects of the Geneva Conventions protocols and other instruments on international humanitarian law and international criminal law.
Aptly called by Alcala as “sepulturero (gravedigger),” the Philippine military is notorious for numerous desecrations of remains. In 2000 and 2006, soldiers dug up skeletons from what is believed to be a community cemetery in Leyte and misrepresented these as victims of NPA purges discovered in mass graves. Last November 2020, soldiers took photos of themselves with the dead body of martyred Red fighter Jevilyn Cullamat. ###