CHR condemns ambush of off-duty soldiers in Cotabato

Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2020 04:03 PM

MANILA - The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has denounced Thursday's rebel attack in Midsayap, Cotabato, where one soldier was killed and another was hurt. 

Off-duty soldiers Private 1st Class Meljay Bernal and Cpl. Earl Tabaranza, both members of the Army’s 34th Infantry Battalion (34IB), were on a motorcycle riding to town when they were attacked. 

Bernal was killed on the spot while Tabaranza was rushed to a hospital. 

Authorities are looking into the involvement of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in the ambush, CHR spokesperson Jacqueline Ann de Guia said.

“The arbitrary attack against soldiers who were not engaged in combat is a direct violation of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Belligerent armed groups are equally expected to comply with principles of IHL and should be held accountable when such human rights abuses are committed,” she said in a statement.

The CHR conveyed its deepest sympathies to Bernal's family as it also hoped for Tabaranza's speedy recovery.

The BIFF is a breakaway group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), which has forged a peace pact with the government.

The CHR also appealed to the government to end the decades-long conflict in Mindanao.

”We appeal to the government to continue with peace negotiations with armed opposition groups to sit down and engage in meaningful dialogues where both parties can fully express their sentiments and arrive at an agreement to achieve sustainable peace,” De Guia said.