The remains of three alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA) were seized by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Region 4A from a funeral parlor on August 6, depriving the immediate family of their rights to claim their deceased relative.
The three deceased, identified as Dioscorro Cello, Alex Perdiguerra and Rey Masinas were slain after an alleged encounter with the Regional Mobile Force Battalion (RMFB) 4A in Sitio Balatkahoy, Brgy. San Antonio in Kalayaan, Laguna on August 4.
The immediate family urgently came to the Green Lawn Memorial Services in Calamba, Laguna after having been informed of the death of their relative. However, the remains were no longer there when they arrived.
“Gulat at pighati ang sumalubong sa amin matapos malaman na kinuha ng mga pulis ang bangkay ng aming ama. Ang inaasahan namin na bangkay na sana ay maiuuwi na namin ay naglaho.” Reveleen Cello, daughter of Dioscorro Cello, stated.
Green Lawn confirmed that the remains had safely arrived on August 5. However, after the funeral service performed an autopsy and cremated the remains, PNP once again seized them on August 6 at noon, claiming that they will be the ones to bury the deceased.
Dioscorro Cello, believed to be a high-ranking leader in the NPA, had a bounty on his head worth 3.8 million.
Reveleen Cello went to Camp General Vicente Lim on August 8 with the Humanitarian team of Karapatan Timog Katagalugan, hoping to recover the remains of their deceased. However, the police didn’t allow them to enter the premises.
Reveleen Cello and the humanitarian team waited for three hours to communicate with the proper authorities. However, the only representative sent by RMFB 4A was not in uniform and refused to disclose his name, saying that he had only been ordered to face them.
The family of the deceased called for justice for countless harassment and human rights violations committed by the police.
“Sa halip na kami ay nagdadalamhati sa pagkamatay ng aming mahal sa buhay, nadadagdagan pa ito ng galit at poot dahil ipinagkakait sa amin ng mga pulis ang bangkay ng aming kaanak. Hustisya ang aming hinihingi dahil sa mga ginawang kabrutalan ng mga kapulisan, ngunit, ang kanilang ibinigay ay patuloy na pagkakait sa amin ng karapatan” Reveleen Cello stated.
Kyle Salgado, spokesperson of Karapatan Timog Katagalugan stressed that these incidents are not new, especially under the Duterte regime. Salgado said that Karapatan will continue to call on the police to return the remains of the deceased to their families and to give the deceased a proper burial, in accordance with the International Humanitarian Law.
“Karapatan will remain steadfast along with the people to bring justice to the victims of the state even under this pandemic crisis. NPA or not, it is everyone’s human right to receive a proper and decent burial hosted by their immediate family. We will take necessary actions to hold the perpetrators of such inhumane treatment accountable” Salgado concluded. [P]
Photo credits to Karapatan Timog Katagalugan