DOJ-NBI findings on Leonard Co death reek of inconsistencies and unsubstantiated conclusions

Posted: January 20, 2011 in Human Rights, Socio-Political
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  1. The DOJ-NBI fact finding panel’s report is anchored primarily on information provided by the 16th IB, some of which were considered vital to national security that these could not even be revealed. Based on the panel’s findings, there was allegedly a crossfire, supporting the earlier claims of the military, and that the bullets that killed Leonard Co, Sofronio Cortez and Julio Borromeo came from the NPA position. The DOJ-NBI says that their probe of the incident site showed that there were shots fired from a lower position. However they did not show any proof of this in their report. The DOJ-NBI panel also disregards the affidavits of the survivors, none of whom saw any NPA’s in the area during the incident.
  2. Regarding the alleged crossfire, the DOJ-NBI report says that 33 trees showed bullet marks. Of these bullet marks, it alleged that there were 4 bullet marks with trajectories coming from the lower grounds to the higher ground (AFP position) and 2 bullet marks with alleged trajectories from the lower grounds to the victims’ position. However, the report also said that 30 bullet trajectories came from the higher grounds going to the lower grounds or the area of the incident. The bullet trajectories coming from the higher grounds far outnumber the alleged bullet trajectories coming from the lower grounds, yet none of the bullets coming from the higher ground killed Leonard Co and company. The state forces say they spent 245 rounds of high caliber ammunition during the operation. None of these rounds hit Leonard and company. Amazing. (The DOJ report shows no material proof of how they concluded certain bullet trajectories came from lower to higher grounds.)
  3. The DOJ says that the bullet fragments found in Leonard Co did not match any of the firearms the AFP submitted. This is hardly surprising since we don’t really expect the AFP to submit the actual firearms used in the operations. There was no one present at the incident site to disarm the AFP personnel and secure their weapons for ballistics tests. There were two cartridge cases that tested positive to a weapon issued to Pfc. Roger Fabillar, a participant in the military operations. However, it is also strange that with 245 rounds being fired, there could have been many other cartridges at the incident site, yet there seems to be no mention if any of these cartridges match the weapons submitted by the AFP.
  4. The DOJ-NBI panel affirms that the AFP occupied the higher ground when it fired on the supposed enemy, who was allegedly occupying the lower ground. Somewhere in between was the team of Leonard Co. The DOJ-NBI panel claims that the shots that killed Leonard and company came from a lower position than that which they were occupying. The independent fact finding mission conducted by the Justice for Leonard Co Movement as well as the affidavits of the survivors dispute this claim. Co and his companions were at “tree 504” facing towards Pad 403 (lowest area) during the incident and thus some of them had their backs facing the higher ground (AFP position). The bullets that entered Leonard’s body came from behind (sa likod ang tama).
  5. The AFP arrived at the site at 11:55 and crawled into position upon sighting what they claim were NPA’s. For 30 minutes they had observed their targets. What is strange is that the soldiers were occupying higher ground and thus had the tactical advantage and element of surprise, yet the AFP claims that it was the NPA who was able to fire first. The DOJ report said that after 30 minutes from the AFP’s arrival, the NPA was able to “sense” the presence of the soldiers and then the NPA fired on the AFP unit.
  6. The alleged gunfight happened allegedly at 12:30nn and lasted 10-15 minutes. The troops allegedly left their position at around 1:10pm and only after around 45 minutes, at 1:50pm did they find 2 civilian casualties, 1 gravely wounded and 1 survivor. Hard to believe since the distance between the position of the soldiers and the EDC team was only 4o meters.
  7. The DOJ-NBI report offers no proof or basis how they came to the conclusion that the trajectory of the shots that killed Co came from a lower position. The amazing explanation offered by the panel, which seems to contradict their earlier statement, is that since the military fired some 245 rounds during the operation, if all these were aimed at Co’s group, none of them will have survived. A tremendous amount of firepower which DOJ-NBI say has the potential of killing the entire group, yet it also says not one bullet from the AFP managed to hit the group.
  8. The DOJ-NBI twisted the affidavits of the survivors to suit the “crossfire theory” of the AFP. When survivor Gibe was approached by the military, he was asked where his armed companions were. The DOJ-NBI panel said that this was clear proof that the military were pursuing the NPA. What an idiotic conclusion! Gibe was asked by the military where his “armed companions” were because the military thought Gibe WAS an NPA. The military did not recognize him as an EDC employee at the onset. He was even asked why he was there with a map and a GPS device. Gibe and his companions WERE the targets all along.  The trees were they hid had several bullet marks coming from the trajectory of the higher ground.
  9. The DOJ-NBI report reads like an AFP field report, with gratuitous use of the words “communist-terrorists” to describe the armed group allegedly encountered by the AFP. The DOJ-NBI report actually offered no proof that the alleged armed group allegedly encountered by the AFP were indeed members of the NPA to begin with. The findings of “NPA presence” was based solely on the reports submitted by the AFP and there was no independent confirmation of this by the DOJ-NBI.
  10. The DOJ-NBI report shows the sloppy investigative work conducted by our government agencies. No wonder many cases of killings go unsolved. No wonder justice remains elusive for many. With these kind of agencies doing the investigation, it’s like the victims are being shot twice over. The first casualties were Leonard and company. The next casualty was the truth.
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