Opposition Senator Francis ‘Chiz’ Escudero on Monday condemned, “in no uncertain terms,” the brutal killing of the daughter of a communist guerrilla leader in southern Mindanao and called on authorities to act swiftly in arresting the killers.
Escudero, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, said the slaying of Rebelyn Pitao, daughter of Leoncio Pitao alias Kumander Parago, puts into focus the raging war in the countryside.
“The authorities must act swiftly to get her killers. This heinous crime is not the way to win the peace,” he said in a statement from Australia. The senator is on a four-day personal trip to Australia under its Special Visits Program.
“If it is true that the military is behind this, then we have a serious problem. Is this how we implement the country’s anti-insurgency program by going after the family of the communist leaders if we can’t get them?” Escudero said.
He issued the statement before meeting with the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, Graeme Innes AM, and his associate Krista Lee-Jones. He is expected to take up concerns expressed by foreign governments and international human rights organizations about the human rights record of the Arroyo government.
According to news reports, Rebelyn, a 20-year old teacher, was forcibly taken by unidentified armed men on her way home from St. Peter’s College in Toril District in Davao. Her body was later found in a ditch in Carmen town, with evidence showing she was tortured, strangled, raped and stabbed.
Her father, commander of the New People’s Army’s Pulang Bagani Command, accused the military of having a hand in Rebelyn’s killing.
Escudero said what happened to Rebelyn compels everyone to do their share in ending this long-standing conflict among Filipinos.
“The bloodletting must stop. There can be no development without peace,” he added.