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Rights group calls for independent probe of killing of communist leader

A HUMAN RIGHTS group on Wednesday called for an “independent and impartial” investigation into the killing of a leader of the New People’s Army (NPA), the armed branch of the communist movement.

Karapatan said a probe is needed to determine the actual circumstances of the deaths of NPA leader Jorge “Ka Oris” Madlos and his medical aide, Eighfel Dela Pena, in Bukidnon last week.

The group said the killings could possibly violate the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the political arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), and the national government.

“Military officials who commit, abet, and order war crimes and violations of the CARHRIHL should be held accountable as war criminals and serious allegations should not go unnoticed, especially when there appears to be attempts to cover up such violations,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina E. Palabay.

Reports from the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division said that Mr. Madlos, who has several pending criminal cases, and Mr. Dela Pena were killed during an armed encounter.

CPP Chief Information Officer Marco Valbuena, on the other hand, said the two were unarmed on Oct. 29 while seeking medical treatment and were “murdered in cold blood.”

Meanwhile, the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) said schools have the “academic freedom” to remove materials they deem “subversive.”

CHED Chairperson Prospero E. de Vera III, in a statement on Tuesday evening, said the turnover of NDFP-related materials by three state-owned universities to the government were done with “sufficient administrative discretions under existing laws.”

The turnover was made by Kalinga State University, Isabela State University, and Aklan State University.

Mr. De Vera’s remarks came after officials of the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman, the biggest state-funded academic institution, condemned the removal of materials as a “clear example of censorship.”

“It abandons the freedom to think, ask questions, and research; and on the freedom to discover the truth based on the students’ own abilities,” the UP officials said in Filipino.

Mr. De Vera said UP Diliman should “respect these decisions… in the spirit of mutual respect and proper governance of their institutions.”

“It would be best for the chancellor of UP Diliman and their officials to be more prudent, circumspect, respectful, and discerning in issuing statements especially involving the exercise of academic freedom of other higher education institutions,” he said.

The Makabayan bloc filed a resolution at the House of Representatives on Oct. 13 seeking for a probe into the matter. — Russell Louis C. Ku

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