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Military accused of covering its footprints of blood

HONG KONG (Mabuhay) : Gunfire rang out from the campus of Mindanao State University at 10.00pm on the night of 8 August 2012 and, in the Miraato household, Yusoph Miraato called to his wife, Elizabeth, and their children to take cover.

The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission reports that as the family was gathering together, six-year-old Gaily collapsed onto the floor, blood running from her mouth. With the help of neighbours she was rushed to hospital, but pronounced dead on arrival.

On August 12, Yusoph Miraato filed a complaint against a brigadier general, Daniel Lucero, who has since died, and a lieutenant colonel, Siegfred Espiña, who were in charge of the 65th Battalion Ninth Infantry Division at the time, which was involved in the clash at the university with what was described as lawless forces.

The military initially said that Gaily Miratto was most probably hit by a stray bullet from the clash at the university, but the Miraatos say that is not plausible, as their home is too far away for a bullet to stray that far.

However, the accused military men later filed a counter affidavit saying that there was a second attack at the battalion’s barracks close to the Miraato home and at the national high school, which backs onto their residence, and that Gaily must have been hit by a stray bullet from that encounter.

However the Miraatos maintain that that area was quiet, except for the one bust of gunfire when Gaily was shot. They have also collected affidavits from neighbours testifying to that.

Then on 1 September 2013, Elizabeth Miraato filed on the police blotter against an armed group believed to be under the command to the Armed Forces of The Philippines for visiting their home and asking her husband to sign an affidavit of desistance (saying he would not pursue the case).

She also maintains that on other occasions, members of the military have visited their home and she believes it is at the insistence of Espiña.

Yusoph Miraato says that he has been harassed at work as well. His boss is a friend of Espiña and he demoted him when he refused to sign the affidavit of resistance.

The family believes that the firing from the barracks or the high school came from wounded soldiers who were working off their frustration or taking revenge for injuries to or deaths of their companions.

Either way, he thinks that the military is simply covering its footprints of blood.