Twelve year old Angel Rivas and her 21-year old lesbian sister Lenie may have been raped and tortured by the soldiers who killed them last Tuesday, June 15, an indigenous people’s advocacy group said.
Way too many bullets were also fired on Angel’s face, making her unrecognizable despite stitches that now hold her shattered head together.
An aunt (name withheld for security reasons) also told Save Our Schools Network the Angel’s genitals were defiled.
“Gibastos gyud ang iyang lawas, gi-rape, gihilabtan, guba kaayo ang atubangan,” the relative said. (They defiled her body, she was raped, her genitals torn apart.)
The sisters,along with cousin Willy Rodriguez, were killed in the second massacre in Lianga, Surigao del Sur since September 1, 2015.
The 3rd Special Forces Battalion of the Philippine Army told the victims’ relatives they were pursuing New People’s Army guerrillas when a fire fight ensued that had the three killed as hapless bystanders.
The claim however contradicted statements made from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) general headquarters and by the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) that the three were NPA fighters who first fired at them that resulted in a 10-minute fire fight.
Both also alleged Angel was a NPA child warrior.
But the victims’ relatives said the young Lumad-Manobo farmers and three other kin simply took a break from harvesting abaca hemp at their farm and went to Lianga town proper to buy rice.
They came across the soldiers who, without warning, opened fire at them. The three were killed while the other three were able to run away.
The victim’s families were only made aware of the incident at around 10 o’clock Tuesday evening after soldiers presented to them the lifeless body of Angel, wrapped in plastic and packaging tape.
Lenie and Willy’s bodies were later found in a separate location.
When the Rivas family were able to uncover Angel’s body at a funeral home Wednesday morning, they were shocked at the gruesome state of body and her once pretty face that was already full of crude stitches.
From pictures sent to journalists by the SOS Network, Angel’s face now looks like a grotesque mask that is mangled and askew beyond recognition. Her right eye lid is also missing, revealing an empty socket were her eye used to be.
Her aunt told SOS that Angel and Lenie’s father was devastated.
Lenie’s body was also full of stitches while Willy’s had fractures in his limbs wrapped with packaging tape, suggesting that he might have been tortured or had bones broken after being shot.
The soldiers also reportedly tried to stop the families from taking photographs of the bodies.
SOS said a certain Colonel Aranas offered to pay all funeral expenses but was rejected by the relatives.
Angel was an honor student of the Tribal Filipino School in Surigao Sur (TRIFPSS) who transferred to the Department of Education Alternative Learning System during the pandemic. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)