The relatives of the slain New People’s Army (NPA) rebels have arrived in the city and are appealing to local authorities to allow them to retrieve the bodies for transfer to their respective provinces.
In a press statement, Karapatan Southern Tagalog invoked the “International Humanitarian Law and the 1949 Geneva Conventions” to allow them to take home the bodies.
The relatives, accompanied by the Karapatan members and paralegals, have been asked by city health authorities to remain at a hotel in Barangay San Miguel to await a decision on their appeal.
Current city protocols require travelers from Manila to undergo a 14-day quarantine, except for allowed persons travelling with prior coordination with local authorities.
In its statement, Karapatan said they have experienced in previous similar instances local authorities making it difficult for relatives.
“We have been in dire situations while transacting with government forces and it is highly probable with will be in one again,” Karapatan said.
The group claimed that the autopsy of the bodies were done without the consent of the families.
“We call on human rights advocates and concerned citizens to support the bereaved families. They are hoping to retrieve the bodies as soon as possible to allow the families to grieve properly,” said Karapatan spokesperson Kyle Salgado in the statement.
The local government of Puerto Princesa and Palawan, following its strict health protocol for arriving individuals outside of Palawan, subjected the team to COVID-19 rapid test and arranged for the group’s accommodation.
The group continued to await further instructions, expecting “potential delays”, as they were earlier “promised” to gather the remains in Heaven’s Gate Funeral Parlor, after its transport from the southern town Brooke’s Point.