Members of civil society in Negros Occidental yesterday decried the latest attack on civilians by the communist rebels waging their “protracted people's war ”.
A New People's Army unit command detonated a landmine just as a convoy of emergency responders was passing enroute to a remote sitio to aid and evacuate wounded soldiers in at Bansalan, Davao del on March 2.
The blast ripped through the vehicle of the Davao del Sur Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and injured five PDRRMC members, the Negros civil society group said in a press release.
Four days later, the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command claimed responsibility for the incident and “ apologized to civilians hurt...and assured them that those responsible will be disciplined ”, the press release added.
The apology/expression of regret does not account for the fact that the attack on the convoy prevented timely medical attention for the wounded soldiers, it added.
International humanitarian laws and Republic Act 9851, or the Philippine Act on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and other Crimes Against Humanity, are explicit in stating that, “ wounded or sick combatants are to be collected and cared for by either side in a conflict, ” the press release said.
“Past experiences caution us that public pronouncements by the CPP-NPA do not amount to much. Their apologies have not deterred their units from repeating – again and again – their inhumane attacks against civilians and other IHL-protected persons. Nor have the results of their touted internal investigations of, as well as the punishments imposed on the perpetrators ever been made publicly known., “ the press release said.
Echoing the cries of the victims of this latest act of violence, trhe civil society group said it is challenging the CPP-NPA leadership: to bring to justice the perpetrators of the Bansalan landmine incident, as required by the International Humanitarian Law and RA 9851; pay full damages to the civilian victims, and for their vehicles and equipment; and stop their use of landmines/IEDs, command-detonated or otherwise, in the internal armed conflict.
“We exhort our brethren across the ideological divide - the CPP-NPA-NDF, to obtain their political and social goals through ways principled but non-violent. Let us put an end to this fratricidal war among Filipinos and instead work together to abolish poverty through social development,” the civil society group called.*