MANILA – A ranking military official in the Bicol Region said the recent anti-personnel mine (APM) blast that killed two civilians and wounded another in Masbate is a manifestation of communist terrorist groups’ (CTGs) weakening capability as they can no longer face the security forces head-on.
Army Major Gen. Henry A. Robinson, Joint Task Force (JTF) Bicolandia commander, in a statement Sunday, strongly condemned the terrorist attack as he extended his condolences to the bereaved family of Kieth Absalon, 21, a promising football player of the Far Eastern University, and his cousin Nolven Absalon, 40. Kieth’s 16-year-ol nephew, Chrisbin Absalon sustained injuries.
New People’s rebels detonated an APM while the victims and a group of bikers pedaled their way in Purok 4, Barangay Anas, Masbate City at around 10 a.m. of June 6.
On May 1, two civilians were killed and five others were injured in an APM explosion detonated by NPA rebels in Uson, Masbate. On May 23, a government employee was also injured after an NPA-planted APM exploded in Milagros, Masbate.
He said that around the same time on Sunday, another explosion in Barangay Homapon, Legazpi City injuring four motorists including a lawyer.
"The incidents in Masbate and Legazpi were violations of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) as the terrorists targeted innocent civilians. These crimes are proofs that the CTG is anti-people, anti-development, and selfish,” Robinson said.
This, he said, is the reason why Bicolanos loathe communist insurgency because they know that as long as it exists, communist terrorists, who are controlled by their leaders, will continue to spread violence and terror.
“Sinasabi nilang pinuprotektahan nila ang masa at binabatikos nila ang gobyerno dahil sa mga pagkukulang nito pero ang totoo, ang kanilang grupo ang nagpapahirap sa mamamayan dahil pansariling interes lamang ang kanilang iniisip (They claim to be protectors of the masses and criticizes the government for its inadequacies but the truth is, their groups' self-serving interest is the cause of people’s suffering), he added.
Robinson assured that JTF Bicolandia will work hand in hand with their counterpart in the Philippine National Police to arrest the perpetrators of the heinous crimes.
JTF Bicolandia, he added, also believes that the recent incidents were carried out to divert government troops’ focus on the ongoing combat operations in Sorsogon where CTG hideouts were overran, materials and supplies were seized.
He added that in the 3rd District of Masbate, massive surrenderers were recorded while firearms, voluminous CTG materials, and documents were seized, disrupting the terrorist group’s ill plans and unlawful activities.
Lt. Col. Siegfried Felipe Awichen, Battalion Commander of Army’s 2nd Infantry Battalion (2IB), said he immediately directed his troops to hunt down the perpetrators while tightening the security measures in the Masbate.
Col. Aldwine Almase, Brigade Commander of 903rd Infantry Brigade, lambasted the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) – NPA for their cowardly acts.
The Communist Party of the Philippines-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, United Kingdom, European Union, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.
“These were conducted to intimidate the populace, the local government officials, and other sectors of the society who are now aware and denouncing the unacceptable ways and objectives of the terrorist NPAs and their cohorts, Almase said.
CTGs, he said, are attempting to regain the influence they enjoyed and the support they get from the masses who have been deceived prior to the JTF Bicolandia and Regional Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict’s (RTF-ELCAC) sustained and successful campaigns in the region.
“Their desperation will continue as the army will continue to hunt down the perpetrators and even intensify security operations against these terrorists,” he said.
Meanwhile. Kabataan Kontra Droga at Terosismo (KKDAT) shares the sorrow of the loss of one of Keith Absalon, a bright football player who plays for the Malaya Football Club and the Far Eastern University Men's Football Team.
“Keith Absalon is an example of a nationalistic youth who inspired many other Filipino youths by showing devotion and passion of a true Filipino athlete in the International Sports Arena,” KKDAT national spokesperson Franz Arabia said. “It is indeed heartbreaking that these rebels are again the main reason why someone's promising future ended in just a blink of an eye.”
He said the incident just shows us that even innocent civilians are all subject to CTGs’ defensive operations against the government.
“This incident should be an eye-opener to the masses to give our support and trust to those who are mandated by the law to serve and protect us by coordinating immediately all suspicious activities done by unknown individuals to avoid the increasing number of deaths caused by these insurgencies," Arabia added.
Hold CPP-NPA-NDF accountable
Ka Eric, national coordinator of Sentrong Alyansa ng nga Mamamayan Para Sa Bayan (SAMBAYANAN), urged Filipinos for a collective call for justice against the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF) and their front organizations serving as conduits and conspirators for these dastardly acts of terrorism.
Ka Eric said SAMBAYANAN, a group established by former CPP-NPA-NDF cadres and operatives who have bonded together as an advocacy support group to the government's peace and development programs, joins the Filipino people for an urgent call to demand justice in order to hold the CPP-NPA-NDF leaders, operatives, collaborators and conspirators, criminally accountable under the crimes committed in violation to International Humanitarian Law (IHL), for crimes against humanity, as local communist terrorist group killed another two civilians Masbate.
CTGs, he said, have been executing roadside APM attacks in the last couple of months in the Bicol region.
The use of APM is a violation of the IHL and the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention adopted by the international community, prohibiting the acquisition, production, stockpiling, and use of weapons. (PNA)