MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday said members of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), must be punished for planting anti-personnel mines (APMs) in Masbate.
In a virtual press conference, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said NPA rebels are “guilty” of committing an “international crime” due to the use of landmines.
“Iyan po ay isang international crime at importanteng mahuli, malitis, maparasuahan ang mga tao ng NPA na patuloy pong gumagamit ng landmine (That is an international crime and it is important to apprehend, investigate, and punish NPA members who continue to use landmines),” Roque said.
Citing the Ottawa treaty or the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine (APM) Ban Convention, Roque said the use of landmines is prohibited.
“That is a crime against humanity. It is a war crime. Pinagbabawal po iyan ng Ottawa Convention dahil ang landmine po eh nilalabag ‘yung prinsipyo ng distinction sa international humanitarian law (That is prohibited under Ottawa convention because landmine violated the principle of distinction under the international humanitarian law),” he said.
The Philippines is one of the signatory states to the APM Ban Convention which prohibits the production, stockpiling, transfer, and use of APMs to ensure the implementation of humanitarian rules restricting armed violence.
Roque said NPA members behind the June 6 APM blast in Masbate City should be held accountable.
“Uulitin ko po (I repeat), that is an international crime, a crime against the international community. That is the worst crime that anyone can commit and the NPA is guilty of it,” he said.
Two people, including a young football player of the Far Eastern University (FEU), were killed, while a minor was wounded in an APM blast believed to have been planted by NPA guerillas in Anas village in Masbate City.
Killed in the incident were FEU varsity player Kieth Absalon, 21, and his cousin, Nolven Absalon, 40. Nolven’s son, 16-year-old Chrisbin Daniel, sustained injuries.
The victims were riding on a bicycle when a suspected APM detonated in Purok 4 in Anas village in Masbate City.
Aside from this unprovoked attack against the Absalons, Lt. General Antonio Parlade, Jr., Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command chief, said communist terrorists also torched a Globe Telecoms cell tower on the same day and rigged a landmine in a nearby light post at around 3 a.m. in Barangay Humapon, Legazpi City, Albay to maim and kill responding government security troops.
"The landmine exploded, wounding instead (passing) four civilians aboard a passing tricycle," Parlade said in a statement on Sunday.
Such atrocities, he said, are not new for the CPP-NPA as they committed a similar “anti-personnel landmine” incident in Barangay Calumpang, Cawayan, Masbate on June 1.
"Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident. In Barangay Aliang, Ligao City, Albay, a similar ‘landmining’ attack by the NPAs wounded two civilians last April 3," he added.
Over 160 states, including the Philippines, are party to the 1997 APM Mine Ban Convention that took effect in 1999.
APM is prohibited under international humanitarian law.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terror organization by the Philippines, the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand. (PNA)