MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines Center for Law of Armed Conflict (AFPCLOAC) has requested the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to conduct a lateral investigation on the Masbate incident that killed college football player Kieth Absalon and his cousin, Nolven.
Brig. Gen. Jose Alejandro Nacnac, Director of the AFPCLOAC, sent a request letter to CHR Chair Jose Luis Martin Gascon to probe the “abhorrent, despicable, and reprehensible” attack perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA) on June 6, 2021.
“As vanguards of HR and International Humanitarian Law, we ask that your office pursue justice for the Absalons and all victims of the most recent anti-personnel mine (APM) explosions and the protection of civilians against the use of APM by the NPA and CTGs (communist terrorist groups). We also solicit your assistance and support in the overall effort of the government to end local communist armed conflict,” stated the letter dated June 29.
Nacnac condemned the incident, saying the NPA rebels must be held liable for indiscriminate use of APM and attack on innocent civilians.
“The continued use by NPAs of anti-personnel mines and improvised explosive devices (IED) that kill and maim civilians and soldiers in wanton disregard and intentional violation of International Humanitarian Law is disturbing and should be stopped,” Nacnac said in a statement on Friday.
Nacnac noted the "civilian-combatant distinction is a cardinal principle" of international humanitarian law, "intended to minimize harm to civilians by keeping violence a matter for combatants".
Citing Section 14 of Republic Act (RA) No. 9851, or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity signed into law on Dec. 11, 2009, Nacnac said the communist leader orchestrating the violent attacks must also face criminal charges.
"In addition to other grounds of criminal responsibility for crimes defined and penalized under RA 9851, Section 10 thereof provides that NPA leaders like Joma Sison shall be criminally responsible as a principal for such crimes committed by subordinates under his/her effective command and control, or effective authority and control as the case may be, as a result of his/her failure to properly exercise control over such subordinates," Nacnac added.
"The liability of leaders of these CTGs for the harm and damage their subordinates had inflicted on non-combatants must not be left unpunished," he continued.
In May, the CHR vowed to investigate the 1,506 atrocities and IHL violations committed by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA and the National Democratic Front from 2010 to 2020.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (With reports from Priam Nepomuceno/PNA)