MURDER RAPS. The bodies of the children when the New People's Army ambushed patrolling soldiers in Roxas village, Catubig, Northern Samar on Feb. 8, 2022. Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s Center for Law of Armed Conflict chief Brig. Gen. Joel Nacnac on Tuesday (Feb. 15) said members of the Communists Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front hierarchy, including Jose Maria Sison, will face murder raps as well as violations of International Human Rights Laws (IHL) for the killing of the two kids and the wounding of two other civilians. (Photo courtesy of Philippine Army)

MANILA – Murder raps and violations of International Human Rights Laws (IHL) await Jose Maria Sison anew and other Communists Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) leaders in light of the killing of two minors and the wounding of two other civilians by NPA fighters in Northern Samar on February 8.

At the weekly virtual forum of the National Task Force to End Local Communists Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) on Monday, Brig. Gen. Joel Nacnac, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’s Center for Law of Armed Conflict, said Sison and top officials of the Communist Terrorist Groups (CTGs) are liable as principals under the IHL principle of command responsibility being members of the CPP-NPA-NDF hierarchy.

The CTG leaders are also liable under the Republic Act (RA) 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, aside from the murder charges for the death of two minors, a 12-year-old boy who died on the spot and another 13-year-old boy while being treated at the hospital.

Nacnac added that frustrated murder and attempted murder could also be slapped against the CTG hierarchy over the victims who survived the NPA attacks.

Col. Perfecto Peñaredondo, 803rd Brigade Commander, said the incident happened when Army troopers were sent to the outskirt of Barangay Roxas in Catubig, Northern Samar on the afternoon of Feb. 8, 2022, to check on reported extortion activities of CTGs in the area.

While on their way, the soldiers chanced upon a group of young boys about to gather some copra products and told them to stay behind the army formation. But while walking just several meters towards their destination, the troops were ambushed by the NPA members, Peñaredondo said.

An exchange of gunfire ensued and the group of young boys scampered to their safety, but they were eventually targeted and shot at by the CTGs who wanted to create a diversion to escape the encounter, he pointed out.

Peñaredondo added that despite the visible presence of civilians, the communist NPA terrorists indiscriminately fired their weapons resulting in the death of Andre Mercado, 12; and Leandro Alivio, 13.

Nacnac said the NPA terrorists clearly violated RA 9851 and the IHL principles in attacking that caused incidental loss of civilians.

“It is not only violations of our common laws on murder and homicide but the IHL and human rights laws,” Nacnac said.

He added that the leaders of the CPP-NPA-NDF will be “equally accountable” for the deaths of the civilians during the incidents.

Dastardly attack

Vanessa Marie Yaoyao, president of Kabataan Kontro Droga at Terorismo (KKDAT) in Caraga, condemned the NPA terrorists for their “dastardly act” and seek indemnification for the victims.

Yaoyao likened the incident to the NPA terrorists’ murder of Severino Alvarez, the father of their colleague John Harold who was left with 13 siblings to take care of, as their mother died earlier because of an illness.

“Di lang nila inulila, sinira pa nila ang future (They did not only orphan, they also ruined the future) ” Yaoyao said, referring to the children of Alvarez.

Her companion, Hanna Myka Atienza, spokesperson for KKDAT, said their “hearts are grieving” again despite the celebrations of ‘hearts day’, as young lives were again taken away by CTGs in Northern Samar.

“Very heartless (are the CTGs). These children could be engineers, teachers, or policemen (someday),” she said.

Meanwhile, Undersecretary Lorraine Marie T. Badoy NTF-ELCAC spokesperson for Social Media Affairs and Sectoral Concerns, said the fight against CTGs should be carried out by all peace-loving Filipinos who should not vote for KABAG or the Makabayan Bloc Party-list group who are “the protector (of CTGs) in Congress.”

“Magsanib pwersa tayong lahat para matapos ito (Let us all join forces to end these CTGs atrocities),” Badoy said.

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.

The Anti-Terrorism Council also formally designated the NDF as a terrorist organization on June 23, 2021, citing it as “an integral and inseparable part” of the CPP-NPA that was created in April 1973. (PR)