THE National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) said its guerillas can still use command-detonated landmines as there is no valid ceasefire between the New People’s Army (NPA) and Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) soldiers and police forces.
In a statement following President Rodrigo Duterte’s latest threat of withdrawing from the peace talks yesterday, the NDFP said it is in fact necessary to resume the formal peace talks on August 20 in Oslo, Norway where the mode of ceasefire can be discussed.
Duterte said the NPA’s use of landmines against the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police must be discussed in the talks or he would order the GRP peace panel to withdraw from the negotiating table.
“I am saying now: Stop the landmines or you tell the leaders at itong gubyerno ko, get out from the talks. Alam mo bakit? I am now invoking the Geneva Conventions. It is part of the international law not only of the Philippines but around the world,” Duterte said.
The NDFP disagrees with Duterte, however, saying the NPA is not violating rules of war with its use of command-detonated landmines in its guerilla war against government soldiers.
“We wish to point out that the use of command-detonated land mines is not violative of the Geneva Convention and the Ottawa Treaty,” NDFP’s statement said.
NDFP peace panel legal adviser Edre Olalia said the Geneva Convention only prohibits targeting civilians and civilian populations and not military or police targets.
He added that the Ottawa Treaty of 1997 does not prohibit command-detonated anti-personnel mines, as well as both target-detonated and command-detonated anti-tank or anti-vehicle mines.
The Ottawa Treaty of 1997, or the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction, which took effect in 1999.
“The use of land mines and IEDs (improvised explosive devices) – particularly and most especially those that are command-detonated anti-personnel and anti-vehicle types or contact-detonated anti-vehicle types—are legitimate tools of warfare considering that they only target legitimate military objects of attack and precludes any inchoate, potential, impending, actual or even future harm or injury to the civilians and the civilian population,” Olalia said.
The NDFP urged Duterte to release its detained consultants and issued travel documents before August 20 to allow both its and GRP’s negotiating panels to discuss the mode of ceasefire and how best to arrange it.
“It would be better than not to resume formal peace talks,” NDFP said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)