The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) rejected calls by Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) agencies to surrender New People’s Army (NPA) fighters suspected to be behind the deaths of two civilians in Masbate City last Sunday.
In a statement, the NDFP said it asserts its duty to investigate the incident under its Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) with the GRP.
“Under the CARHRIHL, in conformity with their respective separate duties and responsibilities, the NDFP has sole jurisdiction over complaints against units and personnel of the (NPA), in the same way that the GRP has the sole jurisdiction over complaints against its own armed units and personnel,” it said.
NDFP’s assertion came after police and military officers dared the NPA to turn those suspected to have perpetrated the killings over to the GRP.
The Commission on Human Rights made the same demand, saying the NPA “should identify all those responsible and surrender them to the lawful authorities to face justice within the court system.”
The NDFP however pointed out that the CARHRIHL established the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) as the principal mechanism to monitor the implementation of the CARHRIHL, under which the deaths of footballer Keith and his cousin Nolven in a bomb blast should be investigated.
At present, the NDFP-nominated section is open and functioning but the GRP-nominated section had been inactive even as both the GRP and the NDFP have agreed in 2016 to reconvene the JMC to start investigating the thousands of complaints of violations filed since opening in 2004.
“The NDFP welcomes the urgings of all concerned for the necessary investigation and wishes to have the full chance to do the investigation and make the report to the GRP-NDFP (JMC) if and when convened to deal with the case,” it said.
Their own legal system
The NDFP however said the investigation of the Masbate incident should be within the NPA command structure and frameworks of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), NDFP and the People’s Democratic Government (PDG) the Communists claim to have established in areas under their control.
“The NDFP will make sure that certain questions are answered by a thoroughgoing investigation,” it said.
The group said it will seek answer to questions, such as:
1) If true, which NPA unit and personnel are involved?
2) Is there no case of the enemy committing the crime and falsely ascribing it to the NPA?, and
3) Is there no local feud involved?
“There should be no rush to judgment, presumption or insinuation to the effect that the entire revolutionary movement and entire revolutionary forces are guilty of a criminal offense, negligence or error for which certain individuals may be liable on the basis of a full and complete investigation,” it said.
Under its responsibility and direction and within PDG’s legal system, the NDFP said the investigation must be started and completed within the NPA command structure.
“[This is] to fully and completely establish the facts and prepare any appropriate charges before any procedure to prosecute and try the case before the military court of the NPA or people’s court,” it explained. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)