The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) challenged the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) to cite International Humanitarian Law (IHL) principles the New People’s Army (NPA) allegedly violated in its ambush of government soldiers in Jipapad, Eastern Samar last July 7.
In a statement Tuesday, CPP public information officer Marco Valbuena demanded that CHR deputy spokesperson Marc Louis Siapno specify which IHL provision the NPA failed to observe in the military action that killed three government troopers and wounded six others.
Valbuena also strongly reacted to Siapno’s allegation that the NPA indiscriminately used improvised explosive devices (IED) during the incident.
“By condemning wholesale the use of landmines, the CHR mouthpiece is not helping educate the public with regard the Ottawa Treaty. He should understand that the treaty specifically bans the use of landmines that are ‘designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person’ and does not prohibit the use of command-detonated landmines,” Valbuena said.
Valbuena added: “Is the CHR spokesperson aware that the armed forces of Canada (where Ottawa is located) itself possesses and uses command-detonated landmines (similar to that of the NPA) which it says are not covered by the landmine treaty?”
In a statement Friday, Siapno alleged the NPA indiscriminately used IEDs, including landmines, that “fail in distinguishing between civilians and combatants and protect especially civilians and communities from the ill effects of armed conflict, which violates the spirit of IHL.”
Siapno also urged the government “to pursue the perpetrators…in keeping with the rule of law,” adding the five-decade CPP-led revolution is “senseless violence.”
Valbuena however said he is not surprised with CHR’s bias.
“In the first place, the CHR is an agency of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). At every opportunity, it denounces the NPA and echoes the lies of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines),” he said.
Valbuena cited the article “CHR, gov’t close ranks vs. NPA” published Monday by the Philippine News Agency he described as a “trash news website.”
The article quoted Philippine Army 8th Infantry Division commander Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso saying the government troopers were unarmed when ambushed.
“The spot report of the AFP itself said that the ‘firefight lasted for about 20 minutes,” although the NPA report said the battle lasted only for 5 minutes,” Valbuena countered.
He added the NPA seized a Gloc-made pistol as well as a .45 caliber and a .9mm pistol of unknown makes from the soldiers. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)