The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Negros Oriental said it has concluded in its probe that the New People’s Army (NPA) violated human rights laws and an agreement with the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) with regard weapons used in warfare.
The NPA, the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), is part of the NDF coalition in the long-running rebellion against the Philippine government.
Dr. Jess Cañete, CHR-Negros Oriental chief and Special Investigator, on Monday said that a motu proprio investigation that his office conducted from March 5 to 6 showed that suspected NPA rebels, indeed used IEDs during an ambush on Philippine Army soldiers in Guihulngan City last March 3.
In that incident, a KM 450 truck carrying troops of the 94th Infantry Battalion was traversing the national highway along the vicinity of Barangay Luz in Guihulngan City around 10:40 a.m. when an explosion occurred, he said.
Four soldiers, including their platoon leader, 2Lt. Niel Christian Cureg, were wounded by what later appeared to be a detonated IED. They were rushed to a hospital and are now in stable condition.
Cañete said based on reports from the Army, a firefight ensued after the blast and after about 10 minutes, the suspected NPA rebels withdrew towards Barangay Banogbanog in Isabela town of Negros Occidental.
The military truck bore bullet holes, apparently fired from high-powered firearms, he said.
Government troops recovered three IEDs, including the one that detonated, in the ambush/clash area, a report from the Philippine Army had said earlier.
Cañete expressed concern over the use of IEDs. “These IEDs were found along the national highway near Isabela town, it happened during night time, and there could be civilians traversing that road,” he said.
“That could pose a threat to them (civilians) and these are improvised explosive devices that contain metal objects like nails and shrapnel that could cause injury or even death to humans when detonated,” he said.
Cañete said that the use of the IEDs is a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
It is also a violation of Republic Act (RA) 9851, An Act Defining and Penalizing Crimes Against Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity, especially on the use of weapons prohibited in warfare such as landmines.
Cañete cited Chapter III, Sec. 4 of RA 9851, which states: “weapons, projectiles and materials and methods of warfare which are of the nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering or which are inherently indiscriminate in violation of the international law of armed conflict”; and the “launching (of) an attack in the knowledge that such attack will cause incidental loss of life of injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects or widespread, long-term and severe damage to the natural environment which would be excessive in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated”.
He said his office needs to contact the NPA, hoping the latter would also issue its own statement regarding the Army reports that the insurgents had used IEDs against the government troops.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (Mary Judaline Partlow, PNA)