The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) joined the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in condemning the nonstop violation of International Humanitarian Laws (IHL) by the Communist Party of the Philippines- News People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), especially the use of Anti-Personnel Mines (APMs) in their recent attack in Jipapad, Eastern Samar that left 3 soldiers dead and 6 wounded.
“Malinaw po iyan mula noong naglabas etong two recent cases — sa case ng magpinsang Absalon, kasama ng kaso sa (It became clear when these two recent cases happened — the case of Absalon cousins, and the case in) Eastern Samar, we have continuously condemned the use of improvised explosive devices such as landmines, simply because it violates the spirit and principle of the International Humanitarian Law,” CHR deputy spokesperson Mark Siapno said during the regular virtual press briefing of the NTF-ELCAC on Monday.
Siapno said all the crimes committed by the NPA “are all accounted for,” assuring that the CHR will investigate and seek justice for the victims.
“We condemn all forms of violence, the use of APMs,” Siapno said.
He also reiterated the government’s call that the CPP-NPA-NDF be held accountable for all other crimes they have perpetrated against the Filipino people in violation of the IHL and Human Rights Laws from the moment they started this armed conflict 52 years ago.
Siapno said the latest ambush staged by the NPAs against the members of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) in Easter Samar shows the reckless belief of communist terrorist groups (CTGs) that they are allowed to do anything in the pursuit of their ideology and supposed rights.
“Kailangan masampahan ng kaso, dahil isa rin sa matinding panawagan ng CHR na di natin pwede gamitin ang anumang idelohiya para sabihin na okay lang o sapat lang lumabag sa karapatang pangtao (We need to file charges because the CHR also believes that we cannot use any ideology to say that it is okay to violate human rights) or we need to skirt away from responsibilities from the crimes committed,” he added.
As a representative of CHR, he also conveyed the Commission’s deepest sympathies to the victims. “Nakikidalamhati kami sa pamilya ng mga sundalo. Meron po talagang human rights violations na nangyari,” he said.
In civilian clothes, unarmed
Meanwhile, chieftain Eddie Nuncio, Barangay Chairman of Barangay 4, Papad, said he saw the victims passing by his house just before the attack and confirmed that they were wearing civilian clothes and were “unarmed.”
Several minutes later, Nuncio said he heard a big explosion followed by gunfire indicating that government troops were being ambushed and so he radioed for help for possible evacuation as he feared for the life of his family and their residents.
“Volume of fire for about 20 minutes followed. May inabutan pa kaming buhay na sundalo. May sundalong patay na naka sando, isang CAFGU at isa pa. May na-rescue kaming mga buhay, bale apat. Wala silang dalang baril na mahaba (We found soldiers who are still alive. There is one dead soldier in undershirt dress, a CAFGU and another one. We rescued four. They have no long arms),” Nuncio recounted.
He confirmed that the government troops were only carrying pieces of wood which were later covered with bloodstains when they rescued them. He said the soldiers went to the area to get “construction materials” to build their camp.
His statements were corroborated by video footage taken by Nuncio’s companions when they rushed to the ambush site.
Nuncio said the fatalities were close to him as they were distant relatives living in Barangay 1 and 4.
“Kaya masakit para sa akin (That’s why it is very painful to me),” he said.
Maj. Gen. Pio Diñoso, commander of the Army’s 8th Infantry Division, said the rebels used an APM to kill his soldiers based on Nuncio’s narration that he heard a loud explosion.
“They (government troops) are there as non-combatants and had no capacity to fight. They are unarmed. This is a blatant violation of International Humanitarian Laws. Di dapat ginanun (They should have not done that),” Diñoso said.
The CPP-NPA-NDF is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines.