ILOILO CITY—Communist guerrillas have offered indemnity and assistance to civilian casualties during their ambush on a truck last month in La Castellana town in Negros Occidental, which left nine people dead.
While acknowledging mistakes in the deaths of civilians, they blamed the government for endangering the lives of noncombatants.
Killed were Police Officer 1 Richard Canja; civilians Virginia Ordoñez, Ricky Dingcong and Lito Lucban; barangay watchmen Mario Ricablanca and Teotimo Esplegera; and Ulysses Tamayor, Jonathan Mateo and Ramir Complesa, all members of the barangay peace-keeping action team (BPAT).
Wounded were Police Officer 3 Constantino Villagas and Police Officer 2 Jeffrey Alvarez, both assigned to the community police assistance center in Barangay Cabacungan in La Castellana; Jason Oximar, Victoriano Donasco, Jamil Roma, Bonifacio Bayate, Cristituto Perolino, Jerry Lacuedo and Roger Behar; and three others.
The victims were headed home after attending a fiesta in Barangay Puso in La Castellena when they were waylaid. The policemen, village watchmen and BPAT volunteers had provided security to the event.
In separate statements, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the CPP-led National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) affirmed the offer of its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), in Negros Occidental for indemnification and assistance to the civilian victims.
The CPP said in an e-mail dated Feb. 9 that those aggrieved “can seek redress under the rules of the NPA, the policies of the Democratic People’s Government and provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl).”
Signed in 1998 in The Hague, The Netherlands, Carhrihl is the first substantive agreement produced by the peace negotiations between the government and the NDFP. It binds both parties to respect human rights and adhere to international humanitarian law.
The CPP said it was an NPA policy “to give prime consideration to the welfare and safety of civilians.” The policy requires the NPA “to suspend or call off an ambush or some other armed action in the face of even the slightest possibility that a civilian might get hurt.”
In an earlier statement, the NPA said it had not planned an ambush but to confiscate the firearms of the policemen, BPAT members and village watchmen. It said the rebels fired back after they were shot at.
Luis Jalandoni, a member of the NDFP national executive committee, denied reports that the rebels finished off the wounded.