Malacañang on Tuesday expressed outrage over the killing of eight policemen by a rebel landmine in Cagayan on Monday, saying this was a violation of international humanitarian law and treaty, and the convention banning the use of the explosive devices.
“It’s very clear. It was a violation or against the law on the use of landmines,” President Aquino’s deputy spokesperson, Abigail Valte, said during a press briefing.
The policemen—all belonging to the Special Action Force—were killed when a mine planted by the communist New People’s Army (NPA) blew up in Allacapan town in Cagayan.
They were in “athletic uniform,” not in combat fatigues, as they were on their way for a medical checkup, Valte said. “We couldn’t make sense of their (rebels’) reason for justifying (the attack),” she said.
Luis Jalandoni, chief peace negotiator of the communist-led National Democratic Front (NDF), has claimed that the use of “command-detonated landmines” as opposed to “contact-detonated” ones, by the NPA was not a violation of the Ottawa Treaty.
The Ottawa Protocol is formally known as the “Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction.”
The Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (Opapp) condemned the NPA’s use of landmines as “a gross violation of Republic Act No. 9851, or the Philippine Act on Crimes against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity, as well as the Ottawa Protocol.”
“By its insistence on using landmines and its insistence on continuing a regime of violence instead of talking peace, the NPA turns a blind eye to the clamor of our people for a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict,” the Opapp said in a strongly worded statement.
Sen. Francis Escudero said the government should return to the negotiating table with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA, its armed wing, as a means to avoid bloody clashes with the rebels.
Escudero, who chairs the Senate committee on justice and human rights, said the breakthrough in the peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) should also be duplicated with the NDF.
“Will the doors and windows be open to avoid skirmishes like this? The government has been truly successful in its negotiations with the MILF. I hope we can also see the same happen with the NPA,” he told reporters.
In a statement, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas condemned the attack, saying such “kind of savagery has no place in our society.”
“This makes the attack all the more shocking and senseless since it was premeditated and carried out without provocation,” he said.—Reports from Michael Lim Ubac, Norman Bordadora and Marlon Ramos