Army files case vs NPA for violating int’l law
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY –– The Philippine Army’s 403rd Infantry Brigade has filed a court case against four alleged members of the New People’s Army (NPA), which it claimed violated the international humanitarian law (IHL) during an attack on Manolo Fortich town in Bukidnon on May 28.
Rommel Alonto, the provincial prosecutor, said a case had been filed before the Regional Trial Court Branch 25 against a certain Omben alias Ronron and alias Jhon; Lino Namatidong alias Dahun; Mylen Colita alias Maymay; and Toto Taquin alias Jepoy.
The respondents were alleged members of the subregional committees of the NPA’s Guerrilla Front 89 and the NPA’s north-central command, who were allegedly involved in the attack.
In a resolution prepared by the Bukidnon provincial prosecutor, Ramiro Melgo, a member of the barangay tanod in Santo Niño, said he was handcuffed and maltreated by NPA fighters during the May 28 attack.
“He (Melgo) was not armed and not part of the conflict. But he was subjected to cruel and inhumane treatment,” Alonto said.
Brig. Gen. Edgardo de Leon, 403rd Infantry Battalion commander, claimed that by launching the attack in Sitio Aurora, Barangay Santo Niño on May 28, the rebels committed IHL violations, which stated that civilians should be spared in the armed conflict between state forces and the rebels.
De Leon said the rebels fired on village watchmen, captured one of them and “maltreated” the captive as the guerrillas burned vehicles, he said.
The rebels had earlier owned the attack in a statement by Pia Paraiso, an NPA spokesperson.
Witnesses had identified the perpetrators when shown photos of the suspects, De Leon said.
He said the act was a violation of the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity.
“The NPA, as a party to the armed conflict, must comply with the IHL, foremost of which is the protection of civilian lives and properties. They (NPA) must not violate the IHL. Everything they do must comply with the IHL,” he told reporters during a press conference after submitting the prosecutor’s resolution to the court.
He said the filing of the case was just the first of a series, as the military was compiling reports on the NPA’s other alleged IHL violations, including the destruction of private properties, farm equipment, and vehicles in Bukidnon and other areas.
“We have documented those incidents, we have witnesses. We showed photos to victims and they identified the assailants. They owned up to these atrocities, these attacks on non-military targets. They must answer to these accusations,” de Leon said.
The 403rd Brigade operates in Bukidnon, Cagayan de Oro, and Misamis Oriental.
As the case was filed on Wednesday, a group of placard-holding men and women, some of them wearing face masks, stood outside the Hall of Justice in Upper Carmen, to condemn the NPA.
Edited by LZB
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