CPP, NPA own up to Masbate mine blast; express ‘deep remorse’ for death of civilians
MANILA, Philippines — The Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) have taken “full responsibility for the tragedy” in Masbate and declared “deep remorse” for the “untimely and unnecessary” deaths of two noncombatants.
Far Eastern University football player Kieth Absalon, his cousin Nolven Absalon, and a 16-year-old nephew were biking in Barangay Anas last Sunday morning when a landmine exploded, killing the two men and injuring the boy.
“The entire [CPP] and [NPA] express their deep remorse over the untimely and unnecessary deaths of cousins Keith and Nolven Absalon and injury to others resulting from errors in the military action mounted by an NPA unit in Barangay Anas, Masbate City last Sunday,” CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said in a statement Tuesday.
“The entire CPP and NPA take full responsibility for the tragedy. There is no justification for the aggravation this has caused the Absalon family,” he added.
Valbuena also said they hope the Absalon family can accept their apologies and “any appropriate form of indemnification” they intend to give them.
“We fervently hope that the Absalon family, their relatives and friends, and the entire Filipino people can accept our profoundest apologies, self-criticism, and willingness to extend any appropriate form of indemnification,” he noted.
The CPP earlier said it would investigate the explosion and vowed to impose corrective measures if proven that NPA, its armed wing, was responsible for the death of the victims.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said Monday that he has directed the local police to coordinate with military units on the ground to pursue the rebels involved.
This latest civilian death tied to the conflict between the government and communist rebels prompted the
The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), for its part, issued a reminder to both the government forces and NPA rebels to strictly obey the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) amid the unwarranted death of noncombatants in Masbate City.
It noted that under the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction — which is part of the IHL — anti-personnel landmines have been banned to limit military powers’ weapon options and to ensure that civilian harm is limited.
CHR is also doing an independent investigation on the incident.
Valbuena said the incident “should not have happened” because the NPA “is always reminded to give the highest priority to the protection of civilian lives and property.”
“In waging a people’s war, the New People’s Army is always reminded to give the highest priority to the protection of civilian lives and property. In this regard, the Masbate incident should not have happened,” he claimed.
“We are aware that an investigation is already being carried out by the Party’s Bicol Regional Committee and Masbate Provincial Committee of the Party and the higher commands of the NPA to identify the errors and weaknesses that led to this tragedy,” he added.
Meanwhile, some House lawmakers belonging to the Makabayan bloc noted that the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), a body assigned to check supposed rights abuses of both government forces and communist rebels, should likewise do an independent investigation of the incident.
On Monday night, Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said the JMC should check whether there is a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
“If revolutionary forces are indeed behind the deployment of the alleged IED, then bringing a case before the JMC would be the best way to make them accountable,” Gaite explained.
“Both government and rebel forces are bound by this agreement on human rights and this mechanism under CARHRIHL is designed exactly to address such incidents,” he added.
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