Robredo on Masbate blast: No ideology can justify use of ‘inhumane’ land mines
MANILA, Philippines — No ideology can be enough reason to justify the use of land mines, which do not distinguish between combatant and non-combatant and constitute a gross human rights violation, Vice President Leni Robredo stressed.
Robredo issued on Wednesday a strongly-worded condemnation of the Masbate explosion, which claimed the lives of Far Eastern University football standout Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven Absalon. According to reports, the two were cycling in Masbate City’s Barangay Anas when the incident occurred.
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) has since admitted that their armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), is fully responsible for the anti-personnel land mine explosion.
“Anuman ang sanhi ng pagsabog, walang anumang aksidente sa usapin ng mga landmine. May dahilan kung bakit matagal nang nabuo ang pandaigdigang consensus ukol sa mga ganitong uri ng karahasan,” Robredo said in the statement.
(Whatever is the explosion’s cause, there is no accident when talking about landmines. There is a reason why there is a long-standing, worldwide consensus against these kinds of brutal acts.)
“Bawal ito sa ilalim ng Ottawa Treaty, dahil walang lugar sa sibilisadong lipunan ang sandatang hindi namimili ng papaslangin. Hindi ito makatao. No goal or ideology can justify the use of such devices,” she added.
(It is prohibited under the Ottawa Treaty, because a weapon that cannot distinguish who it would murder has no place in a civilized society. No goal or ideology can justify the use of such devices.)
According to Robredo, the use of landmines — which the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said is an act against the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) — goes beyond just armed struggle and is well outside the realm of the communists’ resolve.
“Paglabag ito sa batas, sa karapatang pantao, sa mga patakaran ng pakikidigma, at sa mismong pag-unawa natin sa mga hangganan ng kayang gawin ng tao sa kanyang kapwa,” Robredo explained.
(This violates the law, human rights, the rules of engagement in a war, and our perceived limits of what people can do to others.)
“Hindi ito pakikibaka; labas ito sa usapin ng paghahangad nating matigil ang hidwaan. Landmines are murder. We condemn this incident without qualification,” she noted.
(This is no longer a part of armed struggle: this goes outside talks of our yearning to end the long dispute. Landmines are murder. We condemn this incident without qualification.)
In a statement on Tuesday, CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said that both CPP and NPA express “deep remorse over the untimely and unnecessary deaths” of the two. The communist party has vowed to provide the necessary indemnification for the family.
Previously, police reports claimed that the land mines were planted by NPA rebels. Shortly after, local officers said that they recovered other improvised explosive device in the area previously occupied by the rebels.
Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said on Monday that he has already directed local officers to coordinate with military units on the ground to pursue the rebels involved.
Robredo also offered condolences for the bereaved family.
“Nakikiramay kami sa mga pamilya nina Kieth at Neolven. Kasama kami sa dalangin, paghahanap ng katarungan, at mithiing hindi na maulit pa ang ganitong walang-katuturang pagpatay,” the Vice President said.
(We offer our condolences to the families of Kieth and Nolven. We share in the prayers, in the yearning for justice, and in the desire to avoid such senseless killings.)
Robredo was not the first to condemn the incident — several officials from law enforcement agencies and the security cluster have slammed the incident, lamenting that the NPA has resorted to such tactics that are not allowed under the IHL.
CHR also reminded both the government and the communist rebels to adhere with IHL, which banned anti-personnel landmines to limit the military powers’ weapon options, and to ensure that civilian harm is limited.
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