Eleazar tells NPA: If you’re sincere, surrender those responsible for Masbate blast
MANILA, Philippines — The New People’s Army (NPA) should turn over fighters responsible for the anti-personnel land mine explosion in Masbate City, Masbate if they are sincere in their apology, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar said.
Eleazar issued out the challenge on Wednesday, a day after the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) admitted that local NPA rebels are responsible for the explosion that killed Far Eastern University football standout Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven Absalon.
The police chief noted that the bereaved family is asking for justice, not a mere apology from the communist organizations.
“Hustisya ang hinihiling ng pamilya ng mga biktima at hindi lang public apology. Kung talagang seryoso ang CPP-NPA sa kanilang panlulumo, isuko nila sa amin ang mga nagplano’t gumawa ng pag-atake na ito,” Eleazar said in a statement.
(The victims’ families are seeking justice, and not just a mere public apology. If the CPP-NPA is really sincere with their remorse, they should turn over those who planned and executed this attack.)
“These senseless attacks must end. Sa mga NPA, wakasan ninyo na ang paghahasik ng karahasan na pawang mga inosenteng sibilyan lang ang higit na apektado. Sobrang daming inosenteng buhay na ang nasayang at nawala dahil sa inyong walang saysay na armadong pakikipaglaban,” he added.
(These senseless attacks must end. For the NPA, end these spates of terrorism that gravely affect innocent civilians. A lot of innocent lives have perished and were lost just because of your senseless armed struggle.)
Reports from Masbate police said that the two victims went cycling in Barangay Anas when the incident happened. Nolven’s 16-year-old son, who was with them, sustained several injuries.
Local police initially blamed the NPA for the land mine explosion, while CPP said last Monday that they would investigate the incident. A day after, CPP information officer Marco Valbuena said that they are taking full responsibility for the incident, assuring the Absalons that corrective measures would be made while providing indemnification for the family.
But Eleazar noted that there should be an action against the perpetrators — likening the situation to PNP’s act of apologizing for an erring police officer’s wrongdoings, coupled with legal moves to prosecute the cop.
“Kagaya ng ginagawa natin sa PNP, ang ating paghingi ng paumanhin sa pagkakasala ng sinumang kasamahan namin sa taumbayan ay may kasamang aksyon upang sila ay maparusahan nang naayon sa ating mga batas,” Eleazar explained.
(Like what we do in the PNP, while we are asking the public’s forgiveness for the wrongdoings of any erring officer, it is accompanied by an adequate action to ensure that they are held accountable under our laws.)
Despite their apology, NPA’s actions were widely condemned, with the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and several public officials, including Vice President Leni Robredo, noting that the International Humanitarian Law prohibits the use of land mines.
Both CHR and Robredo underlined that land mines should not be used as they cannot distinguish who is a combatant and who is not.
The Vice President also said that no ideology could be enough reason to justify the use of land mines.
As of now, local police are still doing manhunt operations against the NPA rebels, as directed by Eleazar.
The PNP chief claimed that NPA’s use of land mines is a way to show off their force — but the truth, he said, is that such booby traps are set up to cover for their dwindling military strength.
“This is a way of the CPP-NPA of showing they are still a force to reckon with but it just shows that their numbers are steadily decreasing and that they are losing strength,” Eleazar said.
NPA has been waging a guerrilla war for over five decades now, starting from former president Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law regime. It has since developed into an armed force calling for societal changes, from land reforms and fair labor practices.
It appeared that peace talks would prosper under President Rodrigo Duterte’s term, considering his close relationship with some key CPP identities like founder Jose Maria Sison, his former professor.
However, mistrust between the two sides — with the government claiming that rebels are still doing ambushes despite a previous ceasefire order — led to the failure of discussions.
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