No ideology can justify rights violations, CHR reminds NPA anew
MANILA, Philippines — The communist New People’s Army (NPA) was reminded again that no ideology could justify any human rights violations, after an improvised explosive device from the rebel group went off in Eastern Samar, killing a soldier and two militia members.
In a statement on Friday, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) reiterated that improvised explosive devices (IEDs) cannot distinguish who it can obliterate between fighters and civilians, and must not be used in the NPA’s armed struggle.
CHR deputy spokesperson Marc Louis Siapno assured the public that their regional office would investigate the incident.
“[CHR] condemns another ambush allegedly carried out by members of the New People’s Army against government forces in Jipapad town, Eastern Samar on Wednesday morning, 7 July 2021,” Siapno said.
“In the larger view, we reiterate that no ideology can justify violations of human rights nor be used as a reason to excuse themselves from any accountability. We urge the government to pursue the perpetrators of this act in keeping with the rule of law. CHR, through its office in Region VIII, shall also be pursuing an independent probe on this case,” he added.
Reports from the 8th Infantry Battalion based in Catbalogan City, Samar on Wednesday showed that 60 NPA rebels attacked government forces who were on their way to Sitio Casapa.
Government troopers were able to return fire, but the rebels threw IEDs over the soldiers’ direction, resulting to the death of a soldier and two militia from the Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (Cafgu).
This is not the first time in 2021 that NPA rebels were involved in detonating an IED, just a month ago, rights groups including CHR itself condemned the communist forces after an anti-personnel landmine claimed the lives of Far Eastern University football standout Kieth Absalon and his cousin, trade unionist Nolven Absalon.
CHR stressed that the use of such weapons are not allowed under the international humanitarian law (IHL), due to the fact that these explosives cannot determine anyone, whether the victim is a combatant or a non-combatant, in its destructive path.
The Communist Party of the Philippines, which oversees the NPA, admitted to the incident, vowing to place corrective measures to avoid similar incidents. They also offered indemnification for the Absalon family.
However, the Philippine National Police maintained that the best course of action would be to surrender the rebel fighters responsible for the incident, which would then allow the government to prosecute them.
CHR emphasized anew the need for government forces and the communist rebels to comply with the IHL even in the face of armed conflict.
“We stress that even non-State actors are bound to comply with [IHL], alongside the government. In this incident, the indiscriminate use of IEDs, including landmines, continues to fail in distinguishing between civilians and combatants and protect especially civilians and communities from the ill effects of armed conflict, which violates the spirit of IHL,” Siapno explained.
“The Commission condoles with the families of the deceased and hopes for a quick recovery for the individuals wounded in this incident, as we also continuously call for an end to senseless violence,” he added.
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