Group to serve as bridge for blast victims, NDF
DAVAO CITY—A group representing various sectors has been formed to help prepare a list of and serve as conduit for compensation to civilians wounded in a grenade attack here that communist guerrillas claimed responsibility and apologized for.
Modesto Villasanta, Protestant bishop and one of the leaders of Exodus for Justice and Peace (EJP), said EJP was formed last week in response to an appeal by the National Democratic Front (NDF) for facilitators to help deliver payments from NDF to more than 40 victims of the grenade blast in Paquibato District.
The New People’s Army (NPA) has claimed responsibility for the attack and NDF apologized and offered compensation to the victims. The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), while NDF is the umbrella organization of underground left-wing groups including CPP.
The victims were in the gymnasium of Barangay Fatima in Paquibato taking part in a carnival there when the grenade explosion took place.
NDF said in previous statements that the target of the attack was a military detachment that was about 3 meters from the gym.
“Any move that aims to heal the wounds of this civil war that has been going on for decades and that is in compliance with international humanitarian law deserves support from peace-loving individuals,” Villasanta said.
Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, who openly admits friendship with communist rebel leaders, said the presence of the military detachment does not justify the deaths of civilians.
Villasanta said the NDF’s compensation offer was a welcome step, though. It manifested a “willingness to make reparations for civilian casualties,” Villasanta said.
The military, however, said paying the victims was not enough and NDF should surrender the guerrillas who are behind the attack.
“They (NPAs) are not the legal government,” said Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza, spokesperson of the 10th Infantry Division. The guerrillas, Paniza said, should not be allowed to “rectify their errors through their kangaroo courts.”
“Justice will only be served to the victims if the perpetrators are surrendered and penalized,” Paniza said. “That is what the victims want,” he said. Allan Nawal, Inquirer Mindanao
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