Army exec condemns landmine use in NPA attack in Quezon
LUCENA CITY – The military strongly condemned the use of landmine explosives by the New People’s Army (NPA) in an attack in Quezon province that has endangered the lives of civilians, including two children.
“We condemn these inhumane acts of the terrorists. They do not value the lives of civilians, especially the children,” Lt. General Danilo Pamonag, commander of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Luzon Command, said in a statement Wednesday.
He added: “The use of IEDs (improvised explosive device) is a clear violation of the human rights of the victims.”
On Tuesday, four government soldiers and five civilians, including two children, were wounded when NPA guerrillas ambushed a military truck transporting a group of soldiers from the Army’s engineering brigade along the Bondoc Peninsula Highway in Barangay Bacong Ibaba in General
The NPA’s Apolonio Mendoza Command operating in Quezon owned the attack.
A landmine planted along the road by the NPA was also detonated, which injured civilians, including Kimberly Macalalad, 6, and her younger brother Albert, 2.
They were aboard a tricycle and passenger jeepney tailing the military truck. The victims were confined to the Bondoc Peninsula District Hospital in Catanauan town.
Cleo del Mundo, NPA spokesperson, claimed that the attack killed five soldiers and wounded nine other troops. Del Mundo said the Red fighters were willing to compensate the wounded civilians.
“We’re in the process of investigation and verification. We’re asking the family of wounded civilians to contact the NPA unit,” she said in a statement.
But Col. Elias Escarcha, commander of the Army’s 201st Infantry Brigade, refuted the casualty figures and called them “lies and propaganda.”
“We cannot hide our dead soldiers in combat because we will be giving them military honors,” he said in a phone interview Wednesday morning.
Escarcha said they were informed by people in Catanauan that the father of the wounded children is a member of Anakpawis, a leftist organization.
He challenged Karapatan, a leftist human rights group, to investigate the ambush and the use of landmine in the attack.
Escarcha said the “non-combatant” soldiers were on their way to construct a road in a remote village in Unisan town when attacked by the NPA guerrillas.
Pamonag said the attack was a clear violation of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and the convention banning the use of explosive devices where the Philippines is one of the signatories.
Pamonag also said under Republic Act 9851 (Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity), “weapons, projectiles and material and methods which are of the nature to cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering or which are inherently indiscriminate in violation of the international law of armed conflict” such as landmines and improvised explosive devices are banned.
Del Mundo claimed that the NPA rebels used “command-detonated” landmine in the ambush. Communist rebels have long maintained that the use of “command-detonated landmines” as opposed to “contact-detonated” ones, was not a violation of the mine ban treaty.
“If it is really command detonated, why (did) they still let it explode when there were jeep and tricycle right behind the military vehicle?” Escarcha said, adding that the NPA’s use of explosives was “barbaric and an act of cowardice.”
Pamonag vowed that the government forces would continue to wage war against the communist rebels to protect the people.
“We also encourage the public to join hands with the police and the military in tracking the insurgents who executed the ambush and to help in seeking justice for the victims,” he said. /lb
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