CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/01 October) — The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has denied that its indemnification order for the victims of the grenade blast in Paquibato District, Davao City last month was a “stopgap,” and argued that what they did was in “stark contrast to the denial of responsibility by the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the Hacienda Luisita massacre in November 2004.”
Late last month, NDFP Southern Mindanao spokesperson Rubi del Mundo said they have issued the indemnification order after admitting that a New People’s Army (NPA) unit was responsible for the grenade blast in Barangay Fatima, Paquibato District last September 1.
At least 41 people were wounded when a grenade apparently intended for an Army detachment landed instead inside a covered court beside it where several residents were watching a pre-fiesta circus show.
NDFP chief peace negotiator Luis Jalandoni made the declaration in an email over the weekend in reaction to government peace panel chair Alexander Padilla’s statement posted on the website of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP).
Padilla called NDFP’s indemnification order a “stopgap and clouding the issue of violation of international humanitarian law and Philippine law.”
“The grenade attack is in violation of international humanitarian law and Philippine law,” he said, reiterating the government’s position that “the suspects behind the bombing should face criminal charges before the court.”
In the same statement Padilla cited the “countless civilian victims of collateral damage in over four decades of the Communist insurgency.”
But Jalandoni retorted that “it is Alex Padilla who is attempting to becloud the blatant violations of international humanitarian law by the GPH in setting up military detachments amidst civilian communities, carrying out military occupation of communities suspected of supporting the revolutionary movement and instituting a reign of terror through rampant human rights violations of civilians.”
“He (Padilla) should get the facts before shooting his mouth. There have been previous cases of indemnification carried out by the revolutionary movement in accordance with its revolutionary principles. These are well recorded,” the NDFP official added.
Meanwhile, 4th Infantry Division spokesperson Lt Col Eugenio Julio Osias IV said the Maoist rebels did not have the belligerency status to issue such an order and demanded instead that they surrender the guerrilla unit that executed the attack.
Osias said the NDFP should “at least inform the general public on what punitive actions they have imposed against their members.”
“Indemnifying the victims and their families is not enough. They should surrender the perpetrators to our justice system if they are really sincere in what they are doing. If they will not do this then they can do the same thing in the future and get away from their criminal liabilities again and again,” the military official said.
However, in the same statement Jalandoni argued that “the rule of law is the rule of justice in accordance with the pro-people principles of the people’s democratic government.”
“The sham rule of law under the reactionary government (GRP/GPH) is characterized by impunity for the more than 1,200 extrajudicial killings and more than 200 enforced disappearances under the Arroyo regime, carried on under the Aquino regime with the addition of more than 100 extrajudicial killings, including the killings of Italian missionary Fr. Fausto ‘Pops’ Tentorio and Dutch development worker, Willem Geertman,” he said.
The NPA, armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, has been waging a “protracted people’s war” in the country since 1969. It is the longest running insurgency in Asia.
On-and-off peace talks between the NDFP and the government started in 1986. Negotiations have resumed under the Aquino III administration, but talks again bogged down after the government rejected the NDFP’s demand for the release of its jailed “peace consultants.” (Cong Corrales/MindaNews)