NPA denies using banned landmines

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/17 September) — The communist-led New People’s Army has branded as pure propaganda claims by the military that it is using landmines that endanger civilians.

The NPA was responding to statements coming from the military that it uses anti-personnel and anti-vehicle landmines that endanger non-combatants.

Military officials issued the pronouncements after the reported discovery last week of landmines in Tagbina, Surigao del Sur and Bunawan, Agusan del Sur.

In an email, Marco Valbuena of the Communist Party of the Philippines’ media bureau said that the “New People’s Army (NPA) strictly adheres to the international protocols and conventions in the conduct of war, and particularly those with regard to the use of explosives and/or landmines in the conduct of people’s war in the Philippines.”

The Ottawa Treaty bans the use of personnel-detonated landmines as these endanger civilians even after an armed conflict has ended. The Philippines ratified the treaty in 1997.

Valbuena said that although not a party to the agreement, “the NPA adheres in principle to the Ottawa Treaty of 1997 which bans the use of pressure-detonated land mines which imperil civilians and non-military personnel.”

Only states can become parties to treaties, although non-state actors such as rebel groups may issue unilateral declarations of intent to abide by such treaties.

What the NPA uses, Valbuena said, are command-detonated explosives in its tactical offensives against legitimate military targets.

“These types of explosives are legitimate weapons expressly allowed in the Ottawa Treaty,” he said.

He added that what should be “investigated and condemned” are the “indiscriminate firing by the military of artillery that harm civilian villages.” (BenCyrus G. Ellorin/MindaNews)