DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 September) – Although it had admitted responsibility for the September 1 blast in a village here, the New People’s Army (NPA) said it won’t surrender to government authorities the unit responsible for the incident, calling such demand “deceptive and illusory.”
In a statement released Monday afternoon. Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command in Southern Mindanao said: “Such an idiotic proposal is to deny the existence of the NPA, an armed force governed by a political authority and guided by strict rules of conduct and discipline.”
Sanchez, in an earlier statement, admitted NPA guerrillas were responsible for the September 1 grenade blast in Barangay Fatima in Paquibato District that injured 48 civilians during a circus.
Police said a grenade was lobbed at adjacent military detachment but it bounced off and exploded in the covered court where the circus was held.
In rejecting the demand, Sanchez said the “People’s Democratic Government exercises its own justice system and dispenses revolutionary justice in determining the consequences of the 1st Pulang Bagani Company- NPA’s action.”
He said they are in the process of reaching out and making amends to the victims of the blast, and reeducating and reviewing the International Humanitarian Law guidelines for its combatants and commanders to avoid similar incidents in the future.
“The NPA also draws valuable lessons to reaffirm and validate the correct policies and processes governing its military operations and implementation of the Geneva Conventions and other war protocols,” he added.
Sanchez said “the NPA is not subject or subsumed within the legal and constitutional system and processes of the Government of the Philippines (GPH).”
He added: “As prescribed in the Hague Declaration which laid the framework of the GPH-NDFP peace negotiations, the US-Aquino regime and its AFP have no right to presume or demand from the revolutionary forces and its people to recognize, work under and lay prostrate before the GPH political authority, constitution, legal system and judicial processes.”
In a press briefing Monday, Mayor Sara Duterte said the NPA has to give up the persons responsible for the incident “because it is already a police matter and it’s a crime.”
“They have to give up kadtong mga tawhana (those people) so that the police can file appropriate charges sa ilaha (against them) and they answer the charges in court,” she said.
But she conceded that if the NPA did not surrender the attackers, all the police can do is file a complaint with John Does as respondents pending the identification of suspects.
After the NPA admitted responsibility for the blast the mayor invited members of the rebel group who were not involved in the incident to talk peace and all they need is to name a place and time.
The NPA’s statement meanwhile said Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte was correct in his view that military detachments should be pulled out from civilian communities.
He had said in an earlier interview that having detachments in populated areas is not sound as it invites attacks by rebels thus endangering civilians.
However, the vice mayor clarified in his television program on Sunday, “Gikan sa masa, para sa masa,” that he did not call for the military pullout in Paquibato.
Sanchez, citing the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (Carhrihl), said: “Civilian population shall have the right to be protected against the risks and dangers posed by the presence of military camps in urban centers and other populated areas”.
Carhrihl was signed 20 years ago between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front, political umbrella of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the NPA. It provides for the protection of noncombatants in the armed conflict between the two parties that have had help peace talks since the administration of the late President Corazon C. Aquino.
The 10th Infantry Division, in a statement last Saturday, said, the NPA “has been relentless in sowing terror and chaos in the region despite the existing peace negotiation being pursued by the city government and concerned units are presently undertaking.”
“We can never allow injustice to continue flourishing in the region and in the whole country, hence we will never rest our efforts until we apprehended the perpetrators and put them behind bars,” the statement said. (Lorie Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)