BAGUIO CITY (May 21) — New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas in Abra maintain they strictly adhere to international conventions of war in the conduct of assaults against government troopers in Boliney, Abra as they deny that the attacks were meant to stop the elections.
Diego Wadagan, NPA’s Agustin Begnalen Command (ABC) spokesperson in a statement said they strictly adhered to international conventions of war such as Protocols I & II of the 1946 Geneva Convention, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in the consecutive attacks launched against police and military forces on May 13 to 16.
According to earlier reports, NPA guerrillas attacked an army-Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) detachment on May 13 in Kilong-olao, Boliney where a militiaman was killed. The same reports said the guerrillas captured four army officers of the 77th IB on May 15 and ambushed soldiers belonging to the 41st IB on May 16 also in Boliney.
Wadagan stressed that the captured army officers were accorded the rights of prisoners of war and were released on the same day to local officials after establishing that they do not have records of human rights violations nor any blood debt against the people. He added that the said army officers were not in possession of any ballot box or election paraphernalia as earlier claimed by army officials.
“The NPA did not release them in exchange for such fictitious ballots, but out of humanitarian reasons. Neither did the NPA use them as “shields in their withdrawal” because in the first place, there were no other enemy forces that time, and in the second place, the NPA does not use human shields, unlike the AFP. And lastly, the NPA did not withdraw, but remained in the area where the officers were captured which was exactly the same place where the 41st IB was ambushed the next day,” Wadagan’s statement read.
The NPA spokesperson claimed that government troopers are not doing their duties in protecting the conduct of election in Abra.
“In fact, some elements of the 41st IB and the PNP render their services to highest-bidder warlords in Abra. This is the reason why despite being under Comelec control since the start of the campaign period, election-related violence were unabated in certain areas where there is a large concentration of 41st IB troopers and PNP-PMG/RMG police personnel,” Wadagan said.
Wadagan further stressed that the ambush was meant to punish the 41st IB troopers for their gross human rights violations against the people and not to stop the election process as army officials claim. He added that the NPA did not take any hostage among local residents.
Wadagan further said NPA knew by heart the international treaties of war prohibit the use of self-detonating explosives and that NPA guerrillas used command-detonated land-mines. “So as to make sure that explosives will be detonated only against enemy troops and actual military targets, switches are triggered by well-trained and highly-disciplined Red fighters and commanders,” he said.
Wadagan added that the wounded and captured soldiers were treated humanely and were administered with the necessary first aid, before they were released.
As usual, the AFP tried to reverse its humiliating defeats by spouting lies, the rebel spokesperson added.
Police and army officers vowed to file charges against New People’s Army (NPA) guerrillas of Abra at the Joint Monitoring Committee of the CARHRIL for using land-mines in their May 16 ambush.
Abra Police Director Sr. Supt. Alexander Pumecha said the use of (self-detonating) land-mines is a violation of the provisions of the CARHRIL signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front (NDF) on March 16, 1998. # Kim Quitasol with reports from Ace Alegre for NORDIS