AFP pushes for charges vs. communist leaders over Masbate landmine attack

By John Roson / Daily Tribune

Military officials on Thursday said top leaders of the communist movement should also be charged for the recent landmine attack that killed two persons, including varsity football player Kieth Absalon, in Masbate.


Maj. Gen. Edgardo De Leon, Armed Forces deputy chief of staff for operations, said the International Humanitarian Law (IHL) also holds leaders responsible through its principle on the “Responsibility of the Superiors.”


“Under IHL, the superiors, not only the direct perpetrator, are also responsible and liable,” he said.


De Leon also pointed to the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) signed by the government, represented by former House Speaker Jose De Venecia, and by Jose Maria Sison, Luis Jalandoni, Fidel Agcaoili, and Coni Ledesma, on the side of the National Democratic Front.


“That document enumerated the leaders who should be brought to the courts of justice,” he said.


“They should be responsible for championing IHL. Now that their organization committed the violation, where are they now? They are in the Netherlands,” he added.


De Leon said the country giving the communist leaders asylum should be informed that they are “driving IHL violations.”


He also cited Republic Act 9851, which adopted the IHL’s principle on superiors’ liability.


Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesman, echoed De Leon’s view and reiterated the government’s call for the communist movement to surrender those involved in the incident in Masbate.


“Isuko nila itong mga involved sa pagpatay na ito, sa murder na ito, at hindi lamang ito dapat hihinto sa mga mismong nagpasabog kundi sa kanyang pinuno, dapat kasama sila,” Arevalo said at the government-hosted Laging Handa briefing.


The Department of National Defense earlier pointed out that Sunday’s attack by rebels in Masbate, which killed Absalon and his cousin, was wrong from the start because it was carried out using prohibited anti-personnel landmines.


According to the military, it recorded 141 incidents where communist rebels either used, stockpiled, transported, and produced landmines, from 2010 to 2020.


A total of 68 those incidents were recorded last year alone, the AFP said.


These resulted in casualties, including five civilians who were killed and 24 others who were wounded, it added.

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