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Joma group liable for 141 incidents of APM use, task force says

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has recorded 141 incidents involving production, stockpiling, transporting and use of these banned anti-personnel mine by the communist New People’s Army, injuring or killing more than 30 civilians.

“Based on Intelligence information, the CPP-NPA-NDF has continuously produced, stockpiled, transported, and used these prohibited weapons with the blessing and approval of CPP leaders Jose Ma. Sison, Luis Jalandoni, Juliet De Lima-Sison and other CTG leaders, making them fully responsible and liable for the deaths of dozens of civilians, including Kieth Absalon,” Undersecretary Severo Catura, Executive Director of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat (PHRCS) and NTF-ELCAC spokesperson on human rights said.

Sison and other leaders of the CPP-NPA-NDF must be held accountable for the summary executions of Kieth and Nolven Absalon, even as families of the victims, civil society groups, human rights defenders, and peace advocates stood in solidarity in condemning the perpetrators, the NTF-ELCAC said yesterday.

“We are fortunate that we have a domestic law (RA 9851) that clearly effects our adherence to IHL. This law, signed in 2009, will weigh heavily on the charges against Sison et. al that will be filed in the country’s appropriate courts to exact accountability,” Catura added.

Section 10 of RA 9851 provides that “a superior shall be criminally responsible as a principal for such crimes committed by subordinates under his/her effective command and control, or effective authority and control as the case may be, as a result of his/her failure to properly exercise control over such subordinates.”

The NPA has categorically admitted to killing the Absalons last June 6 in Masbate City by detonating an improvised anti-personnel mine (APM) while they were biking. The use of both manufactured and improvised APMs, including improvised explosive devices (IED), are prohibited under said laws as they do not discriminate between innocent civilians and combatants.

“It does not matter if Sison or other leaders gave the direct order to kill the Absalons or that they did not have actual knowledge of the attack; the law does not distinguish such. What is essential is that they will be held criminally responsible as principals because of their being known as leaders of the said terrorist group,” he added.

In 2002, the US State Department issued Executive Order No. 13224 specifically naming Sison as a terrorist by virtue of his being head of the CPP-NPA which has been declared as a terrorist organization.

In 2019, the UN, through the Secretary General’s Report on Children in Armed Conflict, listed the NPA along with the Taliban, ISIS/ Daesh, and Al-Shahab, as perpetrators of grave violations against children.

In February this year, the European Union (EU), in Council Resolution 2021/138, renewed the inclusion of the CPP-NPA its list of terrorists.

As reaffirmed in RA 9851, it is the sole duty of the Philippine government under international treaties and conventions to punish such crimes to put an end to impunity involving terrorist perpetrators.



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