Int’l, local laws ban APMs: AFP official

By Priam Nepomuceno / Philippine News Agency

Brig. Gen. Joel Alejandro Nacnac, Director of Armed Forces of the AFP Center for Law of Armed Conflict (Screengrab)

MANILA – Due to its indiscriminate nature, the use, production, and transport of anti-personnel mines (APMs) and other similar weapons, have been banned by international and local laws.


This, according to Armed Forces of the Philippines Center for Law of Armed Conflict (AFPCLOAC) director, Brig. Gen. Joel Alejandro Nacnac, during the "Tagged: Debunking Lies by Telling the Truth" episode on June 14.


"So we have several international laws and we have also our local law that relates to the use, production, transport, or management of the APMs. So basically under the 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons, it was discussed that there should be a limit to the use of these weapons in warfare that’s why they have laws of warfare. And in 1996 under Amended Protocol II, there’s a limit to the use of indiscriminate—or the use of landmines because of its indiscriminate damage caused to the persons being subjected to this type of warfare," he said.


Amended Protocol II strengthened existing rules on the use of mines, booby traps and other devices, he added.


Nacnac said there is also the Ottawa Convention of 1997 or the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Treaty that prohibits the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of APMs and their destruction.


"Pag sinabi po kasing APM, ang target po nito iyong tao, hindi po iyong armored vehicle or ibang vehicles po ‘no or ibang items (When you say APMs, the intended target are people, not armored vehicle, or any other type of vehicles or other items). It's directed towards a person. And according to this treaty which the Philippines is a signatory and the whole international community, (this is) of course (prohibited)," he added.


Republic Act 9851


In the Philippines, Nacnac said legislators passed Republic Act 9851 (An Act Defining and penalizing Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, Organizing Jurisdiction, Designating Special Courts and for Related Purposes) in 2009.


One of the provisions of Section 4 of Republic Act 9851 is that combatants are prohibited from using APMs as it can cause "superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering or which are inherently indiscriminate", he added.


"Unahin ko pong i-explain iyong ‘superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering'. Iyon po kasing landmine, hindi po nasisiguro kung ano pong parte ng katawan ang tatamaan ng landmine; puwede pong mawalan ng ulo, mawalan ng kalahati ng katawan ang isang target ng landmine. At bakit naman po ito ‘inherently indiscriminate’? Katulad nga po iyong nangyari diyan sa Masbate na kahit civilian puwede hong tamaan. Hindi ho ito puwedeng—iyong APM po kasi ay puwedeng makatama ng military, civilian or sino pa man nandoon sa direksiyon ng kaniyang tina-target (Let me explain first what is 'superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering'. When landmines (APMs) are used, we are not sure what part of the human body the shrapnel will hit, the victim can lose his head, could lose half his body. And why 'inherently indiscriminate'? Like what happened in Masbate, even civilians can be hit - APMs can hit military or civilians or anyone in the direction it is targeting)," Nacnac said.


He was referring to the June 6 APM attack of the New People's Army (NPA) on a group of civilians, resulting in the instant deaths of Far Eastern University football players Kieth Absalon, 21, and his 40-year-old cousin Nolven in Barangay Anas, Masbate City.


Nolven’s 16-year-old son sustained injuries.


Under Section 10 of Republic Act 9851, Nacnac said, “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".


This does not refer only to APMs use but other violations included in Republic Act 9851.


This is especially if the superior knew his subordinates will use such a destructive and indiscriminate weapon and failed to take all necessary and responsible measures.


The AFP earlier said the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP)-NPA is behind a total of 141 incidents of use, stockpiling, transport, and production of anti-personnel mines or landmines from 2010 to 2020 which have so far caused 224 casualties.


The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)

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