CHR urges public to rally vs. use of violence in asserting rights

By Christine Cudis / Philippine News Agency

Commission on Human Rights deputy spokesperson Marc Siapno (Screengrab)

MANILA – The Commission of Human Rights (CHR) urged the public to rally against the use of “armed violence” in asserting ideology and rights, saying conflicts affect many communities, particularly in rural areas.


“I think we need to start within the communities. Dahil at the end of the day, sila din talaga iyong pinaka-apektado dito sa armadong tunggalian (they are the most affected by armed conflict). We need to be able to rally against the use of armed violence when it comes to asserting rights,” CHR deputy spokesperson Marc Siapno said in a press conference last Monday.


Siapno said the CHR joined the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) in condemning the Communist Party of the Philippines- News People's Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF) for violating the International Humanitarian Law (IHL).


He was referring to the anti-personnel mines (APMs) detonated by the NPA that killed football player Kieth Absalon and his cousin Nolven in Masbate town last June 6.


It was later discovered the Absalon cousins also bore gunshot wounds.


The CPP-NPA claimed full responsibility for the incident and even released a statement, saying they are “willing to provide any forms of indemnity”.


“We have continuously condemned the use of improvised explosive devices, landmines simply because it violates the spirit and principle of the International Humanitarian Law. We commiserate, nakikidalamhati rin po kami sa pamilya (we sympathize with the family), kay Mrs. Vilma [Absalon],” Siapno said.


He said assertions of ideology and rights in a “violent manner” should be rejected, pushing for intensified cooperation between government security forces and the CHR to protect the rights of everyone.


“Tulad nga ng nabanggit, aanhin natin iyong (As I said, what is the use of) ideology or assertions of claims and rights in a violent manner, if these won’t translate to actual benefits on the ground,” he said. “And so, we continue to also share the goals and the vision of the government that at the end of the day, all of these things should be redound to the benefit of the communities.”


Sapno said the CPP-NPA should be held accountable “for all other crimes” they have perpetrated in violation of International Humanitarian and Human Rights Laws “since they began pursuing this armed conflict.”


“Kailangang masampahan po ng kaso, dahil isa ho rin sa mga matinding panawagan ng CHR is that, hindi po natin puwedeng gamitin ang anumang ideolohiya, para sabihin na okay lang or sapat lang para lumabag sa kaparapatang pantao (The case must be filed, because one of the strong calls of the CHR is that, we cannot use any ideology, to say that it is okay or just enough to violate human rights) or to say that we need to skirt away responsibility for the crimes committed,” he said.


He also assured that the CHR is equally committed to looking after the welfare of the fallen soldiers “in the same way that we are also looking out for the welfare of our civilians, especially those in the communities.”


“Just to note, we have also signed a memorandum of understanding also with the Armed Forces of the Philippines. And I think one of the things that we needed to highlight is that there is already a starting point, by which we can share information on these kinds of incidences,” he said.


Meanwhile, formal charges of murder and frustrated murder have been filed by the police against suspected NPA rebels responsible for the killing of the Absalons.


Brig. Gen. Jonnel Estomo, director of Police Regional Office Bicol, said charged were Eddie Rosero alias Ka Star; Lara Lagac alias Ka Ivan/Kian; Sonny Diamos; Eddie Basical Eser alias Ka Nono; Mario Esparaguerra alias Ka Mayong; Capitalio Mallo alias Ka M.I.; Diolito Medina alias Ka Michael/Uno; Arlene Salazar Rance; Lloyd Mores Escorel; Ronel Plana Rodio alias Ka Moting; Jomar Tugbo alias Ka Alden; Jemuel Dublin; Allan Goyala; Dolores Bilibit alias Ka Oyeng; Jhun Bilibit alias Ka Paka; Lenie Cabarles alias Ka Onang; Richard Laurio alias Ka Nonem; Rolly Hermina; Jesmar Noel Jesmar alias Ka Jesmar; Marla Cańete Suson; Maila Cańete Suson; Gilbert Turing; and Allan Uling.


Also on the list was Mariel Suson, 22, of Cawayan, Masbate who was arrested on Tuesday for a separate murder case for the killing of Renerio Villamor on March 15, 2020.


Police probers said Suson is a daughter of Rogelio Suson alias Manong/Julio, secretary of the NPA Larangan 2 of the communist movement's Bicol Regional Party Committee.


She, along with several other NPA members, was charged before the Regional Trial Court Branch 45 in Masbate City. (PNA)

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