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NPA's landmine attack in Masbate an 'international crime', says Palace

By Genalyn Kabiling / Manila Bulletin

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque (File photo/Malacañang)

The communist rebels must be prosecuted and penalized for committing an international crime after it launched a landmine explosion that killed two people in Masbate, Malacañang said Tuesday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the New People’s Army rebels behind the attack were “guilty” of such war crime, citing the 1997 international pact that bans the use of anti-personnel landmines in warfare.

“‘Yan ay isang international crime at importante na mahuli, malitis, maparusahan ang mga tao ng NPA na patuloy na gumagamit ng landmines (That is an international crime and it is important the NPA members using the landmines must be caught, prosecuted and punished),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Tuesday, June 8.

“Inuulit ko po (I repeat) that’s an international crime, a crime against the international community that is worst crime can commit and the NPA is guilty of it,” he said.

Reports said the landmine blast claimed the lives of Keith Absalon, 21, a football varsity player of the Far Eastern University (FEU), and his cousin, Nolven Absalon, 40. Nolven’s son, 16, was injured from the mine blast allegedly planted by NPA rebels last June 6.

Roque said such anti-personnel landmines have been prohibited since they do not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

“Hindi lang yan krimen dito sa Pilipinas (It is a crime not just in the Philippines), that is a crime against humanity. It is a war crime. Ipinagbabawal ‘yan ng Ottawa Convention (That is prohibited by the Ottawa Convention),” Roque said.

“Ang landmines po ay nilalabag ang prinsipyo ng distinction sa international humanitarian law dahil kahit sinong paa po ay puwedeng mag-trigger ng pagsabog niyan. hindi lang paa ng mandirigma (The landmines violate the principle of distinction under the international humanitarian law because anyone’s foot can trigger the blast. It’s not just the combatant’s),” he said.

In a televised address Monday, June 7, the President denounced the communist rebels for their atrocities, including the recent attack on troops involved in a food aid mission in Quezon City. He criticized the rebels for their “sheer brutality” as he vowed to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.

Duterte said peace talks would succeed during his term or any other president if the rebels would not stop their atrocities against the people. Peace negotiations with the rebels were terminated by the government back in 2017 in protest of their attacks on government troops and the civilian populace.



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