MANILA – The Absalon family is not accepting any apology or indemnification from the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) over its unprovoked anti-personnel mine (APM) attack that killed two of their members and injured another in Masbate City on June 6, a military official said on Thursday.
“Yan namang paumanhin na yan ay tinanggihan ng pamilyang Absalon, ang sinasabi nila, hindi dapat magtatapos sa paghingi lamang ng sorry, at hindi dapat, kung magbibigay man sila ng sinasabi nilang indemnification ay hindi nila tatangapin, ng pamilyang Absalon ang anumang tulong na mangagaling dito sa kagawad ng mga teroristang grupong ito (That apology was rejected by the Absalon family. What they said was that saying sorry will not end the liability of the NPA perpetrators, and even if they will give indemnification, the Absalon family will not accept it or any help from this terrorist group),” Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesperson said in a Laging Handa briefing.
Arevalo said the AFP shares the Absalon family’s sentiments, adding that this reason why pursuit and law enforcement operations are still ongoing against the communist terrorists behind the blast that killed Far Eastern University football player Keith Absalon, his cousin Nolven, and injured Keith’s 16-year old nephew, Chrisbin Daniel.
An Inquirer report on Thursday quoted the family’s matriarch, Vilma, as saying that they will not accept the apology from the communist terrorists.
“That’s not justice; saying sorry is easy. Attaining justice does not start with saying sorry. Honestly, I want them gone. I want them to disappear and stop their destructive activities,” Vilma was quoted in the Inquirer report.
The report added that they will let the government file charges against the perpetrators of the attack.
“It is hard to accept. We raised him, he [worked hard] to reach his dreams and [then] he would die just like that,” said Vilma Absalon, Kieth’s mother, after the NPA took full responsibility and expressed its “deep remorse” over the explosion,” the report quoted her as saying.
Arevalo said government security troops are still gathering evidence that might be used to file charges against the suspects behind the attack.
He also scored the Makabayan bloc lawmakers’ suggestion that the family file a complaint at the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) regarding the incident as the body has been long dissolved with the termination of the peace talks with the communist terrorists upon orders of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
The peace talks with the communist terrorist group, he said, should not be resumed as they are only using the opportunity to violate human rights, kill innocent civilians, and continue with the stockpiling, manufacture, and transportation of APMs.
He added that the communist movement might also take advantage of this to extort from politicians ahead of next year’s elections.
On Nov. 23, 2017, the Chief Executive signed Proclamation 360 declaring the termination of peace talks with the communist terrorists citing the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF)’s insincerity to the peace process.
Meanwhile, AFP deputy chief-for-operations, Maj. Gen. Edgardo de Leon, said the leadership of the CPP-NPA-NDF must be held liable for the incident.
De Leon cited the International Humanitarian Law’s (IHL) principle of the “responsibility of the superiors.”
“Under IHL, the superiors, not only the direct perpetrator are also responsible and liable (in the committed violation),” he said.
He said the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and IHL (CARHRIHL) that was signed by the Philippine government and the NDF in 1998.
“That document enumerated the leaders who should be brought to the courts of justice. We have read the statement of a group of lawmakers that mentions CARHRIHL. This document says in the first page, ‘The National Democratic Front of the Philippines including the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army is hereinafter referred to as the NDFP,’ this means that the CPP-NPA is under the government of NDFP. They should be responsible in championing IHL. Now that their organization committed the violation, where are they now? They are in the Netherlands,” he added.
The same principle is adopted in Republic Act 9851 or 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.
Under Section 10 of the law, “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”.
“The country that gave these leaders asylum should know the crimes that these personalities have committed. They need to be made aware that the people they granted asylum to are the ones driving IHL violations in our country,” de Leon said.
141 incidents of APMs use
From 2010 to 2020, the AFP recorded 141 incidents involving the CPP-NPA-NDF using, stockpiling, transporting, and producing the banned anti-personnel mines. The year 2020 recorded the most incidents, with 68.
These resulted in casualties, including five civilians killed and 24 others who were wounded.
“We are calling on those who have been victims of APM use and other violations of IHL to speak up and join us in protecting other civilians from the abuses and attacks of the CPP-NPA-NDF. We have IHL and RA 9851 to help us hold them accountable for their actions. It is time to act together to end their abuses,” de Leon said.
The use of APMs is a violation of the International Humanitarian Law and the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention adopted by the international community, prohibiting the acquisition, production, stockpiling, and use of weapons.
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)