MANILA – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday asked the Makabayan bloc to stop insisting on the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws (CARHRIHL) because the country already has Republic Act (RA) 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity.
The DILG earlier slammed the Left-wing bloc for misleading the Absalon family when it asked the family to file a case against the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) with the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) under the framework of the CARHRIHL for the deaths of Kieth and Nolven Absalon in a premeditated attack in Masbate.
DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said the Left-wing bloc should stop rubbing salt to the wounds of the family because the JMC is non-existent and has closed shop since the collapse of the peace talks.
“The JMC does not exist. Period. And even if it did, it had no investigative nor prosecutorial powers. It can only request for investigation to the concerned party,” he said.
Malaya said insisting on the CARHRIHL is useless.
“RA 9851 is the correct legal platform where the families of victims and our government can assert and exact accountability and get justice. CARHRIHL is just an agreement, this is a law. Obvious naman kung alin ang mas mabigat (It’s obvious which one has more weight),” he said.
“Moreover, the CPP-NPA does not respect CARHRIHL because it uses both command-donated and contact-detonated landmines as offensive weapons. CARHRIHL clearly prohibits the use of land mines against people especially civilians and yet the Makabayan Bloc wants the family to use this very same agreement to bring the perpetrators to justice. There is no rhyme nor logic,” he added.
In a statement, the CPP also insisted on the CARHRIHL, saying “Under the CARHRIHL, we are obliged to cooperate with the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) Section of the JMC if a complaint is filed before it.”
Instead of pointing the family to an endless goose chase, the Left-wing bloc should instead join the government, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and many groups in calling on the CPP-NPA to surrender the perpetrators so that they can be made accountable for their crimes.
Malaya said since the Makabayan bloc has admitted to “engagements” with the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front (NDF), then it is the responsibility of the bloc as government officials to call on the Communist terrorists to surrender the perpetrators.
In a hearing on Nov. 24, 2020, Bayan Muna leader Teddy Casino told the Senate that “our attitude with them is we engage because we recognize that their struggles are rooted in legitimate issues and grievances of our people.”
“They themselves admitted that they have a healthy engagement with the CPP-NPA, so why don’t they use that relationship to bring the perpetrators to justice? They are the only entities in government that have that kind of relationship. Is that too much to ask?” Malaya said.
He said special courts have been designated by the Supreme Court to try war crimes such as those perpetrated in the Masbate attack.
Section 18 of RA 9851 provides that the Regional Trial Court of the Philippines shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over the crimes punishable under the Act. Their judgments may be appealed or elevated to the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court as provided by law.
It provides that the Supreme Court shall designate special courts to try cases involving crimes punishable under the Act. For these cases, the CHR, the Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police, or other concerned law enforcement agencies shall designate prosecutors or investigators as the case may be. (PNA)