MANILA—The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) strongly condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) killing of six unarmed soldiers, saying such brutalities are prohibited by international humanitarian law.
AFP spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said further worrisome was that these troops had just came from peace and development missions that benefitted the communities.
“These acts are not only violations of their own ceasefire declaration, that is still in effect, it is an utter disregard to international humanitarian law when they used excessive force on the bodies of three soldiers they earlier abducted,” he noted.
The AFP spokesperson was referring to the incident involving three 8th Infantry Battalion troopers, who were earlier reported missing last Wednesday, after leaving their base in Barangay Manalog, Malaybalay, Bukidnon to get their subsistence allowance.
The bullet-riddled bodies of the three were found later that day, with one cadaver bearing 27 gunshot wounds, another with 26 and the other one with 24.
The NPA unilateral ceasefire is set to be lifted by 11:59 p.m. Feb. 10.
“The NPA perpetrated acts that are completely unnecessary to the already fallen soldiers,” Padilla said.
These atrocities show their clear disregard of the newly forged guidelines for the full implementation of the Joint Monitoring Committee under the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law signed by the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) leadership in Rome last month.
“Even before they announced the withdrawal of their ceasefire, they already conducted a series of atrocities against government forces beginning last Sunday,” he added.
Based from reports on the ground, the NPAs have conducted 18 attacks since January 15 this year.
These include three abduction cases involving three soldiers in separate incidents in Surigao Del Norte and Sultan Kudarat.
“We hereby demand the immediate release of Pfc. Erwin Salan abducted Jan. 29, and two other soldiers abducted Feb. 2,” he added.
“The AFP regrets that the NPA has withdrawn its ceasefire declaration. The ceasefire has been an effective manifestation of the CPP-NPA-NDF’s commitment to the peace talks and has so far given peace to the communities where they continue to operate,” the AFP spokesperson said.
The NPA withdrawal showed their insincerity and bared their insatiable taste for violence, he added.
“For our part, our various units on the ground remain faithful to our own ceasefire declaration, but are ready for any violent incidents that will arise from the NPAs withdrawal,” Padilla stressed.
He also assured the public that the AFP, as the only legitimate military organization mandated to protect the people and the communities, will take proactive defensive measures to thwart attacks from all lawless armed groups.
“We shall also continue to perform peace-building and development efforts where the people in conflict areas request us to. We will continue to capacitate local government in order to fast-track delivery of basic goods and services to their constituents,” Padilla pointed out.
The AFP spokesperson also said the military will continue to safeguard communities from criminal acts of extortion, burning of vehicles, particularly construction implements that are used for the development of these areas, farm and livelihood implements and other forms of criminal and atrocious acts — whoever is the perpetrator.
“And if ordered by the Commander-in-Chief, we will lift the SOMO (suspension-of-military-operation). It is our beholden duty to protect our citizens,” he added.