By CPP Information Bureau
The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) deeply regrets the wounding of four civilian medical personnel belonging to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) who were accidentally injured in an ambush carried out by a unit of the New People’s Army at 7:00 pm on 2 March, in Barangay (village) Managa, Bansalan, Davao del Sur. At the same time, the CPP denounced the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ 39th Infantry Battalion for concealing the ambulance and endangering the lives of the civilian medical personnel.
According to initial reports by the NPA field unit, the Red fighters who carried out the ambush detonated an explosive against a convoy of two 6×6 military trucks. They succeeded in hitting the second truck but shrapnel inadvertently hit a trailing ambulance. The NPA unit reported that the Red fighters failed to distinguish the ambulance as it did not blare its sirens and turned off its lights.
The CPP acknowledges the corrective steps taken by the New People’s Army Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command (NPA-SMR-ROC). “It is just for the NPA to shoulder the expenses to be incurred by the injured personnel of the PDRRMC as an immediate remedial measure. Succeeding investigations to be carried out will determine whether disciplinary action will be meted out and what resolutions the NPA should adopt to prevent such mistakes in the future.”
“The CPP and the NPA reaffirm the provisions of the Geneva Conventions which accord respect and protection under all circumstances to personnel exclusively performing medical duties,” said the CPP.
“We must, however, denounce the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for deliberately endangering the lives of civilian medical personnel when officers of the 39th Infantry Battalion concealed the presence of the ambulances by ordering that the sirens and lights be turned off as they traveled with a convoy of military trucks.
“International humanitarian law requires that medical personnel who are to exclusively perform medical duties, whether civilian or military, must display distinctive and discernible emblems, making them identifiable even from a distance,” pointed out the CPP. The Red fighters of the NPA recognize the emblem of the red cross or red crescent on a white background as the universal emblem of medical personnel.
“The officers of the 39th Infantry Battalion who ordered that the ambulance turn off its siren and lights must be held responsible for endangering the lives of the medical personnel on board,” said the CPP. “Such orders made the ambulance indistinguishable from the military trucks it was travelling with and exposed it to unncessary hostile action.”