By RIGOBERTO F. SANCHEZ
Spokesperson, NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Command
The New People’s Army Southern Mindanao Regional Command issues this apology for launching a counter-offensive ambush against the 39th Infantry Battalion on 2 March 2014 at 7:00 pm that hit an ambulance and injured four rescuers in Barangay (village) Managa, Bansalan, Davao del Sur. We express our deep regret and commiserate with the victims from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, namely Genaro Doronio Dumayas (driver), Bonita dela Cruz (nurse), Arnel Comandante Veloroso and Alberto Simbajon Cabual.
We take responsibility for this act as we take cognizance of the fact that the medical staff and mobile medical units should not have been made target of any attack and whose protection and/or safety is guaranteed under international humanitarian law.
We have also ordered for a full investigation and if complete data and evidence warrant, promise to undertake appropriate measures and impose disciplinary actions against the responsible NPA unit.
Initial reports from the field indicated that the operatives under the Mt. Apo Subregional Command who were tasked to discharge the command detonated explosives failed to distinguish the ambulance from its target, the two military trucks. The ambulance was inconspicuous in as far as it did not discharge its siren, nor was it using any headlights, as per orders from the 39th Infantry Battalion. The same Army unit has utilized the civilian rescuers to collect the military casualties following its defeat earlier that day at 11:00am, when the Red fighters ambushed them in sitio Bagsak, Barangay Managa.
At around 6:00 in the evening on 2 March, the NPA operatives were alerted of the arrival of two military vehicles. When the first vehicle passed through the ambush route, the Red fighters did not immediately switch on the trigger, preferring to wait to confirm that the next vehicle was the 6×6 truck. When the second vehicle passed through, the Red operatives discharged the explosives against the military vehicle. Regrettably, the blast affected the ambulance which was closely following the 6×6 truck.
The NPA regional Command has already ordered necessary assistance to be extended to the civilian victims for their speedy recovery, and so that they can get back to their medical/rescue profession in haste. The NPA, likewise, assures the GPH (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) local authorities that civilian and/or medical volunteers are not targets of attack and should not be punished in the course of their neutral and humanitarian duties. The NPA shall also review policies and procedures governing its tactical military operations to strengthen this resolve.
The NPA likewise calls on civilian authorities, the medical and rescue individuals and institutions to refrain from carrying out other tasks that grants advantageous positions to the enemy and adversely forces the Red fighters to assume in active defence. We maintain that medical personnel are only guaranteed absolute protection in so far as they remain neutral in the armed conflict. Medical personnel and medical transport should have fixed distinctive signs recognizable at a distance like siren and appropriate lighting, to prevent breach of their protective status whenever they enter areas of armed conflict.
All in all, the two ambuscades last 2 March yielded 13 fatalities and 11 wounded 39th Infantry Battalion soldiers. Among the casualties were two lieutenants, two corporals, and seven private first class soldiers. One Red fighter was wounded in the ambuscades. The ambuscades targeted the atrocious 39th Infantry Battalion, the fascist Army unit responsible for grave human rights abuses in Davao del Sur and North Cotabato.