Philippine Army must comply with International Humanitarian Law

Philippine Army must comply with IHL and CARHRIHL, refrain from engaging in acts of reprisal against NPA hors de combat

(A statement of the Merardo Arce Command-Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command-New People's Army regarding the three wounded NPA undergoing medical treatment facilitated by Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte)

By Merardo Arce Command

NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command

On 29 May 2011, a unit of the Conrado Heredia Command-Guerrilla Front 20 Operations Command, under the Merardo Arce Command of the New People's Army in Southern Mindanao, engaged and repulsed a platoon of the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion-First Scout Ranger Regiment (FSRR) as the latter attacked an NPA tactical position in Sitio Karampil, Barangay Aliwagwag, Cateel, Davao Oriental.

The FSRR — considered an elite unit of the Philippine Army — suffered eleven (11) casualties that included eight killed and three wounded, contrary to the pronouncement of the 10th Infantry Division spokesperson Lt. Col. Lyndon Paniza. Two Red fighters were martyred and four others were wounded, three of them seriously.

After receiving first aid from the NPA medical personnel, the three criticially-wounded comrades — Ka Enchang (Vanessa de los Reyes) was transported and airlifted to Davao City while Ka Jerome and Ka Diwa are currently on their way to Davao City to seek immediate medical attention. One wounded comrade remained in a medical station within the guerilla base as his injury required no special medical facility, and the medical care given by NPA combat medics was already sufficient.

The emergency process was carried out via civilian channels under the auspices of Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. The local official of the government of the Republic of the Philippines facilitated the medical evacuation as a positive gesture to reciprocate the humanitarian actions previously undertaken by the MAC-NPA, particularly the recent releases of the NPA prisoners of war in the region.

Several battalions of the 10th ID of the Philippine Army including the 2nd Scout Ranger Battalion are in the thick of another wave of full combat operations in at least 13 municipalities in Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental and Agusan del Sur which began on 22 May. Behind the facade of "civil-military operation" and "special operations," the 10th ID launched offensive combat operations in Maragusan, Compostela, Monkayo, Montevista, Maco, Mawab, Pantukan and Laak in Compostela Valley; Cateel, Boston, Manay and Tarragona in Davao Oriental; and Trento in Agusan del Sur.

The recent encounter against the 2nd Scout Rangers was the third combat engagement since these military operations started. But in a span of only one week, the 10th ID already had immense combat losses: five 66th Infantry Battalion soldiers killed in an ambush on 27 May in Sitio Kahayag, Barangay Andili, Mawab; and three dead and six wounded personnel of the 67th IB in another ambush on the same day in Sitio Junction, Barangay Cabasagan, Boston.

Added to this casualty count are the eight killed and three wounded 2nd Scout Rangers in Barangay Aliwagwag, Cateel. Peasants in the area report that two Scout Ranger officers died in combat, quoting direct statements from the Scout Ranger elements themselves.

There are indications that the 10th ID is poised to undertake retaliatory actions. Among them is the positioning of military intelligence agents in the hospitals where the wounded Red fighters were previously and presently confined. But they must be compelled to comply with International Humanitarian Law governing armed conflict, specifically the Geneva Conventions for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and the Sick in the Armed Forces in the Field, and the Additional Protocol relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Conflicts as well as the GRP (now GPH)-NDFP Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in the conduct of their military actions.

They must be prevented, in the instant case, from engaging in any act of reprisal against the three NPA hors de combat who, owing to their current medical condition, no longer take active part in hostilities.  Any move taken by the 10th ID that would be inimical to the rights and condition of the NPA wounded personnel, their families and other civilian entities would constitute a serious breach of IHL and CAR-HR-IHL, and as such, would only further expose their fascist ruthlessness.

(SGD.) RIGOBERTO F. SANCHEZ
Spokesperson
Merardo Arce Command
Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command
New People's Army

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