Military denounces renewed communist use of human shields

July 30, 2010 12:05 pm 

MANILA, July 30 – Army authorities condemned the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army's (CPP-NPA) use of human shields in a clash with government forces in Lupi town in Camarines Sur on Thursday afternoon.

First Lt. Michael Castro, platoon leader of the government soldiers which figured in the clash, said that the rebels grabbed two children and took them as hostages in the middle of the firefight.

“Seeing that innocent children were taken hostage by the NPA rebels, I immediately ordered my soldiers to cease firing in order to prevent unnecessary casualties. I can’t simply allow children to become hapless victims in this fighting,” said Castro.

Government forces rescued the five children who were caught in the crossfire when the rebels agreed to lay down their arms and free the hostages.

Mercedes Saporco, 30, mother of the hostages, identified them as Aiza, 16, Arche, 15, Ejigila, 10, Alfie, 3, and a three-month old baby named Totoy.

Castro led a platoon of soldiers which swooped down on a house in Tible village after receiving a "hot info" from a concerned resident about the rebels who asked for food provisions from a neighbor’s house.

The soldiers caught the rebels led by Ka Malik of the CPP-NPA-NDF’s (National Democratic Front) "Kilusang Larangang Gerilya 73", while preparing for their food outside the nipa hut. A 10-minute firefight erupted at around 3:40 p.m. when the rebels started firing despite being directed to raise their arms to surrender.

The brief firefight left one dead rebel and three others captured by government soldiers. Soldiers also confiscated three M16 Assault Rifles and a M14 Assault Rifle along with several rounds of live ammunition from the rebels.

The dead rebel was identified as Sonny Custodio a.k.a. Malik while the three captured rebels as Edwin Saporco, 40, Eduelo Alpore a.k.a. Ka Brix and Allan Llagas a.k.a. Ka Mark.

One unidentified rebel who traded gunshots with the soldiers escaped towards the forested area in the village.

The three captured rebels were turned-over to the police authorities in Lupi town for questioning while an autopsy was also conducted on the dead rebel.

Major General Ruperto Pabustan, Commander of the 9th Infantry Division, condemned the use of human shields by the CPP-NPA.

“The use of human shields is another blatant violation of the human rights provisions by the NPA terrorist rebels. I hope that the human rights groups will be enlightened about this sad reality,” said Pabustan.

Human shielding involves the use of persons protected by international humanitarian law, such as prisoners of war or civilians, to deter attacks on combatants and military objectives.

Pabustan has earlier issued a stern warning to all Army soldiers in the Bicol Region to respect human rights as they perform their various duties. (PNA)

FFC/VR

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