NPA must surrender Davao blast suspects, says peace talks monitoring team

September 28, 2012 10:21 pm 

MANILA, Sept. 28 — The government committee tasked to monitor the peace negotiations with communist guerrillas has denounced the refusal of the New People’s Army (NPA) to surrender the suspects behind the grenade attack in Paquibato District, Davao City that injured 47 persons, mostly children.

In a statement, the Government of the Philippines Monitoring Committee (GPH-MC) said true and impartial justice demands that the NPA must surrender and subject the perpetuators of the Sept. 1 grenade attack to the Philippine justice system.

The statement said the NPA’s admission that the attack was a mistake and its subsequent payment of P5,000 to each of the 47 victims “would not be sufficient to give the victims, many of whom were children, true justice.”

The GPH-MC statement echoed an earlier statement of lawyer Alex Padilla, chairman of the government peace panel dealing with the communist rebels, who decried the indemnification offer and said it was a mere “stopgap and diversionary measure.”

“The NPA has long maintained that its forces are well-versed in Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (HR-IHL),” the GPH-MC statement said. “In signing the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws (CARHRIHL) through its political entity the National Democratic Front (NDF), the NPA has in effect held itself accountable to these standards.”

“If it were truly a champion of human rights and international humanitarian law, the NPA would readily surrender [the rebel] perpetrators of the Paquibato bombing and their other HR-IHL crimes to the Philippine justice system, which, however imperfect, remains a far better legal remedy to HR-IHL stakeholders and to the public than the ‘justice system’ of the NPA,” the statement added.

The NPA had earlier said they would deal with the matter in their own justice system, which, the GPH-MC said, “has never been transparent—open to the public, the media, nor the government.”

Responding to the rebel group’s statement denouncing the government’s system of justice and accountability, the GPH-MC said “The NPA’s refusal to submit themselves to the Philippine justice system, does not change the fact that the group is not above international HR and IHL principles and laws, which they and their legal entity, the NDF, continually invoke when they allege violations” by the government’s security forces.

The GPH-MC is the counterpart of the National Democratic Front-Monitoring Committee. Both committees form the Joint Monitoring Committee, an entity that oversees and ensures compliance to CARHRIHL.

Padilla said the “reckless action raised by the NPA is simply not acceptable and such uncivilized and irresponsible act is a grave violation of human rights and will not lead to any meaningful resolution” to issues being raised by the Communist rebels.

“If the group sincerely wants to put a solution to the country’s problems, the rightful way would be to go back to the negotiating table with the government and exhaust ways on how to work together in reaching just and lasting peace,” Padilla said.

Last September 1, the NPA’s Merardo Arce Command of Southern Mindanao admitted its operatives threw a grenade at a fiesta gathering in the Paquibato District in Davao City.

In a statement to media, the NPA claimed the grenade was intended for a nearby military detachment but was mistakenly lobbed into a civilian crowd gathered for a circus performance. Forty-seven civilians, many of them children, were gravely injured in the explosion. (PNA)



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