Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo (left), Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson, and Defense Spokesperon Arsenio Andolong (PNA File photo)
MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Wednesday said the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) is complicit in the planning and directing the unprovoked anti-personnel mine (APM) attack that killed footballer Keith Absalon and his cousin Nolven in Masbate City last June 6.
"In their attempt to appease the families of the victims, the Communist Terrorist Group (CTG) through a 'spokesperson' issued an apology to the family of the victims. They expressed willingness to indemnify the families for their losses," AFP spokesperson, Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo, said in a statement.
Arevalo added that this apology "remains to be seen" referring to the CPP-NPA statement on Tuesday owning up the conduct of the APM attack that also wounded Absalon's 16-year old nephew, Chrisbin Daniel.
He said the communist terrorists committed similar crimes in the past and admitted to having perpetrated these dastardly acts.
"But they have not done anything since to compensate the victims but empty promises or claims of indemnification. If they did not perform any acts to indemnify their victims in the past, how may we expect them to recompense for their crime this time? And if they will make amends this time, why not pay for their past transgressions as well?" he added.
The military, he said, continues to sound the alarm over the stockpiling of APMs and their rampant use by these communist terrorists.
"Here and elsewhere in the world, this practice of using APMs has long been banned under International Humanitarian Law. The AFP yielded, but not this terrorist group," Arevalo said.
He added that they already reported to the United Nations and local bodies the 141 incidents of production, stockpiling, transporting, and use of APMs by these terrorists in the past decade.
"We will be unrelenting in the pursuit of justice for the 224 casualties, including 29 civilians, five of whom were killed," Arevalo said.
What 'tactical error'?
Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense (DND) dismissed claims made by the CPP-NPA that the incident is just a "tactical error" on their part.
"This tragedy is not caused by a mere 'tactical error' as they claim. The use of these anti-personnel mines that killed the Absalon cousins is actually a matter of procedure for these terrorists who are bent on inflicting death and damage to lives and property. The CPP-NPA's persistent use of landmines is a clear violation of International Humanitarian Law. It is also undeniable proof of the CTG’s utter disregard for the safety of innocent civilians," DND spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said in a statement.
Andolong said the DND strongly condemns the violence and senseless killing of the Absalons through the communist terrorists' indiscriminate use of APMs.
"It is abhorrent that after taking responsibility for the deaths of Keith and Nolven Absalon, the CPP-NPA has the gall to pretend that they will conduct their own internal investigation, which, in reality, will never result in any kind of justice for the bereaved families," he said.
He added that the arrogance of the CPP-NPA further compounds their crimes against the Filipino people and they must be made to answer for these acts.
"In all the decades of the CTG's existence, the deaths of the Absalon cousins are, unfortunately, just two cases in the long list of crimes committed by the CPP-NPA. We, therefore, call on the Filipino people to unite and condemn the atrocities, and reject the flawed ideology touted by this communist terrorist group," he added.
The use of APMs is a violation of the International Humanitarian Law and the 1997 Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention adopted by the international community, prohibiting the acquisition, production, stockpiling, and use of weapons.
The CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)