MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte urged the New People’s Army (NPA) to stop the use of landmines in attacking government military forces, else the peace talks with the left movement is cancelled.
“Either you stop it or we stop talking. Let’s fight [for] another 45 years,” Duterte said in his speech on Saturday, August 6 when he visited the wake of the fallen soldiers who died in clashes with the left’s armed wing.
The President pointed out in his speech that the use of landmines is prohibited under the Geneva Convention.
“Ibinabawal po ‘yung landmine (Landmines are prohibited). I cannot understand for the life of me that if it is to your advantage, you invoke the Geneva Convention provisions,” he said, pressing that it cannot be a different rule for the rebels and the military.
“I am now invoking the Geneva Conventions. It is part of the international law not only of the Philippines but around the world,” he added.
The 1980 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva specified the use of landmines, booby traps, incendiary weapons and blinding laser weapons, among others, as “excessively injurious” or “to have indiscriminate effects.”
Humanitarian law, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross, also prohibits land mines as it seeks “to reduce the suffering caused by armed conflict to the minimum necessary for the achievement of legitimate military objectives.”
Better use of budget
Duterte challenged the NPA to stop the practice now or he will direct the peace talk panel to come home and save money that will instead be provided to the military.
“The Defense department is asking for [20,000 more] troops. I am looking at the budget, We have no money. But if that’s what you want, I’ll give that to the Defense department,” said the President in a mix of English and Filipino.
He also said that he will sacrifice providing assistance for the hungry and the poor so that the government can fund the needs of its forces because the country is at war.
“I am not pleading this time. That’s an ultimatum. [If I] hear another explosion killing people – not only soldiers – killing people, no talks, pasensiya na (I’m sorry),” Duterte strongly said.
Duterte earlier declared a unilateral ceasefire with the Left movement during his first State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 25. But he lifted it days after when his deadline for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to declare their own ceasefire last July 30 lapsed.
The President issued the deadline following the NPA’s attack on government paramilitary forces in Davao del Norte. – Rappler.com