CHR denounces NPA's use of landmines

LANDMINE: Shrapnel from a landmine hit the ambulance of the PDRRMC Davao Del Sur. Photo from the Armed Forces of the Philippines

LANDMINE: Shrapnel from a landmine hit the ambulance of the PDRRMC Davao Del Sur.

Photo from the Armed Forces of the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) denounced the use of landmines by the New People's Army (NPA) and called on the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to stop using them. 

"I call on the NPA to stand for the agreements set forth in the landmine accord and cease to persist with the impunity of landmine use," said CHR chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales on Tuesday, March 4, in a statement. The incident in Davao Del Sur is the latest in a series of landmine explosions that the military blamed on the NPA.

Eleven soldiers and 5 civilians were hurt in 2 separate landmine explosions on Sunday, March 2. The first landmine exploded during a firefight between troops of the 39th Infantry Battalion and members of the New People's Army (NPA) in Sitio Don Carlos, Barangay Managa. (READ: 16 hurt in clashes in Davao del Sur)

The second blew up when 3 ambulances of the Red Cross, military, and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council passed through the town. 

"The incident is a violation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), signed by the government and the communist insurgents in 1998 that bans the use of landmines," Rosales added. 

"These anti-vehicle and anti-personnel mines do not differentiate between civilians and soldiers, and may claim lives of farmers, their wives and their innocent children. Landmine use is an infringement against the right to life as landmine devices remain lethal for decades once laid," Rosales added.

Rosales instructed the CHR's office in Davao to investigate.

The guerrillas have defended the use of landmines, saying they are a poor man's weapon. (READ: Landmines: A poor man's weapon?)

The CPP, which has been waging guerilla warfare for 4 decades now, announced last year it is junking the peace talks with the Philippine government. President Benigno Aquino III is not giving up, however. He sought in January 2014 Norway's help in reviving the failed talks with communist guerrillas. It has been nearly a year since the peace talks hosted by Oslo fell apart. – Carmela Fonbuena/Rappler.com