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The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) came out with a recent statement over the death of two civilians during a firefight in La Castellana, Negros Occidental:
The CPP fully acknowledges the self-criticism of the Central Negros Front Operations Command (Leonardo Panaligan Command) of the New People’s Army and its decision to indemnify the family of the civilians who were caught in the crossfire that broke out last January 27 at Barrio Puso, La Castellana, Negros Occidental.
Concerned parties who were aggrieved in the course of the La Castellana incident can seek redress under the Rules of the NPA, the policies of the Democratic People’s Government and provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
It is an outstanding policy of the NPA to give prime consideration to the welfare and safety of civilians at all times. Such a policy compel the NPA to suspend or call-off an ambush or some other armed action in the face of even the slightest possibility that a civilian might get hurt.
In the face of the vagaries of war, it is praiseworthy for the NPA-LPC to acknowledge and make amends for its shortcomings. By acknowledging its shortcomings, the NPA-LPC can continue to strengthen its unity with the people. Such self-criticism and rectification is the mark of a true army of the people. It is an assurance that the NPA will work hard to prevent such errors in the future.
At the same time, the CPP denounces the Aquino regime and the AFP for its policy of endangerment and targeting of civilians in the course of its Oplan Bayanihan war of suppression . The NPA should work doubly hard to defend the lives and welfare of the people in the face of the determined effort of the Aquino regime to oppose the growth of the people’s war.
Julius D. Mariveles for InterAksyon reported:
“It was supposed to be a disarming operation,” the command’s spokesman, JB Regalado, said in an Ilonggo tape-recorded statement sent to media outlets here.
The NPA spokesman said the rebels were able to confiscate seven firearms, among them two M16 assault rifles with serial numbers 181540 and 183397, a submachine gun with serial number 45N3, an M2 Carbine with serial number 690874, a shotgun, a 45 caliber pistol, and a .357 revolver. They were also able to retrieve night vision goggles, magazines, and ammunitions.
More firearms were not recovered because it was dark at the time, Regalado said.
The NPA official also said the rebels started firing only after they heard shots from the truck in response to the warning shot fired by an NPA guerrilla.
“We are sorry for the deaths of Virginia Ordoñez and Ricky Dingcong and the wounding of a 14-year-old teenager,” Regalado added as he assured the families of the victims that there the NPA will conduct its own investigation and punish the fighters and commanders responsible for the deaths. He said the process will follow the provisions of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law.
CARHR-IHL is a landmark agreement signed between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, representing the NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines, as a result of peace negotiations on the first substantive agenda, respect for human rights and the IHL.
Regalado said the rebels will talk to the families of the civilian victims and indemnify them even as he scored Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon, Jr and acting provincial police chief, Senior Supt. Celestino Guara.
“To call it a massacre is ‘non-rational’ and illogical,” he said, referring to Guara’s statement.
Regalado added that the NPA rebels are not drug addicts, describing Marañon’s declaration as “not responsible and lacks thought.”
But were the members of the Barangay Peacekeeping Action Team really armed?
Officials are unsure about it.
Guara told InterAksyon.com that while he might be sure that the policemen – Canja and PO3 Constantino Villegas and PO2 Jeffrey Alvarez – were armed, it has not been established in the police investigation that the BPAT members were also carrying firearms.
It also pointed out that the BPAT is also “…in response to the CPP-NPA Barangay Module being implemented by left-leaning groups in their community campaigns; their activities are characterized by deception as they profess noble intentions but actually seek to destroy the democratic institutions of our country.”
Regalado said in the same statement that they have received reports that some members of the BPAT are also being used to spy on the CPP-NPA operating in the two villages.
[A] woman, who asked not to be named, is an aunt of Canja who added that these BPAT members “strutted about” after they were allowed to carry guns.