The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Tuesday dismissed the claims of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) that the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) does not have any jurisdiction over them and that it cannot act on the submitted reports on destructive incidents committed by the communist terrorist group against civilians.
In a statement, AFP Human Rights Office (HRO) chief, Col. Joel Alejandro Nacnac, also belied the CPP’s claim that they have remunerated victims of atrocities by the NPA.
“What they are perceiving are far from reality. The victims of their destructive armed struggle decry for justice,” he added.
The AFP earlier submitted to the CHR a report on 532 incidents of the communist terrorist group’s attacks on civilians and their properties since 2010 and sought for an investigation on these incidents.
Pursuant to Republic Act (RA) 9851, the CHR is one of the national agencies in the Philippines tasked to investigate violations of international humanitarian law, genocide, and other crimes against humanity.
“Owners of property destroyed by the NPA do not know where to file complaint for they are not aware of RA9851 and the CHR’s role in assisting them as victims of IHL (International Humanitarian Law) violations. But this time, victims will be assisted because we already submitted the cases to the CHR. Hindi dapat pangunahan ng CPP ang gagawing imbestigasyon ng (The CPP should not preempt the investigation by the) CHR. Tinatakot ba nila ang CHR (Are they threatening the CHR?),” Nacnac said.
On Feb. 12, 20218, the CHR passed a resolution adopting the policy guidelines on its role in the advocacy for the observance of IHL and in the investigation and monitoring of violations of IHL, genocide, and other crimes against humanity under RA 9851.
It is exemplified in the said resolution that the CHR vests authority on and task all of its regional directors, special investigators, and lawyers nationwide to timely investigate motu proprio or upon complaint, any and all violations under RA 9851.
It shall likewise on its own, or upon recommendation by the Protection Officer or Regional Office, conduct a public inquiry on IHL violations.
The CHR regional office concerned shall coordinate with appropriate government offices and/or agencies, like the AFP, to ensure timely, comprehensive, and unhampered investigations of IHL cases.
“Section 18, paragraph 2 and 3 of RA 9851 specifically provides that the Supreme Court shall designate special courts to try cases involving crimes punishable under the said Act. The CHR, DOJ (Department of Justice), and the PNP (Philippine National Police) and other concerned agencies shall designate investigators or prosecutors to investigate or prosecute IHL violations of either government forces or armed groups like the CPP-NPA-NDF,” Nacnac added.
The CPP earlier claimed that it is better for the AFP to file complaints to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) section of the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC), which is tasked to monitor violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) between the Philippine government and the NDFP.
“They should be made aware that CARHRIHL is a mere agreement that is no longer in existence and the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) has long been dissolved. The JMC cannot replace the role of the CHR,” Nacnac said.
Nacnac added that even if the NDFP’s JMC acted upon complaints before it, it cannot issue a decision that can be legally implemented in the country because the JMC is not a duly constituted trial court and the CARHRIHL is already inoperative.
In Proclamation 360 issued in November 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte formally terminated the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the CPP-NPA-NDF.
“They also pointed out that the NPA at times is ordered to seize and optionally paralyze or disable the property of some enterprises that violate the laws of the CPP-NPA-NDF’s Philippine Democratic Government (PDG). With this statement, they admitted that members of the NPA were indeed ordered to destroy civilian-owned properties to advance their armed struggle,” Nacnac added.
He said the AFP remains committed to the rule of law and steadfast in upholding its constitutional duty to protect the people against all forms of threats, and let lasting peace and security prevail.
“We also appreciate the Article published by Ted Cordero of GMA News Online on January 9, 2021. The article actually exposes the ills and lies of the (CPP-NPA-NDF) and it is good that the public may know about these destructive activities of the CPP-NPA-NDF,” Nacnac said.
Report on NPA attacks submitted to UN
In a separate statement, the AFP said it has already submitted the same report to the United Nations.
AFP chief-of-staff, Gen. Gilbert Gapay said the report was submitted to Signe Poulsen, the representative to the Philippines of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Gustavo Gonzales, UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in the Philippines.
He added that copies of the report were also sent to Undersecretary Severo Catura, Executive Director of Presidential Human Rights Committee, and Assistant Secretary Noralyn Jubaira-Baja, Office of the United Nations and International Organizations, Department of Foreign Affairs.
The figures are expected to rise as AFP units continue their inquiry and tender reports on the activities of non-state armed groups.
Nacnac earlier stated that the communist terror group’s acts of destroying civilian properties are indications of a nationwide pattern of organized, continuing, and systematic scheme aimed at terrorizing communities and generating funds.
“To come up with a comprehensive statistical analysis which may lead to the filing of appropriate charges of IHL violations, our Office orchestrated the collection of data from lower AFP units and offices regarding the destruction of civilian-owned property by the (CPP-NPA-NDF). These unlawful activities constitute violation of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law as well as local laws such as RA 9851,” he said.
As part of its mandate, the AFPHRO continues to monitor Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law violations by non-state armed groups such as the CPP-NPA-NDF.
Its rebellion is the longest ongoing armed conflict in the Philippines with its armed components committing violent activities through the use of guerilla tactics for more than five decades now.
Gapay, meanwhile, applauded the efforts of the HRO for continuously exposing and elevating this problem to the attention of international human rights bodies.
“This is aimed at informing international human rights bodies of the (communist terrorist group’s) persistent disregard of human rights and international humanitarian law by destroying civilian properties With this report, we hope to expose the violence perpetrated by the CTG. The AFP, through its Human Rights Office, will continuously coordinate with the appropriate agencies in this whole-of-nation approach towards just and lasting peace,” Gapay said.
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.
Source: Philippines News agency