DAVAO CITY, Philippines– The New People’s Army (NPA) would not surrender its fighters involved in the Sept. 1 grenade explosion in Paquibato district here that left at least 48 people wounded.
In an earlier statement, Rigoberto Sanchez, spokesman of the NPA’s Merardo Arce Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command, admitted the rebel movement committed a mistake and apologized for the incident, saying the NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command was responsible for the explosion.
Police are bent on filing frustrated murder charges against NPA leader Leoncio Pitao, or Kumander Parago, his son Ryan and several others for the blast in Barangay Fatima, Paquibato district.
Pitao heads the NPA unit operating in the Paquibato district and its environs.
However, Sanchez yesterday turned down the military’s demand that Pitao and the other rebel suspects be turned over to authorities to answer for their crime.
“Such an idiotic proposal is to deny the existence of the NPA, an armed force governed by a political authority and guided by strict rules of conduct and discipline,” Sanchez said in a statement.
“For, indeed, the People’s Democratic Government exercises its own justice system and dispenses revolutionary justice in determining the consequences of the 1st Pulang Bagani Company’s action,” he added.
Sanchez said the Merardo Arce Command has made it known that it would carry out comprehensive measures and rectify errors committed in the Paquibato grenade blast.
He said the NPA command is in the process of reaching out and making amends to the victims of the blast.
“It is also in the process of re-educating and reviewing the International Humanitarian Law guidelines for its combatants and commanders to avoid any repetition in the future,” he said.
“It draws valuable lessons to reaffirm and validate the correct policies and processes governing its military operations and implementation of the Geneva Conventions and other war protocols,” he added.
Sanchez said the Paquibato incident was a display of serious but isolated human error compared to the military’s human rights track record that “is a daily occurrence and hallmark of its mercenary character.”
“The NPA and the revolutionary movement is zealous in holding its forces liable should these violate the rules of war; it makes public an apology and self-criticism,” he said.
“In contrast, nothing of the sort or even approximating the earnestness made by the NPA has ever been made by the Philippine government, much less its armed force toward the victims of state-sponsored killings and other brutalities,” he said.
Besides, Sanchez added the military should also do what it wants the NPA to do by surrendering former Gen. Jovito Palparan and other suspects in allegedly state-sponsored atrocities. - By Edith Regalado