September 10, 2010
The Alejandro Lanaja Command-Front 3 Operations Command of the New People’s Army issued a statement to shed light on “another half-truth” that they said the Armed Forces of the Philippines fed to the media. It was regarding a civilian who was wounded in an encounter between the Front 3 Operations Command-NPA and the joint forces of the 26th Infantry Battalion / Division Reconnaissance Company, on 25 August, at the boundary of Barangay Zion, Sta. Josefa town and Barangay Sampaguita, Veruela town in Agusan del Sur.
According to the NPA, their investigation showed that the wounded civilian, Zosimo Tapia, is a resident of Sitio Tugpan, Barangay Sampaguita, Veruela. The military used Tapia as ‘guide’ along with another civilian, Boy Devosura, in the AFP’s combat-raid operation.
“The 26th IB-AFP used the two civilians as expendable pawns in its attempt to raid NPA fighters; putting them in the line of fire as pointmen in their 25 August combat-raid operation against the NPA,” said Aris Francisco of Alejandro Lanaja Command. The AFP raiding column was reportedly repulsed by the NPA Red fighters. Two enlisted personnel and a paramilitary CAFGU were wounded-in-action in that engagement.
“The AFP has deliberately put civilians like Tapia and Devosura in harm’s way especially in combat operations. The AFP should be made to account for what befell civilian Tapia,” said Francisco.
The NPA described the incident as another proof that the AFP has blatant disregard for civilian welfare. “It has grossly violated human rights and international humanitarian law particularly the following provisions in war protocols:
– Part IV Article 3 of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAR-HR-IHL): allowing the participation of civilian or civilian officials in military field operations and campaigns is and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place; and
– the Geneva Conventions that seek to protect civilians at all times.”
Time and again, the NPA accused the AFP of issuing “misleading statements to wash its hands of any culpability as highlighted in the 25 August incident.”
The AFP has previously accused the NPA also of recruiting minors when in fact, it is
the one recruiting and arming minors for AFP combat operations as
exposed in the July capture of a Cafgu minor in Monkayo, ComVal. The
AFP is also conscripting Lumad minors to its paramilitary Task Force
Gantangan-Bahani Long Range Platoons-Alamara in Paquibato, Davao City.
The NPA slams the AFP’s patent doublespeak related to the 25 August
incident, and strongly condemns the AFP’s standard practice of using
civilians as shields in their operations.