“Mines designed to be detonated by the presence, proximity or contact of a vehicle as opposed to a person, that are equipped with anti-handling devices, are not considered anti-personnel mines as a result of being so equipped.”
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA – Reacting to President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent warning, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) maintained it’s better to continue with the formal talks scheduled from Aug. 20 to Aug. 27 in Oslo, Norway.
On Aug. 7, Duterte warned the New People’s Army to stop using land mines or else, there would be no peace talks.
Five soldiers were killed when NPA guerrillas ambushed a company of the 25th Infantry Battalion in sitio Inuburan, barangay Rizal, Monkayo, Compostela Valley.
In a statement, Luis Jalandoni, NDFP peace panel chairperson, pointed out that “the use of command-detonated land mines is not a violation of the Geneva Convention and the Ottawa Treaty.”
In its policy regarding land mines, the NDFP states that the present internationally accepted definition of “anti-personnel land mines” does not cover command-detonated land mines that the NPA employs as legitimate offensive weapons against military vehicles of the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) transporting troops and supplies across and within AFP-NPA battlefields.
According to the International Committee of the Red Cross, anti-personnel mines are inherently incapable of distinguishing civilians from soldiers.
The NDFP said “mines designed to be detonated by the presence, proximity or contact of a vehicle as opposed to a person, that are equipped with anti-handling devices, are not considered anti-personnel mines as a result of being so equipped.”
Jalandoni said the NPA can use these weapons in its military operations inasmuch as there is yet no ceasefire of any kind which is valid and effective between the NPA and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
The NDFP chief negotiator said the resumption of formal talks is necessary to allow both negotiating panels to take up the mode of ceasefire, as stated in the Joint Statement signed in Oslo on June 15, 2016.
Both parties signed the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRHRIHL), the first substantive agenda in the GRP-NDFP peace talks in accordance with the Hague Joint Declaration. The Joint Monitoring Committee mandated to oversee the implementation of CARHRIHL, however, has not been convened since the time of President Gloria Arroyo.