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CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - The Philippine Army's Fourth Infantry “Diamond” Division (4ID) based here slammed the move of the National Democratic Front-Southern Mindanao Region (NDF-SMR) to indemnify the victims of the grenade blast in Paquibato District, Davao City, saying the dissidents do not have “belligerency status” to do so. The rebels should just surrender the victims, the Army said.
In a phone interview, Saturday, 4ID spokesperson Ltc. Eugenio Julio Osias IV said the rebel group should instead surrender the combatants responsible for the incident, or “at least inform the general public what punitive actions they have imposed against their member.”
“They do not have belligerency status. Even the US (United States of America) and EU (European Union) have declared them as (an) international terrorist organization. We are just negotiating with the NDF,” said Osias.
After claiming responsibility over the grenade blast in Barangay Fatima, Paquibato District, Davao City last September 1, the NDF-SMR—in an emailed statement on Friday—ordered the indemnification of the 41 victims, who were watching a circus show in a covered court when the grenade exploded.
In NDF-SMR's list, 14 of the 41 victims were minors with a two-year old girl as the youngest victim. According to Rubi del Mundo, spokesperson of NDF-SMR, the indemnification order is based on a directive from the NDF-SMR.
“The directive is a unilateral exercise of revolutionary political authority by a government of the working class and peasantry that has its own legal and judicial system and rules in accordance with its political principles and circumstances,” the statement read.
According to del Mundo the indemnification order is in compliance, among others, with the NDF's Declaration of Undertaking to Apply Geneva Conventions of 1949 and Protocol I of 1977 “which asserts its status as co-belligerent under international law and assumes its rights and responsibilities under the Geneva Conventions and its protocols.”
“Notwithstanding the Declaration, the revolutionary forces and people represented by the NDF have acquired over the years the status of belligerency through revolutionary armed struggle. The declaration itself commits the revolutionary forces to the observance of laws of war, from the level of adherence to Protocol II in 1991 to the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I,” said del Mundo.
He added that they have talked with professionals and peace advocates to serve as Third Party Facilitators for the expedient payment to the victims. He said the Third Party Facilitators will award the indemnification to the following victims:
1. Necio Cerundo, 21, male
2. Amalou Cabandia, 13, female
3. Marcelo Babor, 52, male
4. Nelojean Roxas, 11, female
5. Jelson Bacordo, 22, male
6. Lemuel Uzon, 15, male
7. Elizer Sumod Ong, 29, male
8. Jessie Solla, 49, male
9. Candida Sambalod, 53, female
10. Jayson Amaralinto, 15, male
11. Rubilyn Abayto, 34, female
12. Michael Tinaja, 15, male
13. John Mark Moquinto, 15, male
14. Rolando Abatayo, 32, male
15. Randy Loyola, 35, male
16. Rio Brigole, 24, male
17. Marvin Polinar, 20, male
18. Jeresa Malinao, 19, female
19. Primitiva Dadula, 65, female
20. Lindo Linda, 18, male
21. Louie John Ballena, 14, male
22. Noe Pulbera, 52, male
23. Dario Segundo, 33, male
24. Rolando Roperos,47, male
25. Gerald Zamora, 18, male
26. Juris Bontoyan, 2, female
27. Devine Grace Valejo, 16, female
28. John Miguel Lucian, 23, male
29. Genelyn Cambirahan, 31, female
30. Charmaine Lansang, 13, female
31. Marjorie Escultor, 34, female
32. Ruthchelle Bontoyan,39, female
33. Rudith Montajes, 20, female
34. Gemar Bacordo, 24, male
35. Regine Lansang, 17, female
36. Rolando Palban, 18, male
37. Marvin Sumod Ong, 53, male
38. Samson Tandoy, 18, male
39. Helena Turado, 54, female
40. Mikael Cambarehan, 4, male
41, Gerald Lariosa, 16, male
Davao City Vice Mayor Rodrigo Duterte has even called the perpetrators “bobo” (idiots) in live TV interviews.
“Indemnifying the victims and their families is not enough. They should surrender the perpetrators to our justice system if they are really sincere in what they are doing. If they will not do this then they can do the same thing in the future and get away from their criminal liabilities, again and again,” Osias said.
The 4ID spokesperson also wondered if the Maoist rebels are really serious in adhering to the Comprehensive Agreement for the Respect of Human Rights and the International Humanitarial Law (CARHRIHL). It is an agreement signed by both the NDF and the Philippine Government on March 16, 1998 at The Hague, The Netherlands.
“If they are really observing the CARHRIHL, so why do they attack civilians, even destroy equipment and other properties that are not used in combat? They keep on blabbering about respect for Human Rights but they continuously violate its provisions. Most importantly, NPAs should spare civilians from any of their criminal activities and atrocities,” said Osias.