Comment on reports of NPA ambush in Northern Samar
We are still awaiting details from the local unit, but judging by a report released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), fighters of the New People’s Army (NPA) in Northern Samar successfully mounted an ambush against a unit of the 20th IB in Barangay Magsaysay, Mapanas town early this morning. The enemy troops suffered a number of casualties.
Certainly, the people are celebrating this victory against the troops of the 20th Infantry Battalion which is notorious for abuses and gross violations of human rights. Recall that last February 8, operating troops of the 20th IB killed two children in Barangay San Jose, Catubig, Northern Samar. They are also responsible for hamletting rural villages, aerial bombing and strafing, food blockades, preventing farmers from tending to their fields, abductions and interrogations of civilians, extrajudicial killings and other abuses.
The successful NPA tactical offensive is testament to the continuing deep support of the masses, and reveals the hollow claims of the AFP of having weakened the NPA in Eastern Visayas and elsewhere. The NPA continues to enjoy the deep and wide support of the peasant masses in the countryside.
The AFP’s condemnation of the NPA’s use of command-detonated explosives only aims to take away the significance of the NPA victory and draw attention away from their losses. The AFP’s claims that the use of NPA explosives violate international humanitarian law do not have legal legs to stand on.
Based on the report of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) itself, the explosive used by the NPA in Mapanas, Northern Samar, was detonated and clearly targeted against soldiers conducting combat operations. The soldiers were armed, scouring the area and ready to engage in battle.
As we have previously clarified, the command-detonated explosives used by the NPA are not covered by the Ottawa Treaty banning anti-personnel land mines which are “designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person and that will incapacitate, injure or kill one or more persons.” Clearly, the NPA detonated the explosive with a clear military target, and did not cause injuries to civilians.
Even Canada, where the treaty was forged, does not ban its C19 Command-Detonated Defensive Weapon because it “is not equipped with a trip wire but is detonated by a soldier – in other words, it is not victim-activated.” Similarly, the NPA’s CDX are not equipped with a trip wire or any other form of detonating mechanism that can be triggered by a victim.