Comrades arrested in Tagum City must be accorded rights as hors de combat
The Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army in Southern Mindanao demands that the three comrades arrested on March 9 by combined forces of the 1001st Infantry Brigade and CIDG Region 11 in Tagum City must be treated as and accorded with the rights of hors de combat, in accordance with the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and international conventions of war.
Victor “Ka Pong” Rollon, Christine Joy “Ka Rye” Dula and Chargelyn “Ka Jillian” Casquejo were all non-combatants when enemy troops swooped in and seized them in a community in Brgy. La Filipina in Tagum City.
Ka Pong is elderly and suffering from various ailments due to his advanced age. Ka Jillian, a medic, was attending to Ka Pong and conducting mass work and information drive on health and production among the peasant masses in the area with the help of Ka Rye. It is despicable for the enemy’s arresting elements to plant firearms, explosives and ammunitions in order to justify and lend credence to their arrest of the comrades.
The three comrades must immediately be given medical attention, especially Ka Pong, and afforded legal representation of their choice. They must likewise be allowed visitation by their families and relatives or confer with human rights advocacy groups to ensure that their rights and welfare are not being violated.
The enemy’s common cruel treatment of captured or surrendered comrades is a far cry from the kind of humane treatment that the NPA promptly extends to its prisoners of war. While Red fighters provide the most considerate treatment of POWs under guerilla conditions, captured or surrendered comrades by enemy troops are more often than not subjected to torture, ruthlessly interrogated, held incommunicado or disappeared or even summarily killed.
Despite the fascist Duterte regime’s bullheaded predilection to bulldoze decades of achievement in the peace process between the GRP and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the reactionary government is still bound by CARHRIHL and international rules of engagement, especially regarding hors de combat. Meanwhile, in insisting to treat the three comrades as common criminals, the AFP is all the more unmasking itself not only as a fascist armed force but a cowardly and dishonorable band of thugs as well.
The arrest of Ka Pong, Ka Jillian and Ka Rye further demonstrates how vicious and deeply isolated from the masses Duterte and the AFP’s counterinsurgency rampage has become. To affect the veneer of strength, the AFP has never scrupled to include unarmed elderly and women comrades, even civilian activists, in its warpath.