MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has condemned the New People’s Army (NPA) attack on a police unit in Labo, Camarines Norte, stressing that no amount of ideology cannot justify atrocities and killings.
According to CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, their regional office in Bicol Region is already conducting an investigation on the incident, which left five police officers dead and two other officers injured.
Reports over the weekend showed that the Labo police’s 2nd Police Mobile Force Company was on patrol duty last Friday when the NPA rebels ambushed the group. NPA and the Communist Party of the Philippines have confirmed the attack in an e-mail message to reporters on Sunday.
“[CHR] strongly denounces the killing of five (5) police officers by alleged members of the [NPA] in Labo, Camarines Norte. The right to life is inviolable; no ideology can justify any atrocity and disproportionate attack by any armed group,” De Guia stressed.
“We express our deepest condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of the victims. CHR Region V is already conducting a probe to ensure justice for the fallen cops. We also call on all concerned agencies to work together to ensure that perpetrators are held to account and to prevent further hostilities on the ground,” she added.
In a statement on Saturday, acting Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar gave the green light to pursue the NPA rebels behind the attack. He also visited the kin of the slain officers as well as the wounded policemen while stressing that the police should pursue stronger community relations to end the communist insurgency.
But aside from the killing of five police officers from Labo, CHR also called out the NPA for allegedly recruiting and using teenage soldiers in their offensives, which goes against international humanitarian law.
De Guia said that CHR’s Regional Office in Western Visayas is already probing the incident.
“In a similar vein, we strongly condemn the alleged use of teenage soldiers in Iloilo by the NPA. This necessitates immediate probe from concerned authorities as our CHR-Region VI also simultaneously conducts investigation,” De Guia said.
“Amid the pandemic that compounds the vulnerability of conflict-ridden communities, we reiterate the importance of pursuing peaceful and lawful ways to tackle long-standing issues for healing and recovery to take place. #ItigilAngPatayan,” she added.
Last January 2021, former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay said that several students, including those from the University of the Philippines, have been killed in skirmishes after they were recruited by NPA rebels.
The government has been at loggerheads with the communist movement since peace talks fell between the two groups. Ironically, hopes were high that the decades-long communist insurgency would end under President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration, considering his former ties with CPP leaders.
However, the talks fell through after both sides claimed that offensives continued despite a ceasefire order, effectively ended discussions.
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