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Duterte warns NPA vs using landmines

By ANTONIO COLINA

President Duterte pays his respects to one of the four slain soldiers at the wake inside the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City yesterday.  (Keith Bacongco)

President Duterte pays his respects to one of the four slain soldiers at the wake inside the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City yesterday. (Keith Bacongco)

DAVAO CITY – President Duterte has threatened to pull out of the incoming peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF) if the New People’s Army (NPA) continues to use landmines against government soldiers.

“I would insist you include the landmine issues, or else no (peace) talks at all. Then we fight for another 45 years,” said Duterte who visited the wake of four slain soldiers at the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) early Saturday.

“If I hear another explosion, killing people – not only soldiers – killing people. No talks pasensya na. Hindi naman nauubosan ng pera ang gobyerno, hindi naman talaga ninyo kaya tumbahin,” he said.

Duterte said that the use of land mines is prohibited under the Geneva Conventions of 1949, which provides “minimum protections, standards of humane treatment, an fundamental guarantees of respect to individuals who become victims of armed conflicts.”

Duterte said he was never remiss in reminding the rebel forces that the international law does not allow the use of these explosives even when he was still mayor of Davao City for 22 years.

He threatened the communists to stop this practice or he will order the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) to also use landmines “for offensive and defensive purposes” for fairness, as he emphasized that it cannot be a different rule for rebel group.

“I cannot understand for the life of me that if it is to your advantage you invoke the Geneva Convention provision, and yet time and again, I’ve been the mayor of this city, sinabi ko sa inyo akala ko ba sumusunod tayo ng Geneva Convention, or would you like that I would also order the Armed Forces na gamitin ninyo ang landmine, pag kayo ang nka-position at in-ambush ninyo, which is which?” he asked.

If the NPA keeps attacking the military using landmines despite his warning, Duterte said he would ask the government peace panel to back out from the formal resumption of the peace negotiation slated on August 20 in Oslo, Norway.

He added that he might just decide to grant the request of Defense Secretary Hermogenes Esperon to hire 20,000 more soldiers to strengthen the AFP’s position.

Last August 1, the soldiers of the 39th Infantry Battalion discovered an improvised explosive device weighting about eight kilograms that was planted along the riverbank in Brgy. Sinoron, Sta. Cruz in Davao del Sur allegedly by NPA members under Guerrilla Front 51 of the Southern Mindanao Regional Committee (SMRC).

Four soldiers were killed while 12 others wounded in a series of attacks on August 4 and 5 in two towns in Compostela Valley province.

According to a military press release, the first incident took place at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in Km. 56, Brgy. Rizal in Monkayo in Comval where two soldiers were wounded.

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