Armed Forces of the Philippines distorting international rules of warfare regarding landmines

By Information Bureau
Communist Party of the Philippines

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is distorting international rules of warfare with its persistent claims that the use of command-detonated land mines by the New People's Army (NPA) is prohibited under international humanitarian law and conventions on warfare.

Through its Information Bureau, the CPP clarified that command-detonated land mines are legitimate offensive and defensive weapons employed by the NPA in the course of the people’s war against the armed forces of the oppressive reactionary state.

In a statement yesterday, Army spokesman Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr. claimed that the NPA has consistently violated the Global Ban on Landmines, the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), and the Geneva Conventions "by continually using land mines."

"The Army spokesperson must be castigated for propagating a distorted interpretation of international humanitarian law," said the CPP, pointing out that the Ottawa Treaty's "Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and on their Destruction" only prohibits the use of anti-personnel mines, particularly self-acting mines that are "designed to be exploded by the mere presence, proximity or contact of a person."

The CPP reiterated its unequivocal support of the Ottawa Treaty and its ban on the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of self-acting anti-personnel mines, and said further that the NPA does use this kind of mines. The CPP pointed out that "command-detonated land mines, including remote-controlled anti-vehicle mines, which are the ones responsibly used by the NPA against enemy forces, are not covered by the ban, and are in fact considered legitimate weapons even by the Philippine Campaign to Ban Land Mines (PCBL)."

"The Armed Forces of of the Philippines sheds crocodile tears in berating the NPA even for its use of legitimate weapons. In fact, it is the AFP that uses weapons of large-scale destruction that are indiscriminately unleashed against civilian communities and is thus guilty of grievous crimes against humanity," said the CPP. The CPP cited the bombing by AFP MG-520 helicopters last February 6 of upland communities in Tulunan, North Cotabato and Magsaysay, Davao del Sur, which forced around 300 B'laan families to flee their homes.

"Anti-personnel mines have never been the main cause of casualties among civilians and non-combatants, but rather the indiscriminate firing by ground troops and tanks, aerial and artillery bombardments, cruel and inhuman population control, base denial and large-scale search-and-destroy operations such as food blockades, burning and looting of houses and farms, forced mass evacuations, torture and other forms of terrorism that the AFP inflicts upon the people wherever they launch military operations."