Philippine Army rehashes old issues of discovered camps, arms caches and land mines

Spokesperson, Cordillera People’s Democratic Front

The Cordillera People’s Democratic Front (CPDF) denies the statement of the 5th Infantry Division and the Northern Luzon Command (NOLCOM) of the Philippine Army regarding the alleged capture of a training camp in Kili, Tubo and an arms cache in Buneg, Lacub in Abra.

503rd Infantry Brigade Commander Col. Essel Soriano and 50th Infantry Battalion commanding officer Lt. Col. Rogelio Migote cover up their losses in the battlefield by concocting stories on these so-called victories as well as distortions on the use of anti-personnel mines by the New People's Army. This was parroted by Capt. Adonis Bañez, 501st Infantry Brigade spokesman and propagandist, as well as the NOLCOM in national newspapers and government radio.

In truth, the alleged NPA camp had long been abandoned, as there are no permanent camps for the mobile guerrilla movement at the present stage of the armed struggle. It is not really a surprise if they overrun a lot more alleged camps as there a lot more abandoned temporary camps. The NPA also does not keep extra weapons as there is an increasing number of Red fighters joining the revolution. You can find firearms caches in Maguindanao and other areas where warlords and private armies are coddled and equipped by the Arroyo regime and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

As for the oft-repeated issue of land mines, we quote and reiterate the position put out by the Merardo Arce Command of Southern Mindanao in July 2008 regarding the Mine Ban Convention/Ottawa Treaty, to wit:

“The New People’s Army only uses command-detonated explosives against the intruding forces of the AFP/PNP [Philippine National Police – ed.]. Command-detonated explosives are anti-personnel and anti-tank mines that fundamentally differ from mines that are designed to be exploded by the presence, proximity or contact of a person which are specifically covered by the 1997 Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and Their Destruction. Unlike ‛pressure-detonated’ or ‛victim-detonated’ mines, the command-detonated mines used by the NPA against the AFP/PNP only explode when switched by the detonating officer of an NPA unit upon the order of the commanding officer. Unless detonated upon command, these mines do not explode on the mere application of pressure on the mine or, as described by the Ottawa Treaty, ‛from unintentional or innocent act’. Thus, mere contact of AFP/PNP troops or their combat vehicles will not trigger an explosion…”

The military propagandists expose their ignorance when they charge the NPA of violating “international humanitarian law” with regards the use of improvised explosive devices. On the other hand, it is sheer hypocrisy when the military indiscriminately uses mortars, howitzers, rockets, and bombs during the last two weeks against unseen targets in the provinces of Kalinga, Abra and Mountain Province after the Red fighters successfully outmaneuvered the attacking massive troops of the 5th ID. The command detonated explosives used by the NPA pale in comparison with the bombs, artillery and mortar shells used by the AFP. Why is the AFP mum about the US Armed Forces supplying the AFP with war materials including banned anti-personnel mines?

In fact, it is the US that refused to ratify the Ottawa treaty against anti-personnel land mines (APLM), in opposition to the 158 nation-signatories. According to the Land Mine Monitor Report,

“The United States has not produced antipersonnel mines since 1996, and has a formal cap on its AP mine inventory, but has refused to announce a moratorium or ban and explicitly retains the right to produce at any time in the future…

“The U.S. Department of Defense is seeking to produce a new mine system called RADAM that combines into a single canister existing antipersonnel mines and antitank mines; such a system would be prohibited under the Mine Ban Treaty…

“The United States has antipersonnel landmines stored in at least five nations that are States Parties to the Mine Ban Treaty (Germany, Japan, Norway, Qatar, and United Kingdom at Diego Garcia), as well as treaty signatory Greece. The U.S. has engaged in discussions with these nations in an effort to convince them that it is permissible under the treaty to allow U.S. mines to stay…

“On a related issue, the United States has also discussed with a number of treaty States Parties the permissibility of the U.S. transiting mines through their territory. A debate has emerged over whether the treaty’s prohibition on ‛transfer’ of AP mines also applies to ‛transit’, with some States Parties maintaining that it does not. This would mean that U.S. (or other) aircraft, ships or vehicles carrying antipersonnel mines could pass through (and presumably depart from, refuel in, restock in) a State Party on their way to a conflict in which those mines would be used…”

The US also has some 11 million anti-personal mines stored in arsenals, the fourth largest in the world. As the Balikatan US-RP joint military exercises became a convenient excuse to dispose of their war surpluses, and the Government of the Republic of the Philippines being the 4th largest beneficiary of US military acquisition, it is inevitable that the AFP become a recipient of some of these mines.

The CPDF quotes and reiterates the position of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) regarding land mines:

“Anti-personnel mines covered by the anti-mine ban are not such significant offensive or defensive weapons of NPA units. Command-detonated mines, the type we use, are not covered by the ban. They prove to be valuable in preventing armored intrusions and attacks of enemy forces into NPA territories. Since we have no anti-armor weapons, we have to rely on such if we have to stop armored tanks and vehicles from entering or going through NPA territories. Most of the time, we can do with just the use of rifles and grenades. But these have no effective stopping power against armored tanks and vehicles.

“The defensive needs of threatened peasant communities are a different question though. In the first place, they should not be subjected to force mass evacuations, population control, food blockades, illegal arrests, arson, etc. Pushed to the wall, they are left with no choice but to use whatever weapon they can lay their hands on to resist the assaults of an oppressive force armed to the teeth with modern weapons.”

The CPDF needs to correct the false impression created by Lt. Col Migote that the “the presence of the huge NPA camp may have been the reason why NPAs laid improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along the pathways to delay the advance of government troops pursuing them, reason why a number of soldiers became victims of improvised land mines laid along the rebels’ withdrawal routes.” Aside from the fact that the so-called camps are actually temporary shelters long abandoned by the NPA, the NDFP answer to the questionnaire on land mines points out that:

“No part of our guerrilla base and zones can be considered ‘mined areas’. Our guerrilla warfare is exceedingly fluid. We rely mainly on the support and mobilization of the masses and on flexible guerrilla tactics to defeat the enemy and defend ourselves. We need as much open area as possible for the maneuver of our guerrilla units. The rural masses also need as much free space as possible for their livelihood and other daily activities.”

The CPDF calls on the Cordillera masses to reject and frustrate the propaganda offensive of the military as it is an adjunct of its political maneuvers to justify the increasing militarization of the region, as they make desperate moves to comply with the doomed pipedream to reduce the New People’s Army and the revolutionary movement to an inconsequential level before their fake commander-in-chief leaves Malacañang this June 2010.

Rebolusyon kayet!