Tue. Jun 22nd, 2021

The New People’s Army (NPA), and officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) may be compelled to indemnify or pay damages to victims of their human rights abuses and atrocities amounting to the billions, a spokesman for the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) said on Wednesday.

(photo courtesy: http://www.pna.gov.ph)

Undersecretary Severo Catura, Executive Director of the Presidential Human Rights Committee Secretariat (PHRCS), explained that under existing local and international laws, particularly the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), parties that are found guilty of such abuses and atrocities committed in a situation of internal armed conflict may be compelled by the courts to indemnify their victims.

Under Section 14 of Republic Act No. 9851, or the “Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide and Other Crimes Against Humanity” signed into law on Dec. 11, 2009, Catura said the courts follow the principles relating to reparations, including restitution, compensation and rehabilitation, and determine the amount of the same based on the scope and extent of damages inflicted.

“However, regardless of the amount that shall be determined and demanded by the courts, it cannot equal the pain and suffering brought about by past and present human rights abuses and atrocities perpetrated by the CTGs (communist terrorist groups),” said Catura, also NTF-ELCAC spokesperson on Human Rights, Peace Process and international Engagements.

Catura said it is high time that the CTGs be held accountable for their “spate of willful killings, their destruction of government and private property, their use of children as combatants, their internal purges, and their wanton disregard for human rights.”

“Already, the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) has submitted a list of CPP-NPA atrocities and the same shall be judiciously acted upon,” Catura said, “and we shall likewise refer the matter to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) that has ably guided our Armed Forces in the strict observance of IHL in their line of duty.”

The ICRC is a major partner of the Philippine government in the EO 134 Ad Hoc Committee for the State’s continued observance of IHL, co-chaired by the Department of National Defense and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

“Likewise, we shall inform the appropriate United Nations body, through the UN Resident Coordinator and the Senior Human Rights Adviser in the Philippines of this development,” Catura said.

He reminded that no less than the UN Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, in its report on the human rights situation in the Philippines, mentioned human rights abuses and atrocities committed by the NPA.

The Palace official’s pronouncement came as the AFP-Center on the Laws of Armed Conflict (AFP-CLOAC) revealed last Monday that the CPP-NPA was responsible for a staggering 1,506 atrocities and IHL violations recorded from 2010-2020. SOVEREIGNPH

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