The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) demanded the Makabayan Bloc on Friday, June 11, to refrain from misleading the grieving family of a football player from the Far Eastern University (FEU) who got killed in a pre-meditated landmine blast allegedly perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA) in Masbate City last week.
DILG Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya called on the left-leaning lawmakers to stop urging the kin of 21-year-old Keith Absalon annd his cousin, Nolven, to file a case against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the NPA, with the Joint Monitoring Committee (JMC) under the framework of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Laws (CARHRIHL).
He stressed that the Makabayan bloc “should stop rubbing salt to the wounds” of the family because the JMC “is non-existent and has closed shop since the collapse of the peace talks.’’
“The JMC does not exist. Period. And even if it did, it had no investigative nor prosecutorial powers. It can only request for investigation to the concerned party,” Malaya said.
Further, Malaya noted that the country already has Republic Act No. 9851 or the Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and other Crimes Against Humanity so the JMC was no longer needed in filing cases against the suspects.
He said Makabayan bloc’s prodding on the CARHRIHL was “useless” as RA 9851 “is the correct legal platform where the families of victims and our government can assert and exact accountability and get justice.”
“CARHRIHL is just an agreement, this [RA 9851] is a law,” Malaya noted.
“Moreover, the CPP/NPA does not respect CARHRIHL because it uses both command-donated and contact-detonated landmines as offensive weapons. CARHRIHL clearly prohibits the use of land mines against people especially civilians and yet the Makabayan Bloc wants the family to use this very same agreement to bring the perpetrators to justice. There is no rhyme nor logic,” he added.
In a statement, the CPP insisted on the CARHRIHL stating that under the agreement, they were “obliged to cooperate with the NDFP (National Democratic Front of the Philippines) Section of the JMC if a complaint is filed before it.”
Instead of pointing the family to an endless goose chase, Malaya said the left-wing bloc should instead join the government, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and many groups in calling on the CPP/NPA to surrender the perpetrators so that they can be made accountable for their crimes.
Malaya said that since the Makabayan Bloc has admitted to “engagements” with the CPP/NPA/NDF, then it is the responsibility of the bloc as government officials to call on the communist rebels to surrender the perpetrators.
He said that special courts have already been designated by the Supreme Court to try war crimes such as those perpetrated in the Masbate attack.
Section 18 of RA 9851 provides that the Regional Trial Court of the Philippines shall have original and exclusive jurisdiction over the crimes punishable under the Act. Their judgments may be appealed or elevated to the Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court as provided by law.
It provides that the Supreme Court shall designate special courts to try cases involving crimes punishable under the Act.
For these cases, the CHR, the Department of Justice, the Philippine National Police, or other concerned law enforcement agencies shall designate prosecutors or investigators as the case may be.