MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang on Tuesday condemned communist New People's Army (NPA) rebels for using a landmine to kill 3 soldiers, saying the attack violated an accord banning the use of such devices.
"We condemn the use of landmines. We are a signatory to the CAHRIHL (Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law). The NPA knows that and yet they continue with their impunity of using land mines in their campaign against the government. We condemn in no uncertain terms the dastard[ly] act of using landmines to maim and kill our soldiers," Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.
He said this will be raised by government chief peace negotiator Alex Padilla with the NPA peace panel.
The 3 soldiers belonging to the 69th Infantry Battalion died after a landmine placed by NPA rebels exploded early Tuesday near an Army detachment in Davao City.
"They were on foot and on the way to a routine community security patrol and were about 300 to 400 meters from the patrol based (when attacked)," said Maj. Jacob Thaddeus Obligado, commander of the 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion.
"The rebels fled upon detonation, there was no firefight," Obligado added.
He said the NPAs' use of landmines violates the CAHRIHL that the communist group signed in the 1990s.
In recent years, the NPA has defended its use of such weapons, saying they were set off by remote-control and should not be considered as landmines.
The government signed a global agreement against the use of landmines in 1997.
The communists have waged a Maoist rebellion since 1969, carrying out attacks mostly in remote rural areas in the countryside, with the insurgency having claimed thousands of lives.
Although the government has held on-and-off peace negotiations with the rebels since 1986, the latest round of talks hit a deadlock in November when Manila refused their demand to free captured insurgent leaders.
The NPA is estimated to number fewer than 5,000, based mostly in the rural areas of this impoverished archipelago. - with reports from Willard Cheng, ABS-CBN News; Agence France-Presse