The Philippine Army’s 53rd Infantry “Matapat” Battalion (53IB) abhors the continued use of landmines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) by the Communist New People’s Army Terrorists (CNTs) following the killing of student Keith Absalon and cousin Nolven Absalon last June 6.
Keith and Nolven died in an IED blast in Masbate —an IED planted by the NPA. The employment of landmines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) without particular rules of distinction, proportionality, and precautions in attack is banned and prohibited by the International Humanitarian Law (IHL), the United Nations (UN), and various conventions participated by many countries around the world.
Investigation reports also said the cousins were also fired upon by the members of the NPA. In a statement, 53IB Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Jo-ar Herrera said the NPA does not recognize and consider that life is sacred. “53IB condemns the NPA’s continued use of landmines and IEDs.
This is a clear violation of the International Humanitarian Law and shows their utter disregard for the sanctity of human life. This shows that their [NPA’s] core philosophy is anti-peace and anti-life,” said Lt. Col. Herrera.
Just last year, a total of 5 anti-personnel mines and 1 IED were unearthed by the troops of 53IB while pursuing the NPAs committing atrocities and crimes against the indigenous peoples (IPs) in the hinterlands.
Lt. Col. Herrera also said the communities were very thankful that the landmines and IED did not explode and caused unnecessary harm toward innocent civilians. “We are just thankful that our troops discovered the landmines and the IED first before exploding and killed unarmed civilians,” Lt. Col. Herrera added.
Vilma Absalon, the mother of Keith, said saying sorry is easy but she wants them [the NPA] gone and stop their destructive activities.
The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). It is a declared terrorist organization by governments both local and abroad.
This awarding ceremony is part of the 53IB’s drive to pursue transformation to become a world class Army that is a source of national pride by 2028 in line with the Army Transformation Roadmap (ATR).