THESE weapons of ghastly and massive death and destruction are decidedly a throwback to a primitive past.
They are now only used by desperate but determined terrorists and other violent groups out to topple governments and sow socio-economic instability.
In fact, global organizations like the United Nations and international humanitarian agencies like the Red Cross have formally condemned and serially denounced landmines as a weapon just like poison gas and other lethal chemicals, specially when used against civilian populations.
And yet, local communist rebels persist in using landmines in theire senseless insurgent war against government forces and sometimes even civilian or non-combatant elements.
This makes their armed struggle devoid of a moral ascendancy.
And so, President Duterte issued early Sunday morning an ultimatum against communist rebels’ use of landmines and demanded inclusion of the battlefield issue in the peace talks or else the negotiations are off.
“Either you stop it or we stop talking,” the President said in a news conference held at the wake of four Philippine Army infantry troops killed in two separate encounters in Compostela Valley on Friday against alleged members of the New People’s Army.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Eastern Mindanao Command said in a news release Saturday that a landmine explosion killed three of the soldiers. Eastmincom condemned “in the highest form the deliberate use of landmine by the NPAs which is in violation of the International Humanitarian Law.”
Addressing the negotiators of the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front (CPP-NDF), the President said, “I would insist you include the landmines or else no talks at all, then we fight for another 45 years…. I am now invoking the Geneva Conventions. It is part of the international law, not only of the Philippines but around the world.”
The President was at the soldiers’ wake from Saturday evening until the early hours of Sunday at the Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Panacan, Davao City.
Killed in action were Cpl Gilmar C. Mapa, Cpl Jimmy M. Bayta, Pfc Rolen Roy C. Sarmiento, and Cpl Ruel G. Mangaoang, less than a week after Duterte lifted on July 30 the government’s unilateral ceasefire vis-à-vis the communist rebels.
The President declared the truce during his first State of the Nation Address last July 25. It can be recalled that President Duterte lamented the heavy and “tragic” cost of armed rebellion.
“All of us want peace, not the peace of the dead, but the peace of the living. We express our willingness and readiness to go to the negotiating table, and yet we load our guns, fix our sights, pull the trigger. It is both ironic and tragic— and it is endless,” he said in the SONA.
“While we extol the bravery and heroism of our soldiers, kayo, the rebels, do the same for your members and fighters. What I see instead are the widows and the orphans and I feel their pain and grieve, and no amount of cash assistance or the number of medals can compensate the loss of a human life. Sorrow cuts across every stratum of society. It cuts deeply and the pain lasts forever,” the President added iin his first SONA.