Extending POW status to four GPH personnel is act of humanitarianism

CPP Information Bureau
August 13, 2011

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) today said that the New People's Army carried out an act of humanitarianism by according the status of Prisoners of War to the four personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP) currently under the custodial care of an NPA unit in Southern Mindanao.

The CPP said this in reaction to a statement yesterday by the Philippine government (GPH) peace panel denouncing the CPP/NPA for granting POW status to the four PNP/BJMP personnel and "presuming" to be a belligerent force and "act(ing) like one."

The CPP said the statement of the GPH negotiating panel condemning the granting of POW status to the NPA captives "betrays a poor understanding of international humanitarian law and a predilection to selectively apply it against the CPP-NPA-NDF while refusing to recognize the status of belligerency of the revolutionary forces."

"On the one hand, the GPH measures the revolutionary forces against the standards of international humanitarian law and human rights protocols which govern the conduct of states and belligerents. Yet it denounces such humanitarian acts as according prisoner-of-war status to captives and insists on treating the revolutionary forces as criminals instead of a belligerent force engaged in a civil war," explained the CPP.

The CPP explained that according the status of prisoners-of-war to the four GPH personnel is favorable to the four captives as this assures the recognition of their rights and eventual release from captivity. "By according POW status to the four personnel, the NPA custodial unit is required by international protocols to ensure their health and welfare, respect their democratic rights, ensure communication with their families and work for their eventual release with the help of third party interceders."

In a previous statement, the NPA Southern Mindanao Regional Command pointed out that the four GPH personnel were taken into custody while they were carrying out duties as functionaries of the reactionary state's prisons which serve as a vital cog in the GPH's counterrevolutionary war. The PNP/BJMP personnel were armed with high-powered rifles and ready to engage in combat. The NPA unit which engaged the PNP/BJMP unit, however, adapted tactics that enabled them to subdue the police personnel without firing a single shot and take them into custody in order to prevent them from further carrying out their counterrevolutionary duties.

The CPP clarified, however, that bestowing prisoner of war status on the four GPH personnel was done without prejudice to filing the appropriate cases against them before the People's Court should this be warranted after the conclusion of ongoing investigations on their possible involvement in past crimes. "If there is proof of any criminal responsibility, they will be properly charged and accorded basic rights as accused. But if they are cleared of culpability, their release will be arranged expeditiously. The only stumbling block would be the military operations being carried out by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which prevent their safe and orderly release."

Meanwhile, the CPP also addressed the concerns raised by the GPH negotiating panel over the detention of Lingig town Mayor Henry Dano who was arrested together with his two bodyguards on the strength of a warrant issued by the People's Court. They were taken into custody in order to accord them the right to be heard in preliminary investigations determining their culpability with respect to charges of involvement in armed operations of the AFP, PNP and other armed units of the GPH against the NPA and the local population.

"Mayor Dano et al are being presumed innocent until proven guilty. They have the right to counsel and enjoy other basic legal rights as provided for in the Rules on Establishing the People's Democratic Government," explained the CPP.