The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) (MNS Photo)

MANILA, June 9 (Mabuhay) –The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are working on filing cases against the leadership of the New People’s Army (NPA) in connection with Sunday’s bomb attack in Masbate City.

In a statement on Wednesday, AFP spokesperson Major General Edgard Arevalo  said the AFP assures the relatives of the victims that the state forces will hunt the perpetrators of the attack, including their leaders.

“We will continue to work vigorously with the PNP in the filing of criminal cases against the murderers and the violators of Republic Act 9851 for the  CTG’s (communist terrorist group) leadership who directed the wanton killing of hapless non-combatant civilians using land mines,” Arevalo said.

RA 9851, or Philippine Act on Crimes Against International Humanitarian Law, Genocide, and Other Crimes Against Humanity, prohibits attacks against civilians.

“On behalf of the Filipino People, we will bring to the bar of justice the Communist Terrorist Group leadership who ordered the execution and their complicit cohorts,” Arevalo said.

Killed in the attack were college football player Kieth Absalon, 21, and his relative Nolven. Nolven’s 16-year-old son also sustained injuries from the explosion.

The Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the communist rebels’ bomb attack using an improvised explosive device planted on the ground constitutes a war crime.

In a statement on Wednesday, HRW senior Philippine researcher Carlos Conde said the use of anti-personnel landmines are also prohibited in the Philippines under the Mine Ban Treaty.

“The killing of a labor leader and a football player by an IED planted by the New People’s Army shows the terrible threat such weapons pose to all civilians,” he said.

“The use of anti-personnel landmines, which are prohibited in the Philippines under the Mine Ban Treaty, is a war crime,” he added.

According to Conde, the perpetrators behind the attack are subject to criminal prosecution not only in the Philippines but also in courts around the world.

The Communist Party of the Philippines and the NPA expressed remorse over the incident, with CPP spokesman Marco Valvuena attributing it to “errors of an NPA unit.”

“The entire CPP and NPA express deep remorse and take full responsibility for the untimely deaths of cousins Kieth and Nolven Absalon,” Valvuena said.

Commission on Human Rights spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia strongly condemned the attack. “The use of anti-personnel landmines is a violation of the International Humanitarian Law (IHL),” she said in a statement.

On Tuesday, three alleged members of the NPA who were suspects in the bomb attack were killed during hot pursuit operations conducted by government forces

AFP chief General Cirilito Sobejana commended the AFP and PNP personnel that killed three alleged NPA members who are suspects behind the attack in pursuit and law enforcement operations.

The AFP and the PNP earlier announced that they were conducting a manhunt for the suspects behind the blast. (MNS)

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