NPA admits fault in wounding rescuers in Bansalan

Mar. 05, 2014

By John Rizle L. Saligumba
Davao Today

DAVAO CITY – The New People’s Army in a statement admitted fault in the wounding of four provincial rescuers in their latest offensive against military forces in Bansalan, Davao del Sur.

In a statement by Spokesperson Rigoberto Sanchez, the New People’s Army Southern Mindanao Regional Command issued an “apology” for having “hit an ambulance and injured four rescuers” when it  launched a “counter-offensive ambush against the 39th Infantry Battalion March 2 at 7pm.”

“We express our deep regret and commiserate with the victims from the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council namely Genaro Doronio Dumayas (driver), Bonita dela Cruz (nurse), Arnel Comandante Veloroso and Alberto Simbajon Cabual,” said Sanchez.

Sanchez said that “the medical staff and mobile medical units should not have been made target of any attack and whose protection and/or safety is guaranteed under the international humanitarian law.”

He also said that they have ordered a “full investigation” and “promise to undertake appropriate measures and impose disciplinary actions against the responsible NPA unit.”

Sanchez said that NPA operatives tasked to discharge the command detonated explosives “failed to distinguish the ambulance from its target, the two military trucks.”

Sanchez claims that “as per orders from the 39th IB [Infantry Battalion],” the ambulance was “inconspicuous in as far as it did not discharge its siren, nor was it using any headlights.”

In a statement released by Cpt. Ernest Carolina, the Army’s 10th Infantry Division said that it 39th IB troops “were reportedly able to successfully penetrate through the NPA encampment’s first defense perimeter despite the latter being well pitched and prepared defensively.”

The statement said that the “NPA was said to have sustained four dead and numerous wounded comrades in reports coming from the communities in the direction where the armed group fled.”

“We are sustaining casualties, but it is a fact that in armed combat, there are risks and uncertainties,” said 10thID Commander Major General Ariel B. Bernardo in the statement.

Another statement dated Marched 2 and released by 1002nd Infantry Brigade Public Affairs Office confirmed that “eleven personnel including two military officers” were wounded in the encounter.

Sanchez  said that their “counter-offensive” happened 6pm of March 2 and that “the same Army unit has utilized the civilian rescuers to collect the military casualties following its defeat earlier that day at 11am, when the Red fighters ambushed them in sitio Bagsak, Brgy Managa.”

NPA operatives “were alerted of the arrival of two military vehicles.”

“When the first vehicle passed through the ambush route, the Red fighters did not immediately switch on the trigger, preferring to wait to confirm that the next vehicle was the 6×6 truck. When the second vehicle passed through, the Red operatives discharged the explosives against the military vehicle. Regrettably, the blast affected the ambulance which was closely following the 6×6 truck,” he said.

Sanchez said that the NPA Regional Command “ordered to extend necessary assistance to civilian victims for their speedy recovery and so that they can get back to their medical/rescue profession in haste.”

The NPA, also “assures” that “civilian and/or medical volunteers are not targets of attack and should not be punished in the course of their neutral and humanitarian duties.”

But the NPA warns civilian authorities, the medical and rescue individuals and institutions to “refrain from carrying out other tasks that grants advantageous positions to the enemy and adversely forces the Red fighters to assume in active defense.”

“We maintain that medical personnel are only guaranteed absolute protection in so far as they remain neutral in the armed conflict. Medical personnel and medical transport should have fixed distinctive signs recognizable at a distance like siren and appropriate lighting, to prevent breach of their protective status whenever they enter areas of armed conflict,” Sanchez said. (John Rizle L. Saligumba/

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