Communist rebels own up carnival blast in Davao-A A +A
Friday, September 7, 2012
DAVAO CITY -- The New People's Army (NPA) finally broke its silence and owned up the grenade explosion in a carnival last September 1 that wounded 48 civilians.
In a press statement released Friday, Rigoberto F. Sanchez, spokesperson of the NPA's Merardo Arce Command (MAC), said the group takes full responsibility for the incident in Barangay Fatima, Paquibato, this city.
Sanchez admitted that the NPA's 1st Pulang Bagani Company (PBC) "made a wrong decision in initiating a tactical offensive against the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) detachment located in a civilian population."
Sanchez added that they are standing firm for "justice and truth" and the organization will conduct an internal investigation of the unfortunate incident.
"The NPA's 1st PBC aimed in targeting a legitimate target to emasculate the enemy and wipe out its structure that has placed the lives and properties of the people in danger. But it erred in considering the circumstances, combat intelligence and all pertinent operational information in instigating the NPA action. In the face of this gross mistake in judgment, the MAC-SMROC-NPA is currently initiating an internal investigation and is ready to take appropriate courses of action, to include among others, disciplinary action on the responsible unit," part of the NPA's statement read.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said she won't order the pullout of the Army detachment in Barangay Fatima.
"I will (only) order a pullout if there is any wrongdoing by the soldiers, but there is none. Police report said it was the NPA. I only rely on official police investigation report," the mayor told Sun.Star Davao in a text message.
Duterte-Carpio said the issue is not about the Army's detachment in Fatima but the NPA lobbing the grenade.
"This is not about the soldiers, this is about the NPA and the fact that they threw a grenade which caused injuries on civilians," the mayor added.
The mayor also urged the NPA to surrender their members who are involved in the grenade blast.
"They must give up whoever threw the grenade, it is a crime and therefore must be prosecuted in court," Duterte-Carpio said.
She said the incident will, however, have no effect on the City Government's policy in pursuing peace with the rebel group.
"And for all NPAs not involved in the grenade throwing incident, our arms are open for peace. They just name a place and time and we will be there to talk peace," Duterte-Carpio added.
The mayor said she also would like to know if the soldier commanding the detachment in Fatima would also recommend its pullout.
Duterte-Carpio was referring to Colonel Lysander Suerte, commander of the Army's 103rd Infantry Brigade, who said the military will continue with its peace and development outreach program in Paquibato area.
Suerte said the government will sustain its presence in the areas until they "achieve peace and development for the people."
For Suerte, the military won't succumb to the self-serving statements of the NPAs who oppose the government all the time.
"We will continue to do this in coordination with local government units. We will stand by the welfare of the greater number of our people," Suerte added.
The grenade blast last September happened while a number of civilians were at the carnival watching a circus show, which was set up for the village’s fiesta celebration.
Investigation revealed that the grenade was tossed toward an army detachment but it hit a protective net and bounced back and exploded in the midst of the crowd. (Sun.Star Davao/Sunnex)
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 08, 2012.