PHILIPPINE REVOLUTION WEBCENTRAL

AFP has no business in arresting hors de combat Zaldy Cañete

The New People’s Army Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command declares Zaldy Cañete an hors de combat, who is rightful to avail of protection, respect and a speedy humanitarian medical treatment and recovery under the international humanitarian law and/or civilized rules of warfare.

The US-Duterte regime, in particular the Eastern Mindanao Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, has no basis to force Cañete to surrender, serve him warrants of arrest on the strength of fictitious charges or deprive him of medical treatment. The GRP and the AFP should not subject Cañete to further punitive action by virtue of his condition as an hors de combat.

On May 10, 2018, Red fighters under the 1st Pulang Bagani Company were on active defense mode following the sustained and coercive military operations of the 3rd Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in Barangay Kipilas, Kitaotao, Bukidnon. At 1:30pm, Cañete along with the 1st PBC-NPA engaged the enemy troops in a two-hour battle which was intensified by the enemy’s aerial and ground bombing.

Cañete and the 1st PBC fiercely stood their ground and valiantly gave battle to defend the unit. At least eight enemy troops fell from the firefight. Cañete sustained head and body injuries. A bullet exited from his neck to his head. He fell unconscious and the NPA medical team immediately conducted first aid intervention. For 24 hours, Cañete was in and out of consciousness, sustaining so much blood loss. To save Cañete’s life, the NPA command proceeded to evacuate and transfer him to the custody of his family who rushed him for admission at the nearest medical hospital in Bukidnon.

On May 11, Cañete underwent an eleven-hour brain surgery. His medical diagnosis revealed a bullet’s point of entry at the left lower ear area, and point of exit at right frontal skull; splinters at the right shoulders and right knee. On the morning of May 12, the AFP, PNP and intelligence operatives arrived and attempted to serve multiple warrants of arrest against Cañete who was still in critical condition at the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit.

The GRP’s hasty attempted arrest and detention of Cañete is treacherous and violates the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law, the Geneva Conventions and other generally accepted principles and standards of international humanitarian law which clearly protect injured persons of the Parties in armed conflict.

Presently still in critical medical condition and suffering from temporary loss of memory and speech, Cañete does not present any further threat and is incapable of fighting. The elementary rules of civilized warfare plainly guarantee Cañete the protection and respect as an hors de combat. His medical doctor/facility should likewise be allowed to give health and medical care without fear of reprisal—a right also enshrined in the aforesaid rules of armed warfare.

The proper humane treatment of Cañete is even more applicable, considering that when he was captured in 2010, he was seriously wounded and was admitted shortly at the military hospital in Davao City where he was not afforded proper medical treatment. He was hurriedly transferred to the Compostela Valley Provincial Jail where he suffered from recurring stomach wounds for the next five years prior to his release in July 2016.

In the same manner that the NPA has treated leniently any captured personnel of the military, police and paramilitary forces as prisoners of war in faithful allegiance to the international customary law pertaining to humanitarian principles, norms and rules in armed conflicts, the GRP has no recourse but to afford Cañete the same rights and non-discriminatory protection. To do otherwise smacks of the US-Duterte regime’s insincerity, duplicity and notoriety in the peace process between the GRP and the NDFP and in direct mockery of the import of human rights and international humanitarian law.

Topics: NPA, AFP, CARHRIHL, Hors De Combat, Southern Mindanao Region, Zaldy Cañete

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