Horrible weapons

THAT DOES IT - Korina Sanchez (The Freeman) - June 14, 2021 - 12:00am

Land mines and Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) are like the coronavirus. They do not choose whom to victimize, be it soldiers, communist insurgents, or civilians. The horror of those weapons is once they are buried in the ground or hidden, they can be stepped on unless deliberately detonated. There is no guarantee the mines will target the enemy. This is the fate that befell cousins Kieth and Nolven Absalon while cycling in Barangay Anas, Masbate City, last Sunday. Kieth Absalon was an FEU juniors division MVP of the UAAP in Season 78.

It is not clear if the bomb was deliberately detonated or if the bicycles triggered the explosion but it appears the former caused the explosion. The CPP-NPA has claimed responsibility for the tragedy, apologized, and condoled with the Absalon families, and "expressed willingness to extend any appropriate form of indemnification". The Makabayan Bloc condemned the NPA for the deaths of civilians. They urged the families of the victims to file complaints against those behind the explosion. The DILG and DND demanded the NPA surrender those behind the explosion but the CPP-NPA has already rejected this stating the "unit behind the landmine blast are under the authority of the NPA". This provides no comfort at all for the families who are demanding justice.

This is why urban warfare is dangerous. The battle lines are not defined and civilians often find themselves in the crossfire. The stockpiling, use, production, and transfer of landmines or IEDs are prohibited under the 1997 Ottawa Treaty to which the Philippines is a party. Not surprisingly the United States and China are not a party to the treaty along with more than 30 other states such as Israel and Iran known for being in a constant state of war-preparedness. The late Princess Diana of Wales advocated the ban and removal of landmines particularly in Africa. She made a dramatic walk near a minefield in Angola to highlight the danger of these mines. While she was all geared up for protection, civilians do not have that luxury. Precisely what happened to the Absalon cousins. The question is why was the IED triggered? Were the cousins cycling beside soldiers or a military convoy? Landmines may be prohibited but who follows these rules in times of war? As long as the NPA does not lay down their arms and surrender or until the AFP is finally victorious in their decades-long fight against all enemies of the state, Kieth and Nolven Absalon may not be the last innocent casualties of these horrible weapons.

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