Rebels own up killing of 2 traffic cops

KIDAPAWAN CITY — The New Peoples’ Army (NPA) operating in Southwest Mindanao admitted Friday the attack against members of the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP) along the Cotabato-Davao highway on Thursday.

Ka Efren, spokesperson for the National Democratic Front (NDF) Far South Mindanao Region, said the assault against the HPG that killed two of the policemen and wounded four others, three of them civilians, was a “legitimate military operation.”

He said the attack was led by operatives of the NPA Front 72 whose area of operations include the towns of Makilala in North Cotabato and nearby Columbio town in Sultan Kudarat province.

Ka Efren said they consider as “combatants” the traffic cops even if their main task is not to run after communist guerillas in the hinterlands.

The NDF official used as basis in his declaration some provisions in the Protocol 1 and 2 of the Geneva Convention.

Ka Efren said their “legitimate targets” include the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the police and other para-military groups of the Philippine government, and private armies.

“We challenge the Army to read and understand the provisions in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and the International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL). The attack last Thursday was not a violation of this agreement,” he stressed.

The rebel spokesperson also clarified that one of the reasons for launching the attack was a response to several complaints of many motorists and drivers plying the highway that connects the North Cotabato province to Davao City of the “extortion” activities allegedly done by the traffic cops.

“Based on our investigations, the traffic cops doing inspection along Cotabato-Davao highway would earn daily thousands of pesos from ‘kotong’ or ‘extortion’ from drivers and motorists. We’ve received several complaints about their massive highway extortion,” Ka Efren said.

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