By Yas Ocampo
DAVAO CITY – The New People’s Army (NPA) has called out the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)’ Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) for arresting Zaldy Cañete despite a Geneva Convention rule frowning upon actions on persons deemed hors de combat.
The NPA was referring to the arrest of Cañete, aka Ka Jinggoy, at a hospital in Bukidnon.
The International Committee on the Red Cross (ICRC) defines hors de combat as “anyone who is in the power of an adverse party; anyone who is defenseless because of unconsciousness, shipwreck, wounds or sickness; or anyone who clearly expresses an intention to surrender.”
“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 NPA said in a statement e-mailed to Manila Bulletin Sunday night.
“The GRP and the AFP should not subject Cañete to further punitive action by virtue of his condition as an hors de combat,” it said.
The NPA said that Cañete suffered a through-and-through bullet wound from his neck to a delicate portion of his head.
“He fell unconscious and the NPA medical team immediately conducted first aid intervention,” the statement said.
For 24 hours, Cañete was in and out of consciousness, sustaining so much blood loss, the rebel group added.
Government troops engaged the rebels in a two-hour firefight around 1:30 p.m. of May 10, with the 1st Pulang Bagani claiming to kill at least eight soldiers.
The soldiers were supported by aerial and ground bombing, the NPA said.
“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,” the NPA said.
According to the rebels, Cañete underwent an eleven-hour brain surgery the next day.
“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,” the NPA said.
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 (CARHRIHL), 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,” the rebels said.
Cañete is reportedly 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,” the NPA said.
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.
Cañete had earlier been placed under the custody of authorities in 2010 and had consequently posted and jumped bail.
The NPA claimed that Cañete was also not afforded proper medical treatment at the time.
“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,” the NPA said.