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Rebels pay compensation for grenade attack

Bishop calls gesture "a rare event"

  • Kerima Bulan T. Navales, Davao City
  • Philippines
  • September 19, 2012
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Victims of a rebel grenade attack in Davao City received an "initial indemnification" today from the National Democratic Front (NDF), the umbrella organization of communist insurgents in the country.

At least 50 victims received 5,000 pesos (US$120) each through the help of religious institutions, lawyers and journalists acting as third-party facilitators.

Bishop Modesto Villasanta of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines said the rebels' move was a "rare event," especially after the NDF issued an apology to the victims.

In addition to the payments, victims received counseling and medical assistance from a team of volunteers.

Bishop Villasanta said his group was assessing whether "full indemnification" would follow.

One of the victims, who asked not to be named, said the people are glad that the rebels issued a public apology.

"Having us hurt is something that they must be answerable for," he said in the local language. "It has affected us, caused us trauma and left an impact on our livelihood," he added.

Major Jacob Obligado, chief of the civilian-military office of the Army's 10th Infantry Division, however, said compensation alone was not enough to make up for the attack.

"You can’t right the wrong committed by giving out money to the victims," Obligado said.

He said there is no way that the rebels can ever indemnify the victims, adding that the indemnification "is meant to pacify the outrage of the community."

On September 1, rebels lobbed a grenade at a military detachment but it bounced off and exploded near a gymnasium, wounding people gathered for a show.

Five days later, the rebels issued a statement of "self-criticism" on the incident and apologized to the public and families, vowing to take "concrete measures" to indemnify the victims.

It also declared that it would hold an internal investigation and would take appropriate courses of action, “including disciplinary action” on the responsible unit.

Government authorities, however, said the rebels should "surrender their responsible unit" for prosecution in court.
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