The Armed Forces of the Philippines claimed to have dug up another mass grave of victims of the Communist Party of the Philippines anti-infiltration campaign in Leyte province. But Bayan Muna party-list Satur Ocampo and Committee DEFEND said the AFP had in the past “faked” other mass graves, and is doing it now to conceal its culpability in the current rash of killings.
Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo and an international group accused Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Hermogenes Esperon Jr. of “faking” the Leyte mass graves, to conceal the military’s role in the continued killings and abductions of activists.
“General Esperon is a master of fakery. He rigged the 2004 elections in Mindanao in order to deliver fake votes to Gloria Arroyo. He is once more engaged in fabrication about the mass killing of people in the 80s to benefit the fake president Arroyo,” said a statement by the Committee to Defend Filipino Progressives in Europe (Committee-DEFEND).
The AFP on Aug. 26 claimed to have dug up a mass grave of supposed rebels killed in the 1980s by their comrades on suspicion of being government spies. Sixty-seven human skulls and skeletal remains were found at the site on Mount Sapang Daku, Kaulisihan village, Inopacan town, Leyte province, an AFP report said. Leyte is part of Easter Visayas, mid-Philippines.
Maj. Felix Mangyao, spokesman of the 8th Infantry Division, said the remains were those of alleged victims of “Operation Anti-VD” of the New People’s Army.
Esperon named Ocampo, Prof. Jose Maria Sison and Luis Jalandoni as the ones who signed the order for the executions.
Sison was the founding chair of the Communist Party of the Philippines and now the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), while Jalandoni is the NDFP chief negotiator in the peace talks with the government.
“The military top brass is so desperate to save its remaining honor, the generals find nothing wrong in lying to the public, using corpses and skeletons to portray an alleged purge, and continuing to engage in partisan political activity against legitimate party list organizations and representatives like myself,” said Tonyo Cruz, Ocampo’s press officer, quoting the solon.
Cruz said that “it is public knowledge that Ka Satur was in prison and was being tortured by the military at the time Esperon alleges his having a role in the purported purges.”
The Committee-DEFEND, on the other hand, said Sison could not have anything to do with Esperon’s claims. “Prof. Sison was under maximum security detention by the military under the Marcos fascist regime 1977 to 1986 and that after teaching for six months in the University of the Philippines in 1986 he left the Philippines on August 31, 1986 for his international lecture tour. Since 1986, he has been abroad and has not performed any political party function in the Philippines.”
Ocampo’ statement said that the Communist Party of the Philippines had long “painfully admitted” the purges among its ranks. “The victims (were) given decent burials and tributes as martyrs, and the perpetrators and masterminds have since left the Party and now act as special agents of the military and police to avoid being held accountable to their criminal acts.”
In 1992, the CPP began its Second Great Rectification Movement, admitting among its grave errors the anti-infiltration “hysteria.” According to a CPP anniversary statement, the search turned into widespread panic, a hysteria, which violated “the individual rights of suspects, the standards of due process and the rules of scientific examination and weighing of evidence.” CPP documents said the rectification movement was meant to ensure that such hysteria will not be repeated.
The military had in the past faked other “mass graves” in its propaganda war against the revolutionary movement, but these “faded away” after being reported on the media, said Committee DEFEND. “The national security adviser, the generals and military psywar experts have several times fabricated stories about mass burial grounds of the New People’s Army in Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Quezon.”
“In some cases they have desecrated the remains of indigenous people in old burial grounds,” said the statement.
Cruz said that in May this year, National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales claimed to have found a “killing field” in Bukidnon. “But the provincial governor and congressman rejected the charges. The concoction was fully exposed when the soldiers who Gonzales said unearthed the remains admitted that Gonzales was behind the whole idea and wrote the whole script.”
The military and the police are widely believed to be the perpetrators of 744 extrajudicial killings and 182 enforced disappearances, allegedly in line with counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya. (Bulatlat.com)