Wednesday, October 25, 2006
CAGAYAN de Oro City (BEN BALCE / Oct 24) - The Armed Forces yesterday said its evidences that communist party leaders ordered the purging of over a hundred rebels and civilians in the provinces of Leyte, Bukidnon, the two Surigaos and Agusans are stronger than that of linking the military to the rash of killings of leftist militants.
Capt. Ramon Zagala, deputy chief of the military’s public information office, said they have witnesses to prove that communist party founder Jose Ma. Sison ordered the purge in the ‘80s.
Aside from Sison, the other two top communist members linked by the military to the purge called “Operation VD,” were Luis Jalandoni, chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front, and Bayan Muna party list Rep. Satur Ocampo.
Jalandoni and Ocampo were then members of the central committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines, according to Zagala.
“It is historically proven that you (communist leaders) purge your ranks and you just cannot set aside statements tagging you as responsible for this (purge),” Zagala said.
The killings have been condemned by human rights groups and prompted President Gloria Arroyo to order an investigation. Left-wing groups have blamed the military, which has denied involvement.
Leaders of the underground Communist Party and its armed wing have acknowledged that up to 900 suspected spies and government informers were killed in the southern Mindanao region during the 1980s. More than 60 others were killed in Quezon province and outlying areas southeast of Manila, according to people who survived the purges.
The guerrillas later acknowledged the killings as among the most horrible blunders in the insurgency.
Earlier, AFP General Hermogones Esperon said the military, police and other agencies will file multiple murder charges against Sison and Jalandoni, both living in exile in the Netherlands, and opposition lawmaker Ocampo.
The military has been blamed for the killing of more than 100 militants since President Arroyo assumed the presidency in January 2001.
Unlike the Leftist groups, he said, the military has witnesses “who are saying you were the ones who did this (purge) so you have to be held responsible for this.”
The military earlier said one of their witnesses, a former rebel leader, can prove that Sison, Jalandoni and Sison signed a document ordering the “cleansing” of their ranks.
Among military officials being implicated in the rash killings is former Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, commander of the 7th Infantry Division. Palparan has called the allegations mere propaganda.
Meanwhile, Jesuit priest Fr. Romeo Intengan said it is possible that most of the militants recently killed were also victims of a cleansing ordered by CPP leaders to rid their ranks of suspected traitors and infiltrators.
Intengan, who is also the chairman of the Partido Demokratiko Sosyalista ng Pilipinas (PDSP), said there has been no change in the policies and character of CPP and NDF leaders who he said can easily order its armed wing, the New People’s Army, to liquidate party members believed to be traitors to the movement.
He said the “barbaric executions” carried out as far back as 20 years ago have not stopped.
He said the mass graves in Leyte and other places in Mindanao are evidence of “extreme paranoia and ruthlessness” of communist leaders.
Starting Aug. 26 until early this October, government troops from the 8th Infantry Division and the Army’s 4th Infantry Division here began digging up mass graves in different hinterland barangays in the country.
In Barangay Kaulisihan in Inopacan, Leyte, and in Bukidnon, about a hundred bodies of rebel and civilian remains were uncovered and were said to have been ordered executed in the 1980s on suspicion they were military spies.
Earlier, the 4th Infantry Division here, had recovered over 50 skeletal remains. Quoting initial forensic tests, the military said three of the victims were women while a fourth was below 18 years old.
“The Leyte killing fields resulted from the paranoia and insecurity that has characterized the CPP-NPA-NDF ever since,” Intengan said.
The killings and disappearances were blamed by the NPA and their supporters on the military and police so that the people would hate the government.
“More than 20 years after, it is only now that we realize the truth. To those who accuse government now of the same heinous crimes, the truth will come out at the right time,” he said.
Intengan further said the CPP has its internal procedures guided by democratic centralism.
“There are no deviations, no questions. NPAs in Leyte carried out the purging on what they believed were party directives,” he said.
Intengan said the execution of party members suspected to be government informants or deep-penetration agents continues up to now.
“It is despicable that the CPP-NDF-NPA has not stopped carrying out summary executions. It has been rabid in condemning alleged killings perpetrated by the military and police. Communist leaders have no right to point an accusing finger at the government when they themselves are behind many of the killings,” he said.
Intengan challenged the human rights group like Karapatan to send a fact-finding team to different places where there were claimed buried victims of extra-judicial killings to investigate the victims of the purge.
Karapatan is among groups tagging the military behind the recent spate of killings.
The group is yet to issue a statement on the military’s challenge.
Karapatan Northern Mindanao chairperson Atty. Beberly Musni earlier tagged the Arroyo administration for being responsible in the series of extra-judicial killings in the region.