Justice vowed for NPA victims

An official on Friday vowed to deliver justice to the families of those killed by communist rebels in the more than 50-year insurgency launched by the Communist Party of the Philippines—New People’s Army.

“These killings should not go unpunished so as not to develop a sense of impunity among rebels,” National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. said in a statement sent to reporters.

“It is high time that the CPP-NPA be held accountable for the atrocities they have committed against the people. particularly to the grieving families of the Inopacan Massacre.”

Esperon, the 29th and last witness to the Inopacan Massacre case, continued his testimony and presentation of evidence to the trial of the CPP-NPA founder and Chairman Jose Maria Sison and 36 other communist leaders.

“As my moral and social duty, I shall see to it that those responsible for these heinous crimes are held answerable to the bar of justice,” he said.

Sison and other CPP-NPA leaders are facing 15 counts of murder in connection with the alleged killing of more than 100 former members of NPA who were buried in Mt. Sapang Dako in Inopacan, Leyte, sometime in 2006.

Esperon was the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Chief of Staff when the massacre was discovered on August 31, 2006.

In his testimony, Esperon narrated his personal account of the massacre that transpired during Operation Venereal Disease (Oplan VD) launched by the CPP and conducted by the NPA during the 1980s, to which those suspected to be government sympathizers were being liquidated.

“It is estimated that all the purges nationwide cost more than 4,000 lives of the NPA cadres, fighters and civilians. I take the position that, as shown by evidence, the Central Committee members of the CPP-NPA, led by Jose Ma. Sison, are complicit and directly responsible for the mass murders,” Esperon said.

Among the many pieces of evidence presented by Esperson to the Manila Trial Court Branch 32 were documents written by CPP-NPA Central Committee that discussed the alarm given to territorial units, internal purging and affected organization and written by the Melito Glor Command, which detailed how the MGC investigates tortured, buried in mass graves, suspected infiltrators.

Esperon also presented a video clip dated 2006 showing Satur Ocampo acknowledging the purges while committing that the party will compensate the victims and families they left behind.

“The blood of these victims lie squarely in the hands of perpetrators and implementers of these nationwide mass purges, regardless of the NPA’s blanket denial of its involvement,” Esperon said.

On August 28, 2006 patrolling soldiers discovered a mass grave in Mt. Sapang Dako in Inopacan, Leyte. Out of the 103 remains, only 15 were identified by their relatives and former comrades in the NPA.

According to Esperon the Inopacan mass murder was part of the CPP-NPA’s brutal attempt to purge its ranks of suspected government informants in the 1980s.

The official added that from 1984 to 1986, numerous eyewitness accounts had told the story of how the CPP-NPA launched a nationwide purging of their ranks. Oplan Venereal Disease, as it was named in the Visayas, claimed the lives of around 3,000 people merely suspected of being government assets embedded within its organization.

“I am beholden to the victims and the families they left behind to seek justice. In the same light, I urge Chairman Sison, who is now in his twilight years, to contemplate on his actions as the longstanding Chairman of the CPP-NPA. With certainty, it can be stated that he and the CPP-NPA have caused decades of misery and suffering in the country and in particular, to his former comrades and their families,” Esperon said.

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