GOVERNMENT forces exhumed the skeletal remains of a New People’s Army (NPA) rebel believed to be a victim of a mass purge implemented by the Communist Party of the Philippines within the rebels’ rank several years back.
Major Angelo Guzman, Ninth Infantry Division spokesman, on Thursday, said that combined elements of the 49th Infantry Battalion and the local police recovered the remains of Juanito Hirang in Sitio Santol, Barangay Old Camp in Capalonga, Camarines Norte.
Lt. Col. Micheael Buhat, Ninth Infantry Battalion commander, said that the information was tipped off to them by the victim’s former comrade, who was then with the underground movement when Hirang was executed on July 9, 2004.
“It has been bothering his conscience for years that is why he reported it to the Army in order for the victim to have a decent burial,” Buhat said.
Hirang’s skeletal remains was turned over to his family in the municipality of Jose Panganiban.
Last year, some 30 skeletal remains of people also believed to be victims of the communist’s mass purging were also unearthed from a common grave in Bondoc Peninsula of Quezon province.
In 2006, dozens of bodies, also believed to be that of the Maoist rebels, were also exhumed in Inopacan, Leyte province.
The purging operations was reportedly implemented by the communist party starting in the mid 1980s through the so-called Plan Missing Link, which was meant to cleanse the underground movement of alleged military spies, or deep penetration agents.
In Mindanao, the rebels called the purging as operation zombie. A rebel caught spying, or suspected as an undercover agent is considered a zombie, or a walking dead.
Reports said that before a zombie was executed, he or she underwent first a mock trial. If the evidence was weak, he or she was detained and tortured to squeeze out information that would later be used as basis for his or her execution.
The purging took the lives of hundreds of suspected spies, which later caused a schism in the movement that also led to the murder of some communist leaders.