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Unreported atrocities

Wednesday, November 8, 2006

Every now and then, we read newspaper headlines like “Another militant killed,” or “Another activist murdered.” These reports make it seem as though there were a killing spree against militants and activists.

What makes matter worse is the propensity of media to make even the killings of religious or cleric look like a government vendetta against those critical of the administration. Recall that in spite of positive proof and evidence that an Aglipayan priest was killed by robbers, some members of the media choose to take the word of militants, activists, and other detractors of the Arroyo administration to blame the police and the military.

In the meantime, hardly anything is said or reported about atrocities committed by communist insurgents.


Consider these:

In the first week of this month alone, New People’s Army terrorists in Brgy. Linoan, Montevista, Compostela Valley burned a trailer truck loaded with bananas for export to Korea. Banana farmers in Southern Mindanao have been reeling from repeated NPA attacks.

A plantation owner in Panabo complained that the rebels burned his vehicles and equipment and destroyed several hectares of banana plantation. Another farmer in Paquibato district said his equipment was torched.

Jesuit priest Fr. Romeo Intengan reported that in Davao City, the NPAs chopped down more than 800 banana plants when the plantation owner refused to pay “revolutionary taxes,” resulting in a loss of P4 million and throwing some 300 workers out of jobs. He also said that in Agusan del Sur, the rebels demanded P3 million from a mayor and a lesser amount from another.

Brig. Gen. Carlos Holganza, the army battalion commander in Compostela Valley, spoke of reports that the NPA has been demanding 50 percent of the profits of businessmen in the area. It has also been extorting small amounts from poor families.

It is to be recalled that in August this year, Akbayan party-list Rep. Etta Rosales, a critic of the Arroyo administration, denounced the NPA for burning a truck delivering muscovado sugar. The vehicle was owned by Alter Trado, a cooperative organized by former rebels and members of the militant left. The torching was done for the truck owner’s refusal to pay P30 million demanded by the NPAs.

There was, of course, the NPA handiwork in Silay, Negros Occidental when some 1,000 of the 1,400 workers constructing the P3.4 billion airport in Silay City were temporarily thrown out of work after the NPA torched P30 million worth of equipment.

The last two incidents were reported because of Rosales and because of the amount of damage involved. But what about other NPA atrocities done for people’s failure to give in to extortion efforts of these gangs of thieves? What about other despicable acts?

Sadly, media tends to ignore them.


Many of the insurgents up there in the hills are no longer working for a communist ideology. Actually, they have transformed into bandits and gangsters.

More reprehensible than extortion and arson are the killings, tortures and other atrocities committed by bandits and gangsters calling themselves rebels. Commissioner Wilhelm Soriano himself of the Commission on Human Rights says that the NPA is responsible for some 36 percent of the human rights violations. This is most probably a very conservative figure, considering that as late as last month, authorities were discovering one killing field after another.

What is sad though is that while Human Rights Chairman Patricia Quisumbing is quick to condemn alleged violation of human rights by the police and the military, she seems to gloss over NPA atrocities. Sadder still is the propensity of Philippine media attribute these killings to government’s vendetta against activists, militants and critical journalists.


Two cases reported to media are those of Davao City labor organizers Luz Aniasco Laguna and her husband Merculiano; and of Kathlyn Ramos of Cabanatuan City. Ramos was a student of the Central State University in Muñoz City, Nueva Ecija, and is a member of the League of Filipino Students.

The Laguna couple was ordered by the group to go to Cebu in 1984, but chose to visit Luz’s sister in Manila on their way to a supposed new job in Mandaue. That was the last time their relatives saw them. They were suspected as government spies and were killed during the 1985 purge ordered by the Communist Party of the Philippines-National Democratic Front-New People’s Army.

The couple left behind a three-year-old son when they were taken. The party made no provisions for the sustenance of the boy who was left in the care of a non-relative, who, in spite of poverty, was able to send the boy to school. Unfortunately, the boy was killed in a fraternity rumble just as he was about to graduate from college.

On the other hand, Kathlyn Ramos was a former NPA who was taken from CSU on Oct. 13, 2002, and executed several days later by five rebels, two of whom were identified as Emeterio Untalan, chairman of the communist party in Nueva Ecija, and Leopoldo Caluza, chairman of the Regional Guerrilla Unit in Central Luzon. Her remains were exhumed by a team of National Police and military personnel last Oct. 5 in Brgy. Kaliwanagan, San Jose City, in the presence of her mother.

It turned out that Kathlyn was killed because she has a relative with the military, and she was suspected of being a deep penetration agent. Her grave was located through the efforts of former rebels headed by one Gil Navarro.

It has been estimated that the NPA has killed more than 1,700 policemen, soldiers, and innocent civilians.


There are more horrifying stories of NPA atrocities not finding their way to newspaper headlines.

In mid-September this year, tips from former rebels led to the discovery of another killing field containing 21 skeletal remains in the mountains of San Fernando, Bukidnon. This is apart from the alleged killing fields found in Agusan del Sur, in Brgy. Taliganan in Butuan City, and in some hinterland villages in Misamis Oriental.

Early last month, former rebels led government troops in exhuming graves in Inopacan, Leyte that contained 67 bodies in burial grounds. It was believed that the NPA called this place “the garden.” Examination of the remains conducted by the National Police Crime Laboratory disclosed that the victims had been clubbed, stabbed or hacked to death. The weapons used were lead pipes, daggers, scythes and pieces of wood known in the vernacular as “dos por dos.”

The execution of Kathlyn belies the claim of the communists that the killings or purging of former rebels ended in the 1980s. There is reason to believe that the purges are still ongoing.

One is led to wonder whether the so-called political killings are not the handiwork of the communist themselves wherein they also hope to achieve another objective while stirring public anger at the government by blaming these killings on the military and the police.


Leaders of the CPP-NDF-NPA, including former NDF spokesman and now Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, had admitted that the purges were indeed undertaken by the communist movement to excise the insurgents of spies they call reactionaries and deep penetration agents. It had been admitted that some 900 had already been killed. But at the rate new killing fields are being discovered, there is great probability that the number of victims could be much more.

What I find most interesting is that while Satur Ocampo and the rest of his cohorts in Congress like Crispin Beltran, Teddy Casiño, Liza Masa and others get media mileage in blaming political killings on the movement, their other three fingers point back at them.

While they are so vocal against these killings, there’s a deafening silence on worse of all, purges of their former comrades. Isn’t this very revealing?

All these make the NPA still the biggest threat to national security.


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