Peace Advocates For Truth, Healing & Justice

What is PATH?
Peace Advocates for Truth, Healing & Justice (PATH) was formally organized in 2002, pioneering in its focus on human rights violations by a non-state armed group. Composed of torture survivors, families, relatives and friends of victims missing or executed during the anti-infiltration campaigns within the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in the 1980s, PATH seeks truth and justice from the CPP-NPA and other Left blocs involved in the anti-infiltration campaigns. PATH believes that all non-state armed groups, including those not from the Left movement, should observe human rights in the conduct of their resistance against the State. Ultimately, PATH holds the State accountable as well for the purges, and for military atrocities during martial law and throughout successive administrations.
Goals & Objectives
PATH's goals and objectives are as follows:
  • 1. Complete the documents of the cases of all victims during the purges and all those involved.
  • 2. Organize a national community of human rights defenders and advocates composed of survivors, families, relatives and friends of victims during the purges.
  • 3. Facilitate the healing of survivors as well as the families, relatives and friends of purge victims.
  • 4. Conduct exhumations so that victims are given due respect and proper burial.
  • 5. Conduct a comprehensive advocacy work. Its main components will be public information and campaign, solidarity-building and lobbying at the local, national and international levels.
  • 6. Deepen and popularize the culture of human rights through artistic and popular education, productions and other cultural endeavors.
  • 7. Come up with case studies of country experiences on the setting up of Truth and Justice Commissions and strive for the creation of a Truth and Justice Commission in the country together with other human rights organizations and individual human rights advocates.
  • 7 Committees
  • Research & Documentation. Documents stories and produces a database of victims in aid of locating burial sites; conducts research to surface facts and circumstances of the purges; publishes materials as tools for justice campaigns; ensures confidentiality and security of records and files.
  • Recovery of Victims' Remains. In cooperation with the victims' kin, locates gravesites, retrieves the remains and arranges their proper burial; mobilizes the services of forensic experts and other professionals; initiates dialogues with the victims' families as well as with perpetrators.
  • Counseling & Therapy. Facilitates healing sessions that address the long-term trauma of surivivors and victims families; mobilizes professionals in the fields of psychology and psychiatry; builds support groups for victims and their families towards eventual closure.
  • Communications & Popular Education. Develops education programs, including theoretical materials and tools for reflection, that revolve around human rights and respect for human dignity; holds commemoration activities and builds memorials for the victims; develops external communications through publications and mass media.
  • Legal & Security. Leads in the initiation and pursuance of legal actions for victims; assist in the handling and protection of material evidence in coordination with the RVR Committee; conducts research on the possibilities of a Truth Commission; studies the implications of PATH's work on the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the CPP-NPA-NDF; and ensures lines with established institutions that will help strengthen PATH;
  • Arts & Culture. Produces musical compositions, literary works, plays, video documentaries, films, and other cultural works from the stories of survivors and victims.
  • Organizing & Advocacy. Reaches out to survivors and victims' families in different regions and encourages solidarity in their journey towards justice and healing.
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    Wednesday, September 27, 2006
    Red purge victims kin find partial closure

    Exhumed from unmarked grave in Cebu
    By Luz Rimban
    Last updated 04:21am (Mla time) 09/27/2006

    Published on Page A1 of the September 27, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

    CONSOLACION Aniasco Niduelan somehow knew she would find her sister in Cebu.

    Several times in the past 20 years, Aling Cion, as she is called, saved whatever she could from her pay as a street sweeper and bought passage to Cebu. She would get off at the pier.

    But with no idea where to look, she simply wandered around the waterfront for hours, scanning faces in the crowd and hoping one of them would be that of her younger sister, Luz Aniasco Laguna.

    Luz and her husband, Herculano Laguna, had been labor organizers in Davao in the early 1980s.

    They went to Manila for a visit in 1984, telling relatives they were on their way to new jobs in Mandaue, Cebu.

    Aling Cions last contact with the couple was when she saw them off at Manilas North Harbor as they prepared to board the vessel with their then 3-year-old son, Herlo.

    Aling Cion, now 61, has since been searching for the Laguna family. Her search finally came to an end earlier this month when she witnessed the exhumation of what were believed to be the remains of Luz and Herculano Laguna.

    Their unmarked graves were some 50 meters from each other in the mountains of Barangay Bonbon in Cebu City. Apparently, they were victims of the purge within the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) in 1985.

    When the couple were taken and killed, no arrangements were made for their son Herlo, who was left in the care of their laundrywoman.

    Although he grew up with an impoverished squatter family in Mandaue, Herlo earned athletic scholarships and was about to graduate with a degree in education when he was shot to death in a fraternity war last year. He met his end just like his parents -- the object of a senseless and irrational rage.

    Luz and Herculano Laguna were among thousands of cadres and members of the underground movement suspected of being "deep penetration agents" (DPAs) of the military. In a series of purges in the 1980s, the suspected DPAs were arrested and detained. Many were tortured, a practice supposedly forbidden in the communist movement. Hundreds, if not thousands, were executed.

    The CPP, which is waging a "peoples war," Asias longest communist insurgency, later admitted the purges were grievous mistakes and vowed never again to commit them. But by then, many had died and the children left behind, a number of them, forgotten.

    Trade union cadres

    Those who knew them say the Laguna couple belonged to a group of 13 trade union cadres who in 1984 had been transferred to Cebu from Mindanao, which was then in the throes of an anti-DPA campaign called Kampanyang Ahos. (Ahos is Cebuano for garlic, which in Philippine folklore is a potent weapon in warding off aswang [witch or viscera sucker]).

    Suspicion fell on the 13 who were then executed around the same time. The remains of only five of the 13 have so far been exhumed and recovered.

    "I pity them. They were only fighting for change in our society," said a tearful Aling Cion who, with her sister Lita Longanilla, spent a week in a campsite in Bonbon, waiting as forensic experts carefully retrieved every shard of bone from the unmarked graves.

    Forensic anthropologist Jerome Bailen presided over the exhumation, making sure his team recovered every bit of detail needed to reconstruct what he called a "forensic narrative" that would reveal how the Laguna couple died.

    "We have to individualize what we are doing. These are not mass graves exhumed like kamote (sweet potato) diggings, and laid down on anything helter-skelter. We need all the information to build up a case," said Bailen, a professor at the University of the Philippines.

    Healing and justice

    The exhumation was organized by the Peace Advocates for Truth, Healing and Justice (PATH), itself composed mainly of former members of the communist movement who were arrested and tortured during the purges.

    PATH chair Gil Navarro said his groups work was different from the exhumations being done by the military, which has its own agenda.

    PATHs main objective is to "look for and identify the remains of those executed in the purges and return them to relatives still searching up to now," Navarro said. Through informants, PATH locates the sites where purge victims are believed to be buried—a complicated, risky and tedious task.

    Come clean

    PATH wants the CPP to once and for all come clean on what happened, reveal exactly how many people were arrested and killed, and help in exhuming and retrieving the remains. But such a demand would not be easy to meet.

    As far as the Left is concerned, the purges are a thing of the past, errors for which the CPP has already apologized and atoned for.

    "What I know is that for the most part, the purges were declared to be errors because torture was used. Torture is prohibited in the movement. So what happened is that there were victims who were actually innocent," said Representative Satur Ocampo, former spokesperson of the National Democratic Front and now Bayan Muna party-list representative.


    Ocampo added that the CPP Politburo resolved in the late 1980s to reach out to the victims and their families, apologize and offer compensation. Ocampo, however, could not say for certain exactly how many victims were covered by this act of contrition.

    It is difficult to account for everyone who died when the CPP cleansed its ranks of suspected spies. For one, many were known only by assumed names or aliases.

    In other cases, said human rights advocate Ramon Casiple, the executioners themselves became victims as paranoia spread and suspicion implicated even those who were doing the purging.

    More than anything else, the use of torture was the major error during the purge. Ocampo, himself heavily tortured by the military in the 1970s, knows that information obtained through torture is unreliable. Yet the CPP used it to extract information from suspected spies.

    "The logic of self-implication and the pressure to implicate others were the reasons so many were arrested and investigated during the purge. It was done to ease the pain of torture and many innocent comrades were implicated," Ocampo said.

    Polka dot blouse

    More than 20 years later, the signs of torture were still evident on the remains of Luz Aniasco Laguna. Aling Cion fainted at the sight: Hands tied behind Luzs back, ankle and wrist bones bound with blue nylon rope, a strip of denim cloth positioned somewhere near her mouth and neck and, worse, an 18-kilo boulder over her cracked skull.

    Aling Cion said she recognized her sister Luz: She knew so well the polka dot blouse that covered Luzs remains. That blouse, now faded, had a gash apparently made by a bladed weapon over her left breast. Aling Cions physical description of Luz also matched what the forensic experts were able to reconstruct.

    But it was a different story altogether for what were believed to be the remains of Herculano, known to friends as Lando or Lani. Bailen and company had no physical description of him or any photos available, making the process of reconstruction and verification more difficult.


    For now, Aling Cion has no choice but to wait as Bailens team finishes its analysis before scheduling a proper wake and burial for her sister and brother-in-law.

    Despite the pain, however, Aling Cion took home with her one piece of good news from Cebu. Although Luz, Herculano and Herlo are gone, their line continues with 10-month-old Aaron Heaven, the boy Herlo sired before he was shot in March 2005. Aling Cion can only hope that Aaron Heaven will be spared the tragic fate that befell his father and grandparents.

    from ----> CLICK ME
    posted by PATH @ 9/27/2006 03:45:00 PM  
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    About Me

    Name: PATH
    Home: Quezon City, Philippines
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    Where to send your donations and order the book

  • Peace Advocates for Truth, Healing and Justice (PATH) 45 Matimtiman St., cor. Magiting St., Teachers' Village East Quezon City 1101, Philippines Tel. No: (632) 921-8049 Telefax: (632) 926-2893
  • You can also donate to PATH by clicking on the ads below
    The book about the CPP-NPA Purges
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  • "Bobby Garcia provides a riveting account of the Communist Party of the Philippines' "killing fields" and situates it within the context of a revolutionary movement that was nobly motivated but also tragically flawed. To Suffer Thy Comrades goes beyond Garcia's narrative of his and other survivors' harrowing experiences and explains why the purges took place, how both torturers and victims coped and made sense of their plight, and how they survived in the aftermath of the purge. The book sheds light on the darkest and deepest secrets of the revolutionary movement and provides insights that are useful now that the communists are negotiating peace with the government" - SHEILA CORONEL, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
  • "...Bobby Garcia had the courage to write about the 'killing fields' despite some people's efforts to dissuade him. Bobby was one of its victims -- he was 21 when his entire future was nearly taken away from him -- who was lucky enough to survive. And who is even luckier to retain a huge sense of humor and equanimity, even when talking about his ordeal, at least with friends. His book is called "To Suffer Thy Comrades"...It is certainly not something that will set your mind at rest. But read it anyway. Its virtue is to be found in that biblical observation, 'The truth shall set you free.' - CONRADO DE QUIROS, Philippine Daily Inquirer
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