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.
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.
The Remains of a Life:"Missing Link" in the Southern Tagalog Purge
Tata Mianong (right foreground) & Aling Maring
Jose "Joker" Paner
Aling Maring and Tata Mianong
Aling Maring Paner
'Yan ba ang isusukli sa asawa ko? Pumunta kayo sa aming bayan, tanungin niyo itong Maximiano Paner, kung anong klase ng pagkatao. Halos aming kinakain ipamimigay niya na sa mga tao…halos buhay niya ibibigay sa kilusan…'Yan ba ang isusukli sa amin?
-Merlinda "Aling Maring" Paner-
The widow of the top suspect in the CPP-NPA-NDF's Oplan Missing Link in 1988 cannot understand why his executioners deny her right to his remains. Maximiano Paner left home on July 17, 1988 and never returned. She traveled far, searching desperately. His tormented spirit came to her in dreams, crying out for help. Eight long years later, Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal, NPA spokesman of the Melito Glor Command, offered the widow his condolences and a vague promise.
Merlinda "Aling Maring" Paner, now in her 70s, still lives in the modest bungalow that once teemed with revolutionaries. As we sit around the table on a terrace at the back of the house, she points towards a spot near the ground. That used to be a basement, she says. A typewriter and a mimeographing machine churned furiously there. After her husband disappeared she had the basement filled up, like a grave after burial of the dead.
She speaks softly, even in her anger. Her voice quavers. Tears spring up as she remembers her husband but there is no outpouring. She no longer wonders where her husband's body was dumped. Yet she laments bitterly, "Bakit siya pinatay? Anong pagkakasala niya?" Her sons Jose and Ricardo are silent. They have heard this cry before, echoing down the years of tragedy and survival...
About the Author ("Flor Caagusan was active in the NATDEM cultural movement in Metro Manila from the mid-60s up to the early 80s, although detained by the ISAFP in 1974.")
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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
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The book about the CPP-NPA Purges
"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