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.
Posted by: Isa Lorenzo on 6 February 2007 at 7:27 pm
IT’S with President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who has yet to release it to the public.
For the time being, people have had to rely on statements issued by members of the Melo Commission.
One of the major findings of the 89-page report is that military commanders are mainly responsible for extra-judicial killings. Majority of the victims were leftist activists.
Retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan is among the officers mentioned in the report, according to former Supreme Court justice Jose Melo, who heads the fact-finding commission.
The military perpetrators were soldiers who participated in political killings without supervision from their commanding officers, Melo added.
Other perpetrators of extra-judicial killings include politicians and the security guards of some landlords.
Citing the principle of command responsibility, the report held Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon and other officers responsible for the spate of political killings. However, the report did not hold President Arroyo likewise responsible, even though she is the commander-in-chief of the AFP.
According to a report from Newsbreak, the Melo report also recommends the creation of an independent civilian unit within the AFP that will focus on investigating human rights complaints against members of the military, strengthening the government’s witness protection program, and enhancing the quality of evidence submitted by the police.
Various sectors have scored the government and military’s efforts to address the spate of extra-judicial killings. Archbishop Angel Lagdameo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, said in a statement that the CBCP found the government and military’s response ” most unsatisfactory.” Lagdameo added that people should demand for a “greater and more effective performance of their duties as guardians and protectors of our peace.”
Leftist groups and leaders have assailed the Melo report. “The report merely scratches the surface and tells us what we already know, said Bayan Muna representative Teodoro Casiño. Casiño added that the military’s counter-insurgency policies such as Oplan Bantay Laya “are crucial in allowing the likes of Palparan to wreak terror on a national scale.”
Palparan, meanwhile, insisted that none of the killings were committed by soldiers under his command.
Arroyo has said that she would seek help from the European Union in order to assist the Melo commission in continuing its work. The EU is among the numerous members of the international community who have repeatedly expressed their alarm at the continued spate of political killings.
Yet the government’s invitation to other countries to participate in the Melo commission’s investigation is questionable, when the credibility of the commission remains in doubt, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel said in a statement.
Pimentel added that Malacañang officials have admitted that the Melo report is incomplete and one-sided because it focuses only on the testimonies of military and police generals, and does not present the side of the witnesses and relatives of victims of political killings.
The Melo commission was formed last August in response to the outcry against extra-judicial killings. It completed its report in four months, just before President Arroyo was due to visit Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.
The leftist umbrella alliance Bagong Alyansang Makabayan believes that the report’s release was purposely timed with Arroyo’s trip, in order to soften international condemnation toward the killings.
Yet until the Melo report is released in its entirety, both the international community and the Filipino people can dig no deeper than the statements made by members of the Melo commission and by those who have apparently read it.
Or will it go the way of another controversial fact-finding report — the Mayuga report, which probed into charges of fraud during the May 2004 elections, and which has also yet to be released in its entirety? The Mayuga report cleared the four generals mentioned in the “Hello, Garci” tapes and remained silent on other top military officials that had also been linked to allegations of cheating.
Critics argue that it is pointless to create fact-finding bodies if their findings and recommendations are never released to the public. Pimentel says that it is ludicrous for President Arroyo to order the Melo commission to continue its investigation when she has not bothered to release the Melo report.
They agree that in order for the merits of the Melo report to be adequately analyzed and adjudged, its contents must be fully disclosed.
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
"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