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 President and rep. Satur Ocampo back in their happier days together
By Paolo Romero The Philippine Star 03/19/2007
The government will ask the United Nations to investigate mass killings allegedly staged by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army (NPA) following reports of mass graves discovered in different parts of the country, MalacaÒang officials said yesterday.
Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales issued the statements in separate interviews after the Arroyo administration came under fire from the United States Senate, which began last week an inquiry into the killings of hundreds of leftist political activists and journalists since 2001.
"The process is ongoing for these cases of mass murder and bloody purges of the CPP-NPA to be filed with the appropriate international bodies," Gonzales told The STAR. "These are crimes against humanity we are talking about."
The Palace officials also chided party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo for being "callous" and "insensitive" to the families of the victims of the murders, which he allegedly masterminded, for claiming that his arrest would be favorable to the electoral campaign for seats in Congress of the left-leaning party-list group Bayan Muna.
They also vowed to oppose efforts by some leftist congressmen to have Ocampo placed under their custody.
Authorities earlier said bloody purges in the communist rebel movement that began since the late 1980s claimed the lives of tens of thousands suspected to be military deep penetration agents under various campaigns such as "Kampanyang Ahos" and "Oplan Zombie."
Gonzales said more suspected mass graves are being uncovered in different parts of the country, including some in rebel-infested Samar island and in Leyte where one, containing 67 skeletal remains, had been dug up and used as evidence to charge and arrest Ocampo.
"Some of the graves uncovered had relatively fresh remains on top of much older ones, indicating that the killings were done in waves using same burial sites," Gonzales said.
Once fully accounted for, the mass graves would be used as evidence against CPP-NPA leaders for action by the United Nations, he said.
He maintained Ocampo’s arrest had nothing to do with elections as the case against him was built after almost a year of investigations and evidence-gathering.
He said some of the forensic studies, including DNA-testing of the remains, which is matched to living relatives, have been done with the help of foreign experts. The government earlier sought the help of the international community for forensic expertise to investigate the spate of killings.
"I hope he stops politicizing the case and using it to benefit his bid to be elected. He even had the gall to say that the gravesite was faked when we have the evidence. This is very insulting and exploitative, especially on the part of the victims, who have pinpointed him as the one who ordered the killings," Gonzales said.
Ermita revealed out of the 67 skeletal remains uncovered in Leyte, 15 have been positively identified and matched to living relatives that included former NPA rebels who were able to escape the bloody purge.
"A crime is a crime is a crime, so the long arm of the law finally caught up with him and he’s trying to take advantage of it," Ermita said as he chided Ocampo for the "callous" statement regarding the impact of the arrest on his campaign.
"I’m not sure if his arrest would really translate to votes but what the people know is that he is charged with a crime and he is the one behind bars," he added.
He also reminded leftist party-list groups to renounce and stop supporting the communist insurgency if they want to stop snowballing moves to revive Republic Act 1700 or the Anti-Subversion Law that legalized the communist movement.
Ermita, who pushed for the repeal of RA 1700 in the mid-1990s as a lawmaker, pointed out that legalizing communism does not mean that communist-led rebellion is also legal.
Earlier, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, head of the US Senate Sub-Committee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said the Arroyo administration must be held responsible for failing to stop the spate of unexplained killings and hinted that the much-needed US aid to the Philippines be tied to the human rights situation in the country.
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