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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    Tuesday, July 03, 2007
    6 EU experts to probe mass graves in Leyte

    By Michael Lim Ubac, TJ Burgonio
    Last updated 01:49am (Mla time) 06/22/2007

    MANILA, Philippines -- The six experts sent by the European Union to investigate the unabated political killings in the country will ascertain whether the mass graves unearthed in Leyte and other provinces by the military held the remains of communist purge victims, Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita said Thursday.

    According to Ermita, the team that he dubbed “the first RP-EU needs-assessment mission” could help explain the proliferation of mass graves in the country because its members were experts in the fields of criminal investigation and prosecution.
    He said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had personally invited the team to come over as part of the EU assistance to the Philippines to solve the political killings.
    The experts arrived in Manila on Monday on a 10-day mission.
    Ermita said ascertaining the authenticity of the mass graves was crucial to government efforts to unmask the masterminds of the “unexplained killings.”

    The government has charged Rep. Satur Ocampo of the militant party-list group Bayan Muna and 51 others in connection with the decades-old purge of suspected military spies in the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), whose purported remains were found by the military in mass graves in the town of Inopacan in Leyte province.

    But the Eastern Visayas chapter of the National Democratic Front, the political arm of the CPP, said the graves were “a hoax which the 8th [Infantry Division] had a hand in making up.”
    Ocampo was arrested and detained on multiple murder charges in March; the Supreme Court allowed him to post bail in April. The main petition seeking to quash the case filed in the lower court is still pending.

    Welcome, but...
    The human rights group Karapatan Thursday suggested that the EU team also meet with the families of the victims of political killings.
    Karapatan secretary general Marie Hilao-Enriquez told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the assistance of the EU experts was “much welcome.”
    “But for it to be meaningful, they should look at the plight of the victims. They should hear them out,” she said.

    Enriquez said that while the European Union was providing all sorts of technical assistance to the Philippine government, it should also look into the latter’s purported policy on the killing and “enforced disappearance” of leftist activists.
    “The government does not lack technical expertise in investigation. For all we know, this is being messed up,” she said, adding:
    “Instead of helping the government alone, the EU should also help the victims. We’ve not gotten a single cent from the government.”

    Karapatan records show that as of May 31, there have been 863 “extrajudicial” killings since 2001, when Ms Arroyo came to power.
    The list of those killed does not include Mario Auxillo, head of the Bohol chapter of Bayan Muna, who was slain in Tagbilaran City on June 17.

    Of the victims, around half were farmers, Karapatan said. The regions where at least 100 had been killed were Bicol, Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog.
    Both the military and Malacañang have denied involvement, saying Oplan Laya I and II -- the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ counterinsurgency plans -- had not institutionalized a policy on the killing of leftist activists.

    Stints in Kosovo, etc.
    Malacañang hosted cocktails on Monday for the experts from the United Kingdom, Finland and Sweden. The reception included a briefing by Cecilia “Coco” Quisumbing of the Presidential Human Rights Committee.
    Ermita said he had a chance to talk with three of them during the reception. “And I can see that they are experts, especially in forensics and crime scene investigation. They have experience in such places as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand and even Kosovo,” he said.
    Ermita said the invitations to the experts were coursed through their respective embassies.
    “We would like them to see for themselves how and what kind of assistance they can give to our investigating agencies, to our prosecuting agencies and even to the courts because of their experience,” he said.

    One issue is the military’s discovery of the mass graves, Ermita said.
    “In our conversation, they said they might be able to help in determining, first, the kind of skeletal remains that have been discovered. [They will] try to see whether there is truth to the allegation that indeed these are subjects of foul play by any group -- whether the military, the police, or the NPA (New People’s Army, the armed wing of the CPP) itself,” he said.
    Ermita said that apart from the technical assistance, the President welcomed such missions because they could lead to increased funding in prosecution and investigation.
    “We hope to get some pledges from them. There are wherewithals that we lack. For example, it can’t be denied that funding is always a problem with us because we are a third-class economy, a Third World country,” Ermita said.

    “We may not have enough for the prosecution of human rights violators. And, of course, they will help us strengthen our techniques of investigation,” he said.
    Malacañang has repeatedly said that the government needed training and equipment for DNA testing, an integral part of criminal investigation.
    On Wednesday, the EU experts met with officials of the Department of Justice to discuss the Witness Protection Program (WPP).

    “They have been informed by the ambassadors here that one of the problems in our prosecution of suspects in the unexplained killings is the hesitation of witnesses to come out,” said Ermita.
    “And, therefore, there is a need to enhance the WPP.”
    On Thursday, they were scheduled to meet with members of the judiciary, “with the end in view of strengthening the prosecution of cases,” he said.

    How to stop killings
    Said Romeo Capulong, legal counsel of the families of victims from Bayan Muna and other progressive groups: “Any form of assistance that will improve the legal system is most welcome. But that will not address the immediate problem.”
    Capulong said the assistance should include “how to stop the unabated executions and abductions.”

    “What should be done now is to extend all forms of assistance to organizations in the Philippines and abroad who are documenting these human rights violations and gathering evidence. Because under the Arroyo administration, it’s a mere illusion that the perpetrators will be brought to justice,” Capulong said.
    He said the EU team should establish a mechanism that would protect witnesses to the human rights violations from “reprisals.”

    Human Security Act
    The European Union has called on the Philippine government to introduce concrete measures to prevent human rights abuse, especially with the implementation next month of the Human Security Act (HSA) of 2007, or the anti-terror law.
    In a resolution adopted by the European Parliament in Strasbourg on April 26, the European Union said the enactment of the HSA was “liable to further increase the incidence of human rights violations by the security forces because it will allow arrests without warrant and arbitrary detention for up to three days.”

    The EU resolution highlighted both the findings of the Malacañang-created Melo Commission and the results of the investigation by UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston, which cited the possible involvement of the military in the political killings.

    posted by PATH @ 7/03/2007 04:31:00 PM  
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    About Me

    Name: PATH
    Home: Quezon City, Philippines
    About Me:
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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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