I belong to an organization called Peace Advocates for Truth, Healing and Justice (PATH), a group made up of survivors of the CPP-NPA purges. (In law school, I did a paper on the Armed Left and interviewed Bobby Garcia, a purge survivor. He’s since been one of my super closest friends and knows all the nasty juicy trippy details of my life.) ANYWAY, I was asked to come up yesterday with PATH’s statement on the arrest of Satur Ocampo for his purported involvement in the purges. Here’s what I came up with:
Victim-centered and reform-oriented justice. This is the continued clamor of Peace Advocates towards Truth, Healing and Justice (PATH) in light of reports that a warrant of arrest has been issued against Satur Ocampo for his participation in the CPP-NPA Purges.
While the victims of the purges have long sought a just resolution to the issue and accountability from the perpetrators, the timing and manner of the government’s brand of “justice” renders it suspect and does grave disservice to the memories of the victims. We fear that the hate and paranoia that drive the government and its agencies to go against the leadership of CPP-NPA and Bayan Muna is of the same variety as the hate and paranoia that we have suffered from in the past and continue to rally against to this day.
The issue of the purges is one of paramount importance not only to us but to any democratic society that values human rights. To reduce it to a “card” to be brandished in games of political survival and one-upmanship is to devalue its lessons and recreate the culture of violence that precisely allowed the killings of the past to take place.
This is in no way to absolve the perpetrators of any liability. However, the victims deserve a credible ruling — one that has been reached through a process devoid of any other agenda but the truth. We call for due process for the accused, but continue to stand firm in our quest for justice and accountability.
I dont really plan on making a habit out of posting the stuff I write for my various advocacies in this blog, but Bob and I had quite a long discussion yesterday sa YM over it, and it did give me some pause. Over the past several months, government has been using the purges as a strategy to decimate the NDF/Bayan Muna ranks. Over the past several months as well, entirely out of our own efforts and initiatives, PATH has been able to locate grave sites (not in Leyte, but in Cebu) and exhume skeletal remains of purge victims. Some members of civil society have said, “ang pangit naman ng timing ng Cebu exhumation.” I remember flinching when a human rights lawyer actually told me, “parang sintunado kayo.” Isip-isip ko lang, tell that to the sister of Luz, gnashing her teeth and wailing loudlly upon seeing for the first time the condition of her sister’s remains — hogtied, gagged, stabbed, with a bullethole discovered in her stomach and huge slab of stone smashed against her face.
Exhume. Expose. Enrage. Though the heavens may fall.
But this Leyte thing, to my mind is a little different. Who filed the charges and when? To what end? Bobby and I asked ourselves the provocative question yesterday: does it matter? Does motive matter? Bobby said, “kung ang isang babaeng biktima ng domestic violence, gustong kumita ng pera kaya nagsampa ng kaso, ibig sabihin ba noon, invalid na yung kanyang claim?” Sabi ko naman,”kung ako na-rape na walang katarungang nakamit, tapos tumatakbong mayor yung nag-rape sa akin, tapos yung kalaban niyang tumatakbo din ay nilabas na rapist siya at pinakulong.. parang bad trip naman yon. I will not have my tragedy used as political capital.”
Ive been thinking about it and I realize, hindi ko alam. I don’t have the answers. Hard to navigate our way through this muck of historical wounds and current-day evils. The only thing Im sure of is that after this election fever, after this political olympiad, the slime-throwing and “rebel”-rousing, Aling Cion and Aling Lita, loved ones of Luz Aniasco, will still be grieving. And thousands of other victims’ families will still be waiting.