Posted by: Jae | March 9, 2007

My tragedy, your election victory

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.


Responses

  1. wow, after reading this entry, i just realized how ignorant i am about this issue of leftist purges. i just can’t help but be puzzled “why” they do that? in the same way that the government/military

    at any rate, although it seems to be “unethical” to use one’s tragedy as a political capital, i do think it is still valid to expose the realities about these issues against a political enemy who seemingly tolerates this kind of violence. about the satur issue, ewan ko, i can’t answer, kasi i don’t fully understand it din. hehehe

  2. hahaha di pala kumpleto yung first paragraph ko… i’ll just leave it hanging na lang.

  3. 😦 Masyado pa rin talaga tayong mabait. Iniisip pa rin natin lagi kung ano ang iisipin ng iba.

    Mahirap ang desisyon na iyan kasi most of the time we are confronted with tensions between politics and values. At a personal level, when this tension arises I let my values win over politics. I see values as any thing, any principle, any person, any event that are important to me — my standard for happiness and the good life.

    I know that PATH is a non-partisan organisation; it is only partisan to the ideals of peace, truth, healing, and justice. The thing is that the ubiquity of politics is a matter of fact. And so we are always compelled to make political decisions.

    The question of timing is very important and must be a reason to deal with the issue with utmost care. But I think in the final analysis PATH exists ‘for’ the victims of the purges and the ideals they deem non-negotiable. The members are to decide and I am confident they won’t make a decision if their hearts are not strong — given the personal and political consequences of such a decision. The quest for peace, truth, healing, and justice always comes into conflict with the malicious politics that we have.

    If we listen to what the perpetrators will have to say, we will end up working for them, and our advocacies will be their idea. We will end up forgetting about the sweat, blood and lessons we have cultivated over the years. But if we listen to our hearts we will satisfy the overwhelming clamour for peace, truth, healing, and justice we hold so dearly for a peaceful, truthful, healed, and just society!

  4. Bonn: You are absolutely right. Values first. That’s the only way we can stay on top of things and not get caught up in the vagaries of politics. Halimbawa, due process. Pinagkaitan nito ang ating mga kasama noong panahon ng purgahan, and yet we will demand from the State that it applies the highest standards of due process kina Satur. Principles ARE bigger than people. Are we working for those who have wronged us? Of course not. Will we be forgetting the lessons cultivated over the years? I don’t think so. To my mind, we would be honoring those lessons. Minsan, ganun nalang dapat ano? Listen to your heart. Trust your gut. And do what it is that makes you sleep best at night.🙂

    Chrisgel: Ako din, wala akong alam dati. Nalaman ko lang dahil sa SLR natin. Youre right, dapat din iexpose yung mga ganung atrocities. The reason you havent heard of it is dahil kulang na kulang talaga ang pagdisseminate ng information about the purges, considering na ito ay malawakang killing fields that have claimed the lives of thousands. PATH has tirelessly been on this crusade for several years now. Ayan na nga, nakapag-exhume na, nakalabas na sa print and broadcast media, nag-eexplore din ng mga legal mechanisms. Mahirap lang talaga, ang daming forces at play, may realpolitik to contend with. But trust that we wont stop. Hinding hindi titigil.🙂

    p.s. labo nga ng hanging sentence.

  5. Hi Jae,

    My solidarity to your cause. And hopefully, there’s an end to supposed kindness in your ranks.

    Village Tickler

  6. […] Fourth, the military is riding only on the sole effort and initiatives by members of Peace Advocates for Truth and Justice (PATH), organized for the purpose of achieving justice to the victims of communist purge, and it’s advocacy is being maliciously used to decimate the ranks of NDF/Bayan Muna to which the group issued a denial. […]


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