Massacre trial, chance for Sison, cohorts to defend themselves

National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. considered the ongoing murder trial for 15 counts of murder against Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria “Joma” Sison a good time for him and other accused to defend themselves in court.

“Sison’s trial for 15 counts of murder for the Inopacan massacre is an opportune time for him to exhaust all the legal and constitutional rights afforded to him by the very democracy he wishes to destabilize even as he enjoys luxuries in the Netherlands,” he said in a statement forwarded to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) Wednesday.

Esperon, who is also National Security Council (NSC) chief, said Sison and others accused of this heinous crime are now given the opportunity to stand in court; to present their defense, and respond to the accusations against them.

The Inopacan massacre in Leyte is part of the CPP-New People’s Army (NPA)’s nationwide purging of their ranks of suspected government spies conducted from 1984 to 1986.

In the Visayas, the purge was named “Oplan Venereal Disease” wherein 300 suspected government assets within the organization were arbitrarily sentenced and executed in Leyte alone.

In 2006, the Army’s 802nd Infantry Brigade of the Samar-based 8th Infantry Division discovered a mass grave of NPA members in Inopacan where 103 remains were recovered, of which only 15 were identified by their relatives and former communist terrorists who turned witnesses.

On November 16, Esperon testified before the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 32 against Sison and his cohorts regarding the massacre.

“This hearing has allowed us in the security sector an avenue to present numerous pieces of evidence that Sison and his co-accused are accountable for the Inopacan massacre and that he has been orchestrating the activities of the CPP-NPA all along,” he added.

Esperon added that a video had been presented attesting to the massacre, which for the longest time has been in the public sphere.

He recalled that he had caused the filling of mass murder cases against Sison and his accomplices when he was then Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief.

“I have likewise presented an album of photos detailing the manner in which the victims were brutally executed,” Esperon said, adding that the victims of this senseless purge were arbitrarily sentenced and executed in Leyte.

“There are many more atrocities that their so-called ‘revolutionary movement’ have to be held accountable for,” Esperon said.

He added that people who decimated in the mass purges of the communist terrorists were individuals who shared the CPP-NPA advocacy but were summarily executed upon mere suspicion of collaborating with the government. 

Esperon said no one deserves death in the hands of his own brothers much less their supposed “comrades-in-arms”.

“I now dare say that it is such an unfathomable kind of evil too, in the multi-awarded author and former rebel Bobby Garcia’s words, Suffer Thy Comrades, a book he wrote based on personal accounts of the mass murders conducted within the ranks of the CPP-NPA,” he added.

Garcia was himself a victim and witness of the CPP-NPA purge.

Esperon said the CPP is inextricably tied to the NPA, wherein the CPP acts as the head and the NPA functions as its limbs.

“As it stands today, the Party continues to command its armed wing through the NPA, and its legal struggle through its front organizations. In fact, the CPP-NPA remains to be the primary political threat and hindrance to peace and prosperity in the country, most particularly in the countryside,” he added.

But with dwindling political clout, high-profile surrenders, well-documented revelations, and international cognizance of their true criminal and terrorist nature, the truly heinous nature of the movement is now exposed.

“It is relevant to mention that the CPP-NPA is listed as a terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council under Resolution No. 1373 of 2001. Governments of the European Union, the United States, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia have likewise classified them as terrorists,” Esperon said. 

More importantly, the figurehead and the de facto chairman of the CPP-NPA, Sison, is listed as a terrorist individual by the governments of Canada and Australia, he added.

Contrary to claims by the CPP-NPA, the government upholds the accused’s rights as guaranteed by the Constitution and the regularity of the judicial process. 

“It is our intent for the truth to come out. In this instance, it is solely the court which possesses the competency and authority to decide on the merits of the case and, correspondingly, the liability of those involved,” Esperon said.

He added that contrary to Sison’s claims, the government does not play dirty or fabricate lies against the accused.

“This government respects the integrity and impartiality of the judicial proceedings as well as their right to due process; hence our clamor for the trial to proceed without delay,” Esperon said, adding that it has been close to two decades since he filed this case in 2006.

He added that he is beholden to the victims and the families they left behind to seek justice for their grief and despair.

“In the same light, I urge Chairman Sison, who is now in his twilight years, to contemplate on his actions as the longstanding Chairman of the CPP-NPA. With certainty, it can be stated that he and the CPP-NPA have caused decades of misery and suffering to the country, and in particular, to his former comrades and their families,” Esperon said.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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