TACLOBAN CITY – Fifteen years after the discovery of the remains of the victims of the Inopacan massacre perpetrated by the New People’s Army (NPA) in the 1980s, more groups are joining the cause to end the atrocities of communist terrorist groups.
Thousands of bikers will join a ride for justice event on Saturday in Leyte and Samar Island and other parts outside Eastern Visayas to raise awareness on NPA purging activities, the Philippine Army said in a press briefing on Friday.
“The dead cannot cry out for justice. It is the duty of the living to do so for them,” Brig. Gen. Zosimo Oliveros, commander of the Army’s 802nd Brigade, said.
He said the Department of the Interior and Local Government issued a memorandum directing field officials to facilitate the cycling event.
“The Regional Task Force on Ending Local Communist Armed Conflict together with bikers and civic groups are working hand in hand to create awareness to the public about the heinous and inhumane crimes by the NPA,” Oliveros added.
Leyte Governor Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said a road project leading to Caulisihan is ongoing while the provincial government will open a memorial park at the mass grave site.
“We will put up a memorial park for people to learn the story. We should take a stand for these people and the park is the best way to immortalize the message,” he said.
On Aug. 28, 2006, the skeletons of 67 individuals were unearthed from shallow graves in Caulisihan village through the help of residents.
The mass purging, tagged by the NPA as Oplan Venereal Disease, claimed the lives of about 300 residents in Leyte province, based on estimates of former rebels and the victims’ relatives.
According to accounts of the military and witnesses, most of the victims bore brutal marks of crushed skulls still wrapped with blindfolding cloth.
They suffered severe flesh wounds and broken bones even before they were shot several times.
After the mass grave discovery, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, under then Chief of Staff and now National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, filed 15 counts of murder before the Manila Regional Trial Court against Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Maria Sison and 37 others for their alleged involvement in the massacre.
Also sued were couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, Satur Ocampo, Vicente Ladlad, Randal Echaniz, Rafael Baylosis, and Exusperado Lloren, among others.
The European Union, through Council Decision 2011/70/CFSP dated Jan. 11, 2011, designated the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization.
The CPP-NPA is also listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the Philippines. (PNA)