Military insists on purge story

Published by rudy Date posted on February 22, 2007

THE Armed Forces on Wednesday insisted that the hundreds of murders of activists are products of an ongoing purge within the ranks of the communist underground movement.

The AFP Public Information chief, Lt. Col. Bartolome Bacarro, said that the military has enough documents and evidence tagging the New People’s Army (NPA) as behind in the killings.

“We have documents to show that in the NPA there has been purging; as a matter of fact they have admitted that before,” Bacarro told reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

The AFP official said that the NPA has already apologized to the families of the victims of the “internal” purging, which the military says spanned decades.

However, Bacarro refused to comment on the statement of UN Special Rapportuer, Philip Alston, that the military is in a state of denial over the extrajudicial killings.

“We cannot comment on that. . . . We cannot contest that because that is his opinion . . . it will be the executive who will be commenting on that. It’s beyond the AFP to comment right now,” Bacarro said.

The official said the AFP has fully cooperated with the UN investigator, with members of the European Union team and with investigation done by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

Citing the report of PNP Task Force Usig, Bacarro said only four AFP personnel were involved in over hundreds of cases of killings recorded since the Arroyo administration took to power in 2001.

The PNP spokesman, Chief Supt. Samuel Pagdilao Jr., took exception to Alston’s remarks that the police investigation relied heavily on witness statements and disregarded forensics, saying the Crime Laboratory Service (CLS) of the PNP forms part of Task Force Usig.

He said Alston confirmed police claims that some of the killings are attributable to the local communist movement.

Task Force Usig commander and Director for Investigation and Detective Management Chief Supt. Geary Barrias said the police would continue to use the phrase “unexplained killings” because the phrase “extrajudicial killings” hints at a systematic pattern sanctioned by higher authorities.

“There is no proof of that and we would rather use “unexplained” at this point,” Barrias told The Manila Times.

Task Force Usig insisted that Oplan Bushfire is genuine.

“We have filed cases against NPA [New People’s Army] personalities who did the killings where victims are suspected to have absconded from the movement,” Barrias said. –Anthony Vargas and JeaNnette Andrade, Manila Times

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