Former Philippine communist rebels who were tortured by their comrades during a "purge" of suspected spies 17 years ago vowed Friday to file criminal and other charges against their tormentors. "It's now time for the courts to judge these crimes against humanity," said Robert Francis Garcia, a former student activist who joined the communist New People's Army in the 1980s.
Garcia and another former party member, Rogel Navarro, and the son of a couple killed by the rebels told a news conference that they would file charges. The campaign against military "deep penetration agents" between February 1988 and January 1989 in Laguna province near Manila and several other "left purges" are considered the darkest moments of the 36-year insurgency in the Philippines.
Garcia said about 2,000 innocent rebels and supporters were tortured and killed in about 10 such campaigns around the country in the 1980s when the NPA reached its peak strength of about 26,000 fighters. The military says rebel ranks were reduced to about 8,000 following a split in the party, battle losses and surrenders. The rebels, who are on U.S. and European lists of terrorists, suspended talks on ending the insurgency last year. The mainstream Communist Party of the Philippines has acknowledged that the "indiscriminate arrest, cases of torture and execution of comrades suspected of being enemy infiltrators was hysteria in its extreme, and a grave error."
In various documents and statements by rebel leaders and spokesmen, the party said it had launched an internal "rectification movement" to prevent a repeat of the bloody purges. It said those responsible were expelled from the party or demoted in rank, and formal apologies, and in some cases compensation, were offered to some victims' families.
However, Garcia said, "This issue is not yet finished." He demanded that the communist leadership inform all the victims' families about what happened, return the remains of those killed, and that those directly involved in torture and killings be brought to court, informs the AP. N.U.