Friday, January 23, 2015

Army unearths remains of two NPA liquidation victims in Leyte

From the Philippine News Agency (Jan 23): Army unearths remains of two NPA liquidation victims in Leyte

After 30 years of searching, 43-year-old Bartolome Custodio found the remains of his father Lolieto in a shallow grave discovered on the outskirts of this town today.

He can still recall how a group of armed rebels forcibly took his 38-year-old father away while farming in Mag-aso village in La Paz, Leyte.

“They forcibly asked my father to go with them because the rebels believed that he’s involved in military intelligence,” Bartolome recalled. He was 13 when the abduction happened.

In a shallow grave in the middle of coconut and abaca plantation, the Philippine Army and Philippine National Police formally exhumed the skeleton with feet still tied up and skull with blindfold cloth.

Few meters away, authorities also unearthed the remains of Necostrates Novio from San Antonio village of this town. Necostrates’ son Reynaldo, 59 broke out into tears when he saw the same shirt worn by his father in August 1984.

Reynaldo recalled that his father was abducted while hiking to a nearby village to join a fiesta celebration more than three decades ago.

“I know that remains belong to my father. It’s the same shirt and pants he wore when I last saw him. We have been searching for him for 30 years. We even joined CAFGU (Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit) so we could easily find him,” he told reporters.

Sr. Insp. John C. Ilao, Philippine National Police regional medico legal officer said they will conduct an autopsy to find out the real cause of deaths of Novio and Custodio.

“We will conduct a thorough investigation before turning over the skeleton to the family. We will see any signs of trauma by studying bones if it got hit by bullets or pointed objects,” the police official said.

San Vicente village believed as one of the armed rebels’ killing fields in 1980s is about 20 kilometers away from the town center, traversing a long stretch of bumpy and hilly road.

The army held the formal exhumation in the presence of local government officials, police scene of the crime operatives, Commission on Human Rights, and religious sector.

Col. Dinoh Dolina, commander of Philippine Army’s 802nd Brigade based in Ormoc City said they have been encouraging villagers to report possible burial place New People’s Army summary killing victims.

“We have been working with communities to help families find the bodies of their love ones. These people need closure while those executed should be given a decent burial,” Dolina said.

The military believed that the NPA liquidated 300 individuals in Leyte. In 2006, at least 67 remains of summary killing victims were dug up in Inopacan, Leyte.

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