The Manila Times : Most alleged 'human rights victims killed' were NPA and MNLF/MILF guerrillas

18 March 2022

By Rigoberto Tiglao | The Manila Times

Third of 4 parts

TO be precise, some 77 percent, or 1,786 of the 2,326 "alleged human rights victims" killed during martial law — their heirs given compensation of P3.2 billion, or P1.8 million for each case — were very likely casualties of the New People's Army (NPA) and the two Muslim separatist groups, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

This is according to data given by Carmelo Victor A. Crisanto, who claims he is the executive director of a no-longer-existing Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB).

He wrote the newspaper to correct my "inappropriate" computation done in my column of March 7, which had a somewhat higher figure of NPA, MILF and MNLF casualties of 2,755. (See accompanying table.)

Crisanto though claimed that his office or the HRVCB "never released any data identifying any province as an 'NPA Province' or an 'MILF Province'."

Of course it hasn't, but Crisanto did release the locations where the alleged "extrajudicial killing" or "disappearance" occurred. It didn't take much of an average Filipino's common stock of knowledge and IQ to recognize, after puzzling over the uneven distribution of killings, that provinces like Cagayan, Isabela and Samar as well as the Davao provinces were epicenters of the communist insurgency while Sultan Kudarat and Maguindanao had been the MILF and MNLF areas of operation in the 1970s and 1980s.

A quick but logical way to determine how many were the NPA and the MNLF/MILF casualties during martial is to compare the figure to the official data of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on its soldiers killed fighting the insurgents

AFP casualties

According to the AFP, 7,077 of its soldiers were killed by the NPA and the MNLF/MILF from 1975 to 1985. Using even this conservative figure (which doesn't include data for 1972-1974), NPA-MNLF/MILF casualties should at least be the same or even much more, or else they would have defeated the republic. Thus, if the insurgent casualties were just on par with the military, they would have 7,077 of their guerrillas killed at the very least — which means they managed to report as HR victims only the lower figure of 1,786 or my 2,755 estimate.

Many of those in the Claims Board's list are very easily identifiable as NPA officers, or CPP cadres attempting to organize an armed communist rebellion in the hinterlands, among them Menardo Arce and Melito Glor both of whom the NPA has honored as their great commanders by naming their guerrilla fronts after them; the two Quimpo brothers, Ronald and Ishmael, whose activities as NPA organizers their brother Nathan described in detail in his book; Vladimir Hurtada; the poet-guerrilla Eman Lacaba; and PMA mutineer Antonio Tagamolila.

This list includes such activists who chose armed rebellion as Lorena Barros, Antonio Hilario and Eugene Grey, as well as Ateneans Ferdinand Arceo, Billy Begg and Edgar Jopson. I knew them personally and admire their commitment and courage: I'm sure none of them — like the legendary commander Bernabe Buscayno ("Kumander Dante") — would agree to be called "human rights" victims, as they chose to live a life of existential authenticity. They were convinced of the Marxist cause, and chose to risk their lives for it.

How did these revolutionaries get to be human rights victims in the government's list, their heirs to be given P3.2 billion?

RA 10368

President Aquino 3rd pushed for Congress to pass in 2013 Republic Act 10368, or the "Act Providing for Reparation and Recognition of Victims of Human Rights Violations During the Marcos Regime." The Communist Party of the Philippines threatened Aquino at that time that it would not resume peace talks unless such a law was passed.

The law's provisions in effect made the government recognize officially as "victims of human rights violations" members of the Communist Party and its New People's Army (and in lesser numbers the two Muslim separatist groups) who waged war to topple the Republic, and in the process were killed in firefights, captured or imprisoned.

Not only that, it ordered "reparations' to be paid to the alleged victims or their heirs, ranging from P1.8 million for those killed and P180,000 to 2,739 "exiles" the lowest form of "human rights violations. They were actually middle-class former activists who migrated (in many cases forced by parents angry at their activism) to the US and Canada. Contrary to views that the compensation funds for this came from the strongman Marcos' alleged stolen wealth that the Swiss banks ordered to be remitted to the country, the law ordered the P10 billion from the government (i.e., taxpayers) budget be used for the compensations.

The law authorized the Human Rights Victims Claims Board that it had ordered to organize to determine the authenticity of the claims of the HR victims during martial law.

However, the law also had a provision for the recognized "claimants in the class suit and direct action plaintiffs in the Human Rights Litigation Against the Estate of Ferdinand E. Marcos in the US Federal District Court of Honolulu, Hawaii" to be automatically in the Claims Board's list

Bases agreement

The US fully supported that class suit only starting in 1989, three years after Jose Ma. Sison himself, former activist and Ninoy's legislative assistant Fluellen Ortigas, and several other former CPP cadres who migrated to the US such as Kabataang Makabayan leader Vicente Clemente filed their cases in March 1986. The courts had dismissed those suits since the US (and most countries) had the legal doctrine of sovereign immunity — that heads of foreign states cannot be tried in the US for crimes committed in their own countries.

After having been told that prosecuting Marcos was Cory Aquino's quid pro quo for pushing for the extension of the US Military Bases Agreement, which was to expire in 1992, the US executive branch pushed the courts to reverse the earlier rulings and prosecute Marcos. (The Senate though ended that agreement anyway, 12 to 11.) Cory claimed that this necessary to block Marcos from returning to mount a counter-revolution in the Philippines by tapping into his wealth deposited in Swiss banks,

The class suit was inarguably a kangaroo court: it took only three weeks to complete, the judge prevented Marcos' lawyers from presenting witnesses and cross-examining the accusers; it only had a six-person jury, only three of which had completed college that some thought the Philippines was Paraguay in Latin America, and it was made a class action civil case instead of a criminal case which requires a higher standard of evidence. Most crippling was the judge's order to the defense never to allege that the accusers were Communist Party cadres. Thus, CPP founder Sison was not identified as such but presented merely as one of those who protested the imposition of martial law in the Philippines, and was incarcerated for several years.

It was solely the communist front Task Force Detainees — not even the Amnesty International — which gave to the court the list of the alleged human rights victims, who were in reality mostly NPA-MILF/MNLF cadres and guerrillas killed in battling the AFP or who were arrested on the ground that they were part of the conspiracy to overthrow the government.

What should prove inarguably that it was entirely a kangaroo court to convict Marcos so that he could not tap his alleged wealth is the following: the accusers' claim, which the six-person jury upheld, that it was Marcos himself who personally ordered the alleged human rights violations.

Thus, the defense was blocked from explaining the fact that it was his Defense secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Philippine Constabulary chief Fidel Ramos who ran almost entirely the police and military that administered martial law. Absurdly, one "fact" the accusers presented was that it was Marcos himself who "interrogated" Sison when he was captured in 1977. The reality of course was it was simply a photo-ops in which Marcos was shown talking to Sison, his propaganda that he had broken the back of the communist insurgency.

Fraudulent

The court though took three years to identify and recognize the alleged human rights victims, which initially totaled 10,234, but reduced to 7,000, and to an even lower number, after investigators found massive fraudulent claims. The court ordered the payment to the victims of damages of $1.2 billion, to be taken from the alleged Marcos deposits in Swiss banks and from other assets that may be identified elsewhere. The Philippine Supreme court, however, ruled that the Swiss deposits, which had been put in escrow in a local government bank, could not be distributed to the alleged victims, but would have to be turned over to the national treasury.

Marcos was convicted for personally ordering the mistreatment of 7,000 human rights victims. Not many Filipinos to this day recognize the bureaucratic impossibility of that happening. There is no document found that shows that Marcos ordered such violations. The records on the contrary show that the Defense Department and Philippine Constabulary ordered mechanisms in place, such as an AFP command in charge of all detained under martial law provisions, headed by defense undersecretary Jose Crisol, a much respected figure during that era.

Thus is the history of how the CPP-NPA and its allies the MILF and the MNLF managed to put their people killed in battle or captured, into the list of a government agency, the Human Rights Victims Claims Board, which has claimed that these are human rights victims, requiring compensation paid out of taxpayers' money.

Thanks to two Yellow presidents, the Philippines is the first country ever to pay those who tried to overthrow its government violently, killing over 7,000 of its soldiers, over P10 billion, a part of which I would surmise is recycled into the treasury of the CPP-NPA, to continue its rebellion.

Atrocious.

Postscript

The Human Rights Victims Claims Board, of which Mr. Crisanto in his letter claimed he was "Executive Director," ended its existence on May 12, 2018 per RA 10368 as amended by RA 10766. He must be referring to the "Human Rights Violations Victims Memorial Commission," whose task is to build a P500 million commission in the UP Diliman campus purportedly honoring the victims of Marcos during martial law. It is in reality an edifice to institutionalize the Reds and Yellows demonization of Marcos.

Whatever Crisanto's post is, he should be fired for violating the Civil Service Code of Conduct which requires public officials to respond to a citizen's query 15 days from its receipt. That is legally an instance of graft. I emailed Mr. Crisanto November 16 last year requesting access to the Claims Board's data, which was transferred to the Memorial Commission. He had not responded at all. His letter questioning my column was sent March 16, 2022, addressed to the Manila Times, and not to me.