BY DABET CASTANEDA
Of the 601 victims of political killings in the last five years, many were felled by motorcycle-riding assasins. The Armed Forces of the Philippines claims a “purge” within the revolutionary movement is to be blamed. But human rights watch groups point to death squads formed under Oplan Bantay Laya, the Arroyo government’s counterinsurgency program.
CITY OF SAN FERNANDO – In the evening of May 13, two burly men on a motorcycle went to the Mercy Videoke Bar, one small sing-along bar in front of the San Miguel Corporation Brewery in Quebiawan village here, some 45 km. north of Manila.
The bar’s owner, Blessie, 44, said in an interview with Bulatlat that the men went around the bar joints asking for “Kong Boy” (Kong is the short term for Koyang, Pampango word for Kuya or older brother).
“Kong Boy” is Blessie’s husband Manuel Nardo, 40, an electrician and an SMB contractual worker. He was village coordinator of the party-list group Bayan Muna (People First), and was active in mass actions. He joined protests against the rehabilitation of the North Luzon Railways (NorthRail Project), one of the flagship projects of the Arroyo administration in Central Luzon.
Nardo was also known as a close friend of Roman Polintan, chair of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan or New Patriotic Alliance) in Central Luzon. Blessie said for many years, her husband usually drove Polintan to his appointments using Nardo’s motorcycle.
The two men who visited Nardo on the night of May 13 left when told that Nardo was not around.
Blessie said they went back, riding the same motorcycle at 9:30 p.m. the next night, and finally met Nardo.
The unsuspecting Nardo invited the two inside. Blessie, who was looking out from the window, said Nardo was two steps ahead of the men as he led them inside the bar.
But before Nardo could get in, Blessie heard gunshots. As she rushed out, she saw her husband bloodied and lying prone on the ground.
She then saw Nardo’s assailants casually board their motorcycle and drove towards the highway. Blessie rushed her husband to the hospital but he was dead on arrival.
Reacting quickly to Nardo’s death, the Philippine National Police (PNP) formed Task Force Usig and named Deputy Director General Avelino Razon as head. In his media statements, Razon said the task force would investigate the escalating incidents of killings of what the government called “Left-wing activists” or “militants.”
The task force has documented 122 killings of activists during the Arroyo administration. It claimed that military or paramilitary units were suspects in 25 of those cases while 13 deaths were the handiwork of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as part of its so-called “purge.”
In its official website, the Philippine Revolution Web Central, the CPP admitted to a purge within its ranks in the mid-1980s, through its nationwide campaign to flush out suspected deep penetration agents in the revolutionary movement.
CPP documents admitted having made grave errors in implementing the anti-DPA campaign, which resulted in human rights abuses and violation of the rights of individual and due process.
The campaign was officially ended in 1992 when the “Second Great Rectification Movement” was launched to correct the Party’s “Left-opportunist” errors.
In his recent statements to media, CPP spokesperson Gregorio “Ka Roger” Rosal condemned government claims that the spate of political killings is part of yet another purge in the CPP. He said these claims were just used “to prop up their psywar offensive.”