Remembering, moving on, 14 years after the Inopacan Mass Grave discovery, exhumation
TACLOBAN CITY, Aug. 27 (PIA) — The Baybay City Task Force – ELCAC and the 14th Infantry Battalion of the 802nd Infantry Brigade, 8th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army, are spearheading the 14th Commemoration of the Inopacan Mass Grave Discovery and Exhumation.
Mayor Jose Carlos Cari said this year’s commemoration will be participated by the families of the Inopacan Atrocity from the four barangays of Baybay City, two barangays of Mahaplag, Leyte and one barangay of Inopacan, Leyte.
It will revolve around the theme “Ika-14 na Tuig sa Paghinumdum sa Gibuhat sa Teroristang NPA” (14th Year of Remembering the Atrocity of the NPA Terrorists).
The activities for this year’s commemoration will start with the offering of the Holy Mass at the Immaculate Conception Parish, Wreath-Laying and Candle Lighting at the Memorial Marker located at the Children’s Park, a short commemorative program and press conference.
Among those who will give their respective messages during the program are Mayor Jose Carlos Cari, Inopacan Mayor Azucena Mirambel, Mahaplag Mayor Daisy Lleve, Lt. Col. Roberto Obaob, commanding officer of the 14th Infantry Division and Brig. General Zosimo Oliveros, commander of the 802nd Brigade of the 8th Infantry Division, PA.
To recall, security forces have unearthed the remains of at least 67 suspected New People’s Army (NPA) rebels and civilians allegedly executed by communist fighters in the 1980s in the province of Leyte on suspicions of being government spies.
No less than then Armed Forces chief Gen. Hermogenes Esperon flew on a Thursday, August 28, 2006, to Leyte to personally inspect the skeletal remains buried in a mass grave in Sitio Sapang Dako, Kaulisihan village in Inopacan town.
The skeletal remains exhumed were part of the military’s campaign against the Evelyn Dublin Command operating in the Eastern Visayas region. All were victims of the communist purge dubbed, “Operation VD,” and the mass grave site was called the “Garden.”
The victims of “Operation VD” were ordered executed by self-exiled Communist Party chair Jose Maria Sison in the mid-80s. The CPP/NPA/NDF in Southern Leyte front implemented its anti-infiltration campaign in the second half of 1980s which resulted in the maltreatment, torture and summary execution of more than a hundred innocent CPP and NPA members suspected of being deep-penetration agents and innocent civilians suspected of being government informers. Information leading to the grave site was provided by former rebel fighters who have returned to mainstream society and family members of the victims.
Last year, a case has been filed against Sison, National Democratic Front (NDF) chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni and Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo in “Operation VD, among others.
During the 2019 Commemoration on September 29, a Special Convergence Mission was conducted by the Regional Task Force 8-ELCAC, Leyte Provice Task Force- ELCAC, Baybay City Task Force-ELCAC, Inopacan Task Force-ELCAC and Mahaplag Task Force-ELCAC, attended by no less than National Task Force-ELCAC Vice Chair and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr., and RTF8-ELCAC and Cabinet Officer for Regional Development and Security for Eastern Visayas, Secretary Eduardo del Rosario.
The convergence called for the whole-of-nation approach in helping the families of the victims of the Inopacan Atrocity who after 34 years continue to grieve for their love ones, fathers, husbands, brothers and who remained loyal to the government despite what happened to their love ones.
Since then, various interventions were provided to the families who were organized into seven farmer organizations, provided trainings and financial assistance to start their livelihood projects. It is a moving on time for these families as they strengthen their resolve never again will they be victimized by the NPA terrorists. (PIA-8)