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Esperon dares Joma Sison to face trial

NATIONAL Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon has challenged Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) founder Jose Maria Sison to prove his innocence in the so-called Inopacan massacre and explain why he should not be held accountable for the misery and suffering of his members.

Esperon recently took the witness stand at the Manila Trial Court Branch 32 as the government’s 29th and final witness against Sison’s murder case in connection with the massacre in Inopacan, Leyte about 30 years ago.

On August 28, 2006 patrolling soldiers discovered a mass grave in Mt. Sapang Dako in Inopacan, Leyte containing 103 remains. Of this number, only 15 were identified by their relatives and former comrades in the NPA.

Then Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Esperon filed cases against Sison, his wife Juliet, and 36 others. They are now facing 15 counts of murder before the MTC under Judge Thelma Bunyi-Medina.

“Sison’s trial for 15 counts of murder for the Inopacan Massacre is an opportune time for him to exhaust all the legal and constitutional right afforded to him by the very democracy he wished to destabilize even as he enjoys luxuries in the Netherlands. He and his lot are now given the opportunity to stand in court, to present their defense, and respond to the accusations against them,” Esperon said in a statement.

During the trial, Esperon said he has presented numerous pieces of evidence to prove that Sison and his co-accused are accountable for the massacre such as videos and photos detailing the manner in which the victims were brutally executed.

According to Esperon the Inopacan mass murder is part of the CPP-NPA’s brutal attempt to purge its ranks of suspected government informants in the 1980s.

The official added that from 1984 to 1986, numerous eyewitness accounts have told the story of how the CPP-NPA launched a nationwide purging of their ranks. Oplan Venereal Disease, as it was named in the Visayas, claimed the lives of around 3,000 people merely suspected of being government assets, embedded within its organization.

Esperon expressed confidence that after two decades of grief and despair, justice will be served for the victims and their relatives.

The vice chairman of the National Task Force- End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), slammed the CPP-NPA’s acts of reinforcing the true criminal and terrorist nature of the group masquerading as a revolutionary armed government.

In pushing for the redevelopment of some barangays nationwide under the Barangay Development Program of NTF-ELCAC, Esperon pointed out that CPP-NPA remains to be the primary political threat and hindrance to peace and prosperity in the countryside.

“Contrary to Sison’s contention, we do not play dirty, nor do we fabricate lies against the accused. This government respects the integrity and impartiality of the judicial proceedings as well as their right to due process; hence our clamor for the trial to proceed without delay,” Esperon said.

“I am beholden to the victims and the families they left behind to seek justice. In the same light, I urge Chairman Sison, who is now in his twilight years, to contemplate on his actions as the longstanding Chairman of the CPP-NPA. With certainty, it can be stated that he and the CPP-NPA have caused decades of misery and suffering in the country and in particular, to his former comrades and their families,” Esperon added.