‘Traveling skeletons’

IT’S Christmas but for a long time some leftist activists feel like Halloween. The skeleton of a decades-old case in Hilongos, Leyte, keeps on hounding them.

The Hilongos case is a “multiple murder” case filed against more than 50 leaders of people’s organizations allegedly due to a “purge” in the Communist Party of the Philippines in 1984.

Among the respondents in the case are Jose Ma. Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, Bayan Muna political director Vicente Ladlad, Anakpawis chairperson Rafael Baylosis, and Anakpawis vice chairperson Randall Echanis.

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas leader Dario Tomada is in jail in connection with the Hilongos case. Activists call it “the case of the traveling skeletons” after Ocampo, during his arrest in 2007, accused military officials of using recycled skeletons as evidence.

The former lawmaker said five of the 15 skeletons allegedly found in Hilongos, Leyte, as evidence of mass killings had actually been also previously dug in Barangay Monterico in Albay in 2004.

“Just like in the case of the ‘Morong 43’ where the evidence is a fruit of a poisoned tree, the Hilongos case is a fruit of the Arroyo administration’s dirty imagination and political persecution,” said Anakpawis Rep. Rafael Mariano.

He said some of those accused are languishing in jail due to the “trumped up charge.” The lawmaker is calling on the government to also drop the case, like what it did to the case of the 43 health workers.

Mariano said dropping of the multiple murder charges against the accused will “further boost confidence” in the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front. Some of those accused in the “traveling skeleton case” are NDF negotiators and “consultants.”

Malacañang recently offered a glimmer of hope when it announced that cases of political detainees will go a thorough review.

Mariano hopes the leftist activists will have a merry Christmas with the review and subsequent withdrawal of cases of political prisoners, especially if it will include the charges in Hilongos, Leyte, that were filed during the Arroyo administration.

‘BLACK TRAVEL ADVISORY’: The Hong Kong government is not so forgiving. Months after preventing its nationals from traveling to the Philippines in the aftermath of the August 23 hostage fiasco, the former British colony issued on Monday a “black” travel advisory against travel to the Philippines.

Hong Kong authorities cited “heightened risk” from “some overseas administrations” on possible terrorist attacks in Manila. “Some overseas administrations had noted the heightened risk on possible terrorist attacks in Manila, including places frequented by foreigners, such as large shopping malls and convention centres,” the Hong Kong advisory states.

What a pity. It might affect our tourism revenue, but it’s a pity for Hong Kong nationals to miss the world’s best Christmas experience that only the Philippines can offer. Joe Torres

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