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MANILA, Philippines - A farmer accidentally unearthed the skeletal remains of what were believed to be victims of killings by New People's Army (NPA) rebels in San Francisco, Quezon, the Philippine Army said Sunday.
Rommel Malinao, 47, was plowing his field Saturday when he discovered a mass grave containing the remains of at least 30 persons in Sitio Irrigation, Barangay Pagsanghan. The Army said the skeletal remains were at least two decades old.
Army spokesman Maj. Harold Cabunoc said the skeletal remains were believed to be victims of NPA purges who were sentenced to die by a rebel "kangaroo court."
Malinao said the sight of the human remains scared him, recalling incidents when rebels were killing people who were suspected military informants.
Rebecca Ruga, barangay chairman of Pagsangahan, reported the incident to the local police and military authorities.
At around 8 a.m. Sunday, government officials, soldiers of the 74th Infantry Battalion and PNP scene of the crime operatives (SOCO) proceeded to the site of the mass grave to conduct an investigation.
A villager, who refused to be identified, said that at least 47 people in their locality had gone missing starting in mid-80's.
It was also during this period that the communist rebels implemented the "Oplan Missing Link," in an attempt to cleanse their ranks of suspected undercover military agents.
Lt. Col. Dennis Perez, Commanding Officer of the 74th Infantry Battalion, called on all human rights advocates including the group Karapatan, which is very critical of the military, to denounce the killings believed to be the handiwork of the NPA.
"This is a clear manifestation of the CPP-NPA's cruelty not only towards the civilian populace but also against their own armed members. These crimes must be condemned by all," he said.
On August 2006, another mass grave, containing remains of former NPA rebels executed by their comrades, was discovered in Sitio Mount Sapang Dako, Barangay Kaulisihan, Inopacan, Leyte.
From 2009-2012, several mass graves were discovered by the soldiers of the 9th Infantry Division in the Bicol region.
Skeletal remains of supposed NPA victims were discovered in Gubat, Sorsogon, Bgy Taplacon in Camalig, Albay and also in Labo, Camarines Norte.