Bar passer, 4 NPA comrades massacred by AFP—CPP

[CLARIFICATION: Ms Cesista deliberately chose not to take the oath and sign the roll of lawyers after passing the bar examinations last year. Instead, she chose to join the NPA full time. Technically, she was not a lawyer.]

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) accused the Philippine Army of massacre that killed a bar examinations passer and her four New People’s Army (NPA) comrades in Bilar, Bohol last Friday, February 23.

In a statement on its website, the CPP said the 47th Infantry Battalion (47IB) of the Philippine Army and the Bohol Philippine National Police (PNP) captured bar passer Hannah Cesista, Domingo Compoc, Parlio Historia, Marlon Omusura and Alberto Sancho in a house they stayed in Sitio Matin-ao 2, Barangay Campagao Friday morning.

“Contrary to international laws of war, the victims were tortured and killed,” the CPP said.

CPP’s statement was accompanied by a photo of Compoc, alledgedly a top CPP leader in the province, while being held captive by a government soldier.

Compoc, 60, was tortured in front of residents despite suffering from arthritis. He was hacked at his neck and torso, the CPP said.

The group added that according to a witness, young lady lawyer Cesista was ordered to crawl on mud before being executed.

Authorities said the five were killed in a three-hour gun battle that also killed a Police Corporal Gilbert Amper.

The CPP however insisted the NPA fighters were captured alive and publicly executed to intimidate the residents from supporting the guerrilla army.

The residents were also ordered to leave after the crime, the group further revealed.

It added that the so-called scene-of-the-crime report by the police is an attempt at whitewashing the massacre, also citing the statements given by the PNP over local radio stations that the victims put up a fight while being served a warrant of arrest.

“The 47th IB and the Bohol PNP, the AFP and the PNP leadership, as well as (President Ferdinand) Marcos himself are liable for this war crime and must be prosecuted and punished,” CPP chief information officer Marco Valbuena said.

Tribute to a martyred lawyer

Meanwhile, revolutionary youth group Kabataang Makabayan (KM) paid tribute to fellow youth Cesista.

In a statement Saturday, the group said it salutes Cesista and her four other comrades who shall serve as “fuel to the revolutionary flame in our hearts that can never be extinguished until the national democratic aspirations they offered their lives for are achieved.”

“We particularly raise our fists to our fellow youth, Hannah Jay “Ka Maya” Cesista, whose revolutionary martyrdom serves as inspiration in expressing our militancy through joining the ranks of the NP,” KM said.

“Her pursuit of championing human rights took her to the difficult path of armed struggle after witnessing state fascism and terrorism and, by extension reactionary law, as but utilities of the ruling class to exploit and oppress the people,” it added.

KM said Cesiste offered her expertise and intellect to strengthen the revolutionary ranks of the NPA in Bohol.

“Ka Maya’s life was far from wasted. In fact, she has proven, along with the thousands of martyred Red fighters, that the revolution continues through the ceaseless flow of new blood from the youth who are radicalized in the cities and the countryside, eager for genuine national democracy and lasting peace,” KM said.

Who was Atty. Cesista?

The slain NPA fighter was a graduate of the Political Science Department of the University of the Philippines-Cebu, trained in different theories that shaped her worldviews and analysis, a Kodao source wrote.

Cesista was a member of various campus organizations, including Youth For Christ-UP Cebu Chapter, Cebu Students for Justice and Peace, and Kabataan Partylist-UP Cebu.

She integrated into the different sectors in Central Visayas where she was further exposed to worsening conditions and plights of the basic sectors, the source said.

Cesista then proceeded to law school at the University of San Carlos (USC) and volunteered as a paralegal for human rights groups.

Earlier, AFP Visayas Command mistakenly described the victim as a University of Cebu (UC) – Banilad Campus law alumna, prompting Dean Ria Lidia Espina to issue a correction.

“On behalf of the University of Cebu School of Law, we would like to extend our condolences to the family and send prayers for the eternal repose of her soul, though she was not a UC Law graduate,” Espina said in a Manila Bulletin report.

Philippine Army spokesperson Col. Louie Dema-ala also alleged Cesista became an NPA fighter in 2020 at a time when the victim was a full time law student in Cebu.

As a USC law student, Cesista spent her free time volunteering giving free human rights and paralegal workshops to poor communities.

She was also one of the pioneer members of the National Union of People’s Lawyers Students-Cebu Chapter and was elected as secretary-general.

Cesista graduated in 2022 and passed the bar in 2023. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

(Updated: 28 February)