NPA takes responsibility for destruction of Marcos bust
- Artemio Dumlao () - December 31, 2002 - 12:00am
BAGUIO CITY – Communist guerrillas have owned up to the blasting of the concrete bust of former strongman Ferdinand Marcos in a mountainside in La Union early Sunday.

In a statement, Martin Montana, the alleged leader of Chadli Molintas Command of the New People’s Army (NPA) operating in the Ilocos provinces and Cordillera Autonomous Region, said the Marcos bust "is an abomination that had to be eliminated."

In a statement, the rebels said the 99-foot Marcos bust, built in the early 80s over the five-hectare Ibaloi tribe property, should have been destroyed when Marcos was ousted in the February 1986 people power revolt.

They also blamed the administration of former President Corazon Aquino for the lack of political will in destroying the statue, which Montana described as "a symbol of Marcos’ arrogance and egotism."

The NPA said the blasting of the Marcos bust is "an initial and symbolic step of the NPA."

Despite the claims made by the communists, the Philippine National Police (PNP) is still convinced that treasure hunters were behind the blast, claiming the communists were simply riding on the issue as part of their propaganda war.

PNP chief Director General Hermogenes Ebdane said treasure hunters, egged on by tales that bars of gold were stored inside the Marcos bust, might have carried out the bombing.

"This time we heard from our grapevine that some people involved in treasure hunting have really something to do with it," Ebdane said.

Ebdane clarified they had not ruled out the participation of the NPA. "Unless we have gathered evidence, then we cannot link it to them (NPA)," he said.

He said police investigators have yet to complete their investigation on the incident but hinted the "treasure hunters" might be some residents in the area.

Gregorio "Ka Roger" Rosal, spokesman for the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), confirmed Maoist guerrillas operating in northern Luzon carried out the bombing.

Rosal said the NPA guerrillas carried out a 1999 directive issued by the CPP "to arrest, put on trial and punish the principal implementers and beneficiaries of martial law."

According to Rosal, the destruction of the late dictator’s bust was an act of transforming "a symbol of dictator-worship to a symbol of the dismal justice and human rights situation in the Philippines."

Rosal said the bust was a grim reminder what Marcos did to the people during martial law.

For his part, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff Gen. Dionisio Santiago described the guerrilla action as terrorism.

"We cannot cover every inch of the ground," he said, responding to local criticism over the military’s failure to prevent the attack.

Ebdane said they will be leaving the matter of estimating the damage of the blast to the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA) and the National Historical Institute (NHI).

PNP spokesman Senior Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil said their investigation indicated the blast was caused by treasure hunters.

Police said unidentified persons had secretly planted dynamite on the huge statue and carried out the blast, believing there was treasure hidden inside the 99-foot concrete bust.

The bust of the late president erected on a mountainside overlooking the South China Sea in Pugo, La Union, had its upper half destroyed, with the eyes, ears and nose blown off.

A time bomb was reportedly used to destroy the statue, which became a tourist attraction along the Marcos Highway towards Baguio City. with Jaime Laude, Benjie Villa, Sammy Santos, Katherine Adraneda, AFP

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES BAGUIO CITY BENJIE VILLA BUST CHADLI MOLINTAS COMMAND OF THE NEW PEOPLE COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES CORDILLERA AUTONOMOUS REGION EBDANE LA UNION MARCOS
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