Groups of artists condemned the death threat on multi-awarded artist Bonifacio Ilagan, saying the incident is yet another desperate ploy against activists and progressive cultural workers.
The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) and the Kilometer 64 Writers’ Collective (KM 54) said the threat against Ilagan is part of ongoing fascist attacks against political dissenters.
Ilagan reported to colleagues he was at a pet store in Quezon City in the afternoon of January 2 when he received a call from an unknown number.
He recalled that the caller introduced himself as a commander of a unit tasked to wipe out suspected Communists like the veteran activist.
Ilagan added that the caller warned him to desist from his activities as their so-called unit is just waiting for the “final order from the higher ups.”
“[The caller] said they would surely get me, and that I should not ask for mercy. It would be futile, because I had already been warned,” Ilagan reported.
“While the man didn’t say outright that they would kill me, his point was all too clear: They could,” Ilagan added.
The artist said that while he received his share of messages that cursed and threatened him in the past because of his activism, Monday’s incident was the first time that he received a call that said much more.
“There is no other reason I can think of behind the threat but my activism that goes way back to the 70s,” Ilagan said.
CAP said in a statement Wednesday that it condemns that crackdown against activist artists like Ilagan.
KM 64 added that the threat against Ilagan is part of an old strategy against critics of anti-people government policies.
Human rights group Karapatan earlier reported that that at least 17 civilians became victims of mass surveillance and extrajudicial killings from July 1 to November 30 of 2022.
“We are in solidarity and we stand with Bonifacio Ilagan and all other cultural workers who are part of the people’s history by fighting for truth, genuine freedom and human rights,” KM 64 said.
Who is Boni Ilagan?
Ilagan was a student activist during the Ferdinand Marcos Sr. dictatorship who led the historic Diliman Commune uprising at the University of the Philippines in 1970.
Ilagan was abducted in 1974 and was subjected to various forms of torture. After being conditionally released on 1976, Ilagan continued his activism and became a multi-awarded stage and film playwright.
He was again arrested in the 1990s but was released after three months in detention.
He was among the thousands of petitioners who filed a class action suit against the Marcos estate that awarded millions of dollars as indemnification to thousands of Martila Law victims.
He is a member of SELDA (Semahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensiyon at Aresto) and co-convened the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA), an organization composed of martial law survivors that seek accountability for the various rights violations of the late dictator, his cronies, and the Marcos dynasty.
Ilagan was named the winner of the prestigious Gawad Plaridel in 2019, given by the College of Mass Communication of his alma mater University of the Philippines. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)