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‘We will never forget the atrocities! We will continue our fight for justice!’

Reaction to Senator Robin Padilla’s statement re Martial [email protected]

By Amirah Lidasan

Assalamo Alaikum, brother Robin.

Your Bangsamoro brothers and sisters cannot accept your talk asking us to forget the dark years of Martial Law, and “move on” so that we can “grow.”

To forget the decade-long dictatorship is to perpetuate impunity and injustice for the victims of human rights abuses during Martial Law.

As survivors and families of victims of Martial Law, we can never forget the brutal military operations launched to force the Bangsamoro people out of our communities in Mindanao and to subdue the Bangsamoro resistance that defended our communities and fought for our right to self-determination.

The author (left) during the protest actions marking the 50th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

How can we forget the killings or “salvaging,” the massacres, the mass arrests and detention, the torture, the burning and destruction of our communities?

Many Bangsamoro children were not only orphaned but became victims themselves as the military, police, and vigilantes committed the worst forms of human rights violations against our people.

On September 24, we will be reminded again of the Palembang Massacre, the death of more than 1,500 Bangsamoro people in the town of Sultan Kudarat in 1972.

To this day, the perpetrators are still not held accountable for these crimes. Worse, they returned to power with the help of a systematized campaign of historical distortion, massive disinformation, electoral fraud, and six-year years of former President Duterte’s fascist rule.

Most of the Bangsamoro victims were not recognized and some were left out of the compensation program. We were again subjected to the same atrocities as former President Duterte unleashed a five-month campaign of military airstrikes and ground operations in Marawi City.

It is disappointing and downright insulting to ask us to forget. We had hoped that your place in the Senate would help amplify our voice for justice, rather than be part of the apologists of the worst human rights violators. #

(The author is an officer of Bayan Muna Party and the Moro-Christian Peoples’ Alliance)

KAPATID: ‘Red-tagging CHED chair may take custody of elder sister Adora’

Political prisoner support group appeals for martial law survivor’s humanitarian release

Political prisoner support group Kapatid appealed for humanitarian release and immediate return to Manila of martial law survivor Adora Faye de Vera, suggesting that her brother, Cabinet member Prospero de Vera III, may act as her guarantor.

Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said the government may put Adora could be put under the legal custody of younger sibling Prospero, Commission on Higher Education chairperson, as he is appropriate for the role.

“The very reasons that Prof. de Vera announced to distance himself from his sister could ironically provide the same rationale why he fits the bill as a guarantor…Who better [to act as] guarantor than a brother who has red-tagged his sister to prove in his own words that he neither ‘shares her views nor supports her actions’ and ‘fully supports the government in its efforts to end the communist insurgency’?” Lim said.

In a statement following his sister’s arrest last Wednesday, August 24, Prospero said he has not spoken to his sister for more than 25 years “since she decided to rejoin the underground movement.”

Prospero added that while he hopes and prays for Adora’s safety and good health in detention as she faces the cases filed against her, he fully supports the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in its efforts to end the communist insurgency.

‘Very sick’

Adora’s son also Ron’s called for his mother’s release and return to Manila to continue with her medical treatment.

“My mother is 66 now and very sick that’s why she was in Manila to seek medical care. We appeal to government authorities to immediately bring her back to Manila to ensure her safety while she undergoes medical treatment for chronic asthma and complications,” Ron, former program coordinator of Amnesty International Philippines, said.

Ron said their family is very worried for Adora’s safety following “tokhang-style” killings of prominent activists, mostly elderly and very ill, who were tagged by military-police forces as leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army.

Among them are National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants  Antonio Cabanatan, 74, and his wife Florenda Yap, 65, who were abducted, tortured, and murdered by police-military units also in Iloilo on December 26, 2020.

“Iloilo is not a safe place for Mama and it’s very far away from us. She has been through so much suffering. We appeal to government authorities to give her a chance to live a peaceful life and receive the proper medical care she needs. Please release her on humanitarian grounds and allow us to take care of her,” said Ron, whose father and Adora’s first husband, Manuel “Noni” Manaog, a community organizer, was abducted in 1990 and remains missing.

Adora was twice arrested during the Ferdinand Marcos Sr. dictatorship who revealed torture and rape in the hands of her captors.

She was among thousands of petitioners who successfully prosecuted the late dictator in a Hawaii court for human rights violations during martial law.

Kapatid’s Lim said Adora’s imprisonment reopens festering wounds that presents a tremendous challenge to new President Marcos Jr. “to show he is not incapable of righting the wrongs of the past and that his mantra of unity during the elections is not a hollow message to sidestep his family’s brutal and corrupt history.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Martial law survivors urge COMELEC to cancel ‘tax evader’ Marcos Jr’s candidacy

Martial law survivors called on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to disqualify Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the poll body hears petitions to cancel the former senator’s certificate of candidacy for the presidency in next year’s national elections.

The Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) said Marcos Jr. should never be allowed to hold or run for public office because he is a convicted tax evader.

“A thief, a liar, a convicted tax evader, and the unrepentant son of an ousted dictator should never be allowed to hold or run for public office — much more the highest and most powerful position in the land,” CARMMA said in a statement.

CARMMA is a group of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s martial law rule in the 1970s to 1980s.

The group said that to allow the presidential aspirant to again run for office is not only a blatant mockery but a shameless bastardization of the country’s democracy and electoral exercise.

CARMMA and other human rights groups earlier filed petitions against Marcos Jr. citing his 1995 tax evasion charges conviction by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC-RTC) and subsequent upholding of the decision by the Court of Appeals (CA) in 1997.

The government said the former senator had tax deficiencies amounting to P8,504 while he was Ilocos Norte vice governor and governor from 1982 to 1985.

During trial, Marcos Jr. blamed his staff for the crime, saying he always thought that his employees took care of filing his income tax returns.

The QC-RTC imposed a four year cumulative imprisonment sentence and a cumulative fine of P42,000 against Marcos Jr.

In upholding the QC-RTC decision, however, the CA removed the prison sentence and reduced the fine to P36,000, saying Marcos was not given due notice when the tax assessments were made.

The CA also acquitted Marcos Jr of the charge of not paying his income taxes.

CARMMA however said the late dictator’s son is still convicted of failing to file his income tax returns and should be perpetually disqualified from holding any government post in accordance with the Omnibus Election Code.

The Code’s Section 12 states that a person shall be disqualified from running for public office if he had been sentenced by final judgment “for subversion, insurrection, rebellion or for any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months or for a crime involving moral turpitude.”

The petitioners said that Marcos Jr.’s failure to pay his income taxes for four consecutive years while in power as a high government official constitutes moral turpitude.

“Having tasted unlimited powers, the Marcoses are now paving their return to Malacañang with Marcos Jr.’s bid for the presidency and their historical distortions and whitewashing of their atrocities funded by the millions they have stolen from the people,” CARMMA said.

The group said it is Comelec’s duty to settle the petitions to safeguard and defend democracy that were restored when the Marcoses were ousted in 1986.

“We must never again allow despots, tyrants, criminals, and liars to lord it over our land,” CARMMA said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Highlights of the #TamaNaWakasanNa protest last Tuesday

Commemorating the 49th anniversary of martial law declaration in the Philippines, social activists from the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) vowed to end the Duterte regime which they likened to the Marcos fascist dictatorship. (Video by Philip Brown)

Wakasan si Duterte, sigaw sa Pambansang Araw ng Protesta

Nagtipon ang iba’t-ibang grupo sa Liwasang Bonifacio bilang bahagi ng pambansang araw ng pagkilos para sa panawagang wakasan na ang administrasyong Duterte, Setyembre 21, 2021. Itinaon ang protesta sa ika-49 taong komemorasyon ng batas militar na ayon sa mga progresibong grupo ay walang pinagkaiba si Duterte sa dating Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos lalo na sa usapin ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao at korapsyon sa gobyerno.

‘We commit ourselves to the highest standards of journalism to serve the oppressed’

“We, the member student publications of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, strongly call and urge every campus journalist to join us in commemorating the evils witnessed by the nation during the Marcos dictatorship. In honor of our brave predecessors Liliosa Hilao, Leticia Ladlad, Ditto Sarmiento and Antonio Tagamolila, we will never forget the horrors that the Marcos regime tried to hide but never succeeded. We commit ourselves to the highest standards of journalism to serve the oppressed and exploited masses. We won’t and will never forget!”

Global rights group: Duterte committed more violations than Marcos

An international group accused Rodrigo Duterte as not only the new face of martial law in the Philippines but that his government has caused more human rights violations than the 14-year Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

In a statement marking the 49th anniversary of the imposition of Marcos’ martial law, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) enumerated various cases of rights violations in the country.

As Marcos declared martial law in 1972 to counter alleged threats by the then newly re-established Communist Party of the Philippines, Duterte imposed martial rule in Mindanao on the pretext of fighting armed groups that took over Marawi City.

ICHRP said that Duterte’s own martial rule led to an alarming increase in human rights violations that were not limited to the displacement of Moros and the bombing and destruction of Marawi City.

“Indigenous people’s schools (in Mindanao) have been shuttered and their communities remain under attack and occupation by the Philippine Army…While peasants in Negros and Panay islands are being arrested and massacred as they defend their right to till and their ancestral domain,” ICHRP global chairperson Peter Murphy said.

Murphy added that Duterte has also unleashed a war against the poor through his drug war that claimed more than 27,000 lives, including children.

“Worse, the country is now one of the most dangerous places in the world for human rights defenders,” Murphy said.

Unlike most presidents after the 1986 uprising that ousted Marcos, Duterte is an avowed Marcos admirer who permitted the dictator’s controversial internment at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).

Murphy said that justice is yet to be served to the victims of both martial law impositions, as the Duterte government refuses to cooperate with the formal investigation launched by the International Criminal Court based in The Hague, The Netherlands.

“We call on Duterte and his cohorts to end the repression now in the Philippines and to take accountability for all the human rights violations they committed against the Filipino people. We challenge him to face the ICC,” Murphy said.

The ICHRP also called on governments of the international community to stop supporting Duterte through military aid to the Philippines. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Lessons from the underground press of the martial law era

The author first wrote this in September 2011 and is being republished here on the occasion of the 49th anniversary of the imposition of martial law by President Ferdinand Marcos.

By Jun Verzola

“Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.”

That quote might be a startling, almost cynical take on the meaning of press freedom. But it was a respected American journalist, A.J. Liebling, who coined the now-famous aphorism. The terse statement was supposed to emphasize the harsh realities of capitalist ownership behind the noble expectation that journalists freely exercise their right, nay, fulfill their duty, to always provide the public with honest information and informed opinion.

In any case, little did Filipinos realize just how painfully that saying would apply to them on September 23, 1972. On that fateful Saturday morning, we all woke up to find no newspapers delivered to our doorsteps or sold on the sidewalks. We twiddled our radio sets (in my case, set just right beside my pillow, the better to hear the early morning news), asking with great puzzlement why they only emitted static noise on that morning.

Later in the day, we would know the reason for the total news blackout. Throughout the previous night, the big media presses and major radio-TV stations had been locked up, put under heavy armed guard, and later placed under new management controlled by Marcos and his martial law coterie.

Government-controlled print and broadcast outlets, such as the infamous Daily Express broadsheet and RPN-9 were allowed to continue. These Marcos mouthpieces enjoyed near-absolute media monopoly, spewing out the official propaganda line of the dictatorship while censoring the rest of the news. For most Filipinos, that was the first taste of martial law on its very first day: the lack of a free press.

A tale of mimeo machines

But I did say near-absolute, not absolute, media monopoly. That’s because outlawed national-democratic organizations, blacklisted journalists, and political dissidents of all kinds, including the growing forces of the Communist Party, were obliged to take the press into their own hands—quite literally. Once Proclamation 1081 was announced, and despite Marcos’ threats to arrest anyone caught with “subversive documents,” people from all walks of life everywhere throughout the country followed Liebling’s rule and quickly got hold of printing equipment of all kinds.

Mimeograph machines were the activists’ favorite since they were light enough to be carried by one or two people, loaded into the trunk of a car, operated quietly inside a room or garage, and quickly relocated as the need arose. But heavier presses were also valued—from hand-operated Minervas to baby offsets. In the hands of people who actively resisted martial law, these presses turned into powerful weapons.

At this point, I have a disclosure to make: Back then, I was a member of the radical youth group Kabataang Makabayan, a college freshman working as volunteer staff in its regional office for Metro Manila.

Some days before martial law was declared and amid rumors of an AFP-led Oplan Sagittarius, we already knew a big nationwide crackdown was imminent since the military was already raiding a few community headquarters and seizing boxfuls of books, documents and equipment. We had to pull out from our offices as much valuable stuff as we could. A mimeo machine was placed in my care and was quickly spirited out of the KM regional office, together with reams of paper and tubes of mimeo ink, and relocated into the underground network of houses and contacts that we had been secretly setting up in the previous months precisely for this kind of situation.

Thus, when government troops raided the various national and regional offices of mass organizations on September 22, we were ready to operate our underground press from the invisible nooks and crannies of the metropolis, and thus more effectively call on the people to resist the US-backed Marcos dictatorship by all means necessary.

During the first day of martial law itself, I recall, I was operating the mimeo machine from the “relative safety” of our family garage. (“Relative safety”—what an unintended but funny double-meaning!) Later, when things got hot, we moved the machine elsewhere. Still later, we would operate another mimeo machine secretly ensconced inside the stockroom of a gasoline station along Quezon Avenue, which my mother was then managing.

Underground newspapers as channels of resistance

Pretty much the same pattern of organized retreat to underground channels of resistance was conducted throughout the country during those early days (and nights) of martial law by most mass organizations and opposition groups. And one of the most important focuses of anti-dictatorship resistance was in putting up underground publications.

For leaders of mass organizations outlawed by martial law, one very effective way to keep in touch with their mass membership and sympathizer base was through underground publications—one-page leaflets, four-page or eight-page newsletters, all mimeographed.

Small editorial and productions staffs worked in tightly-knit teams to write and edit articles, prepare layout dummies by hand (and even right-justify the columns of text by hand), use typewriters and stylus pens to cut stencils, and take turns running the mimeo machines and collating and binding the finished copies. When no mimeo machine was available, production teams rigged up portable silkscreen devices (the famous “V-type”) and manually squeegee’d mimeo ink through stenciled screen straight to paper.

The results of this virtually handicraft-level press industry operating underground through the early martial law years were impressive. Taliba ng Bayan persisted for many years as a national (later Metro Manila-wide) underground newspaper, which came out in Tagalog-Pilipino every two weeks. Liberation came out as the newspaper of the National Democratic Front, in addition to the CPP’s Ang Bayan that was already secretly circulating among activists even before martial law. A cultural magazine named Ulos even boasted of multi-colored covers using silkscreen techniques. There was Balita ng Malayang Pilipinas, the underground movement’s news service.

Then there were regional newsletters, coming out monthly, or less frequently when their underground networks were disrupted. Dangadang was a regional paper for Ilocos-Cordillera-Pangasinan, Himagsik for Central Luzon, Kalatas for Southern Tagalog, and many others for the Visayan and Mindanao regions and for different sectors.

Thus, throughout those first few critical years, the forces that resisted martial law, in Metro Manila and in other regions from Cagayan Valley to Davao, kept a high morale and clear direction of work greatly assisted by these underground publications.

Taliba ng Bayan was an underground newspaper in Pilipino published by the National Democratic Front from late 1972 until the early 1980s. (From the Dante L. Ambrosio collection, http://bit.ly/oFZktI)

Heroic role of underground media remains mostly untold

The underground press was so important to the anti-dictatorship resistance, that activist supporters took great pains and risked great dangers to smuggle out boxes of freshly-printed copies from the various “production houses” and to transport and deliver them to “drop houses.” Here other activist networks picked them up, carefully divided them into smaller allotments, wrapped and camouflaged in various creative ways, and smuggled them into schools, factories, offices, and communities for distribution to people hungry for real news.

There were many cases of activists being arrested simply for “possession of subversive materials”—usually copies of underground publications—and then tortured to force them to divulge the network through which the publication was published and distributed, and ultimately to dismantle that network and capture its leaders. Some of these activists disappeared soon after arrest, never to be seen again and presumed “salvaged” (secretly executed) by the fascist intelligence agents of Marcos.

The first wave of legal alternative media (or “mosquito press” as the journalists affectionately called them) that came later, from 1975 onwards, enjoyed better print quality and wider circulation, and persisted despite facing fascist harassment because the public hungered for them. Many of these legal media owed much to the pioneering efforts of the earlier underground publications. Indeed, numerous stalwarts of the anti-dictatorship media that proliferated after 1981, when martial law was formally lifted, could trace their roots to these early and now barely-recalled resistance publications.

Many of those underground media practitioners who survived the Marcos era have gone on to play other roles for the CPP-NPA-NDF, while others have returned to the legal arena, or reinvented themselves into other professions, or are now retired; some have passed away.

It is somewhat odd, if not ironic, that they who pioneered the anti-dictatorship media from the very first days of martial law could not, even now, for various reasons, tell their full stories.

We continue to await their half-divulged accounts about that watershed period in our country’s history. Their experiences could serve as a precious legacy to younger generations of Filipino journalists, by showing how it was to lay your life down on the line, in perhaps one of the fullest possible examples of exercising media rights.

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one, Liebling said. That may be true in a sense. In the case of the martial-law generation of activists and progressive journalists, however, we exercised that freedom by building up our own press from scratch when there was none—even if it meant using only a portable typewriter, mimeo stencil, V-type printing rig, and an unquenchable thirst for press freedom, people’s rights and social justice. #

‘We will never forget the atrocities they committed and their cronies’

“The Marcoses and the Dutertes, as well as their cohorts, might join forces in rewriting history. But we will not forget nor cower. We, victims of Marcos’ martial law, will never forget the atrocities they committed and their cronies. Together with the Filipino people, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to uphold truth, justice, and human rights and continue to defy past and present fascist regimes.”Danilo Dela Fuenta, Martial Law victim and National Vice Chairperson, Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA)

‘We will never accept a repeat of such regimes’

“We will never accept a repeat of such regimes, which will be made worse with a Duterte-Marcos tandem in the 2022 elections. We call on all freedom-loving Filipinos to vigorously reject, campaign and vote against them and to continue to demand accountability from them.”Prof. Judy Taguiwalo, Martial Law victim and Convenor, Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA)