DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /14 August) — A mixed group of Dabawenyos, among them martial law victims, members of civil society, critics and supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, appealed to him Sunday to reconsider his decision to allow the burial of the late dictator, former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) and let him be buried instead at the LNMBatac (Libingan Ng mga Marcos sa Batac) in Ilocos Norte.
“Gikan sa Batac, Ibalik sa Batac,” “Never Again,” “Hero’s burial for Marcos is a disgrace to the nation,” were among the calls of Konsensya Dabaw (Hugpong Dabawenyo para LNMBatac) which staged a picket at the Centennial Park Sunday morning.
Candles with the names of at least 105 Dabawenyos killed during martial law were laid on the steps before they were lit.
Mags Z. Maglana, one of the conveners of Konsensya Dabaw said they were saddened by Duterte’s decision to allow the burial in LNMB when he promised during the campaign that he would consult with martial law victims, submit the issue in a sort of consensus and then hold a plebiscite.
In a statement, Konsyensya Dabaw said many in the Davao region suffered repression under martial law. “In one partial list alone, over 100 individuals now deceased were killed or victimized for questioning Marcosian rule; countless more were harassed, illegally detained and tortured. The fiscal inequities, government neglect, graft and corruption, and resource drain from which Davao and the rest of Mindanao suffered were dramatized during the Marcos administration. Not only were these aspects of how Marcos plundered the nation, they were also part of the historical injustice of which you spoke during your first State of the Nation Address.”
“These Dabawenyos and their families who endured injustice, along with the estimated 3,257 killed, 35,000 tortured, 70,000 jailed and 737 missing in the rest of the country have yet to be fully honored for the sacrifices they made. Meanwhile Marcos Sr. and the Marcos family, who since 1986 have steadily been regaining power, influence and stature, and remain unapologetic and unrepentant, will gain from the exoneration that will occur sooner than later with a Marcos entombment at LNMB,” it said.
Maglana said Marcos was not a hero. She said he took advantage of his powers as President, abused the Filipino people, stole between $5 billion to $10 billion from the country, and left the country in debt.
“That’s really sad. We, Dabawenyos, are worried by the words of the President because he promised during the campaign that he would destroy the oligarchs, people who live off the sweat of the poor and peddle their influence, and Marcos was the top oligarch. How can the President destroy the oligarchy in the Philippines when he honors an oligarch in the country?” she asked.
She said the remains of the late strongman should be buried in Batac, Ilocos Norte
“Change is here man kaya? Gusto namo tapusin ang issue (We want to end this issue), but what we think will really lay the issue to rest is ilibing si Marcos sa Batac. We should remember that Marcos himself wanted that he be buried beside his mother, according to (the late) Vice President Laurel. Why don’t we just support the wish of the deceased? Let us honor the wishes of the former president. Let him be buried in Batac,” she added.
Maglana also said not all Presidents are buried in the LNMB. “In fact there are only three other presidents na nasa Libigan – Diosdado Macapagal, Elipdio Quirino, at Carlos Gacria,” she added.
She said that the law says those who must be buried at the “heroes’ cemetery are “worthy of our aspiration and ideas.”
“Ang sinasabi ba natin gayahin si Marcos – his ideals, and values, are worthy of emulation? Okay magnakaw, okay maging diktador? (Are we saying emulate Marcos, his ideas and values are worth of emulation? Okay to steal, okay to be a dictator?) We are against graft and corruption, siya pinakamalaking mandarambong sa Pilipinas” (he is the biggest plunderer), she added.
Grace Mahinay, 61, an activist and member of the 1st Quarter Storm that fought the Marcos regime, said she was tortured, labeled as a communist, and arrested on March 19, 1973 in Talomo without due process.
“All activists were considered rebels. I was arrested after authorities raided our home along with two other males… I could not forget those times when a military officer kicked me every time he saw me,” she said.
She was only allowed to join the other female inmates after a week of torture in a separate at the Camp Domingo Leonor, or what is now known as the headquarters of the Davao City Polcie Office
She said a military official, who she could only remember by his name Master Sergeant Amatong, burned her skin with a cigarette, grabbed her head and slammed it on the wall, and kicked her every time he saw her.
She said the official was angered when Mahinay refused to answer their queries regarding the identities and whereabouts of the people visiting their group’s office in Talomo.
“He was proud to tell me that I was the first female detainee to experience torture. The other female detainees had received different treatment. I was the only exemption,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/ MindaNews)