Relatives, friends pay tribute to George and Macel

The two, who were development workers and journalists, were killed by motorcycle-riding gunmen last June 19. They were buried this morning at the Cotabato Memorial Park.

"Our seeking for justice does not end when we buried the bodies of George and Macel, but our struggle lives on until the killers are arrested and placed in prison," declared Maribel Alave-Porras, Maricel's younger sister.

Mabel, wearing red t-shirt with the words "Justice for George and Macel," was in tears when she said her last message during the vigil Friday.

"They may have killed the physical bodies of George and Macel… but their ideals, their struggle for the protection of human rights and the welfare of the oppressed, will never be taken away from us.   They can't kill these ideals," she stressed.

George and Macel, both former leaders of Students for Truth and Nationalism, Democracy (STAND), an affiliate of the militant League of Filipino Students (LFS) from late 80s up to early '90s, were active in peace and development initiatives in conflict-affected areas in the boundary of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Maguindanao.

The couple established the Peoples' Kauyahan Foundation, Inc., a non-government organization based here that pioneered the setting up of 'sanctuaries of peace' along the boundaries of Tulunan in North Cotabato; Datu Paglas in Maguindanao; and Columbio, Sultan Kudarat.

These areas were battlefields of the  military and Moro rebels from the 1970s up to 2003 when the government launched an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

In 2005, the couple organized the Tri-boundary Coordinating Council (TriBoCC), a group composed of leaders of the B'laan tribe from Columbio town, Maguindanaon Moro from Datu Paglas, and Ilonggo settlers from Tulunan. The group's task is to settle conflicts through dialogues and consultations.

The Vigos are also known in North Cotabato for their contribution to community journalism.  They co-founded the Federation of Reporters for Empowerment and Equality (FREE), a group of progressive journalists in North Cotabato.   They became regular staff writers of Headliner, a weekly community paper published by FREE.

British Broadcasting Company (BBC) reporter Orlando de Guzman, who is based in Indonesia, called George a friend, a professional journalist and "one of our trusted sources or contacts of the BBC.   His death was a big loss to BBC."

"We can never enter conflict areas in Mindanao without a trusted source. And George was one of them. I've worked many times with him when I was tasked to write stories about Mindanao," he said in a radio interview.

De Guzman created a blog for the slain couple as a salute to their lives and journalism work.

"The Vigos campaigned for peace in the war-torn Philippine province of Mindanao… their murderers are still at large," they said.

Also, de Guzman has created an emergency fund to help George's and Macel's children through this difficult time.

The couple left behind five children: Jesa Marie, 16; Dennis Rev, 13; Karl Rev, 9; Arriane Joy, 6; and John Rev, 3.

De Guzman urged  those who would like to donate or pledge funds to open the blog at http://georgeandmaricel.blogspot.com or contact him through his mobile phone number +63-9214114038.

Keith Bacongco, who worked with the couple in the Headliner, has also designed a website (www.georgeandmacel.com) for George and Macel. One of their friends, he said, paid the hosting and domain of the web, Bacongco said. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)

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