KONSYENSA DABAW: No real change in forgetting

Thirty-one (31) years after the dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted, and he and his family and fled the Philippines, Filipinos are continuing the fight against tyranny and forgetting.

Konsyensya Dabaw addresses the perception that the historic contributions of Dabawenyos to the struggles that culminated in the February 25, 1986 flight of the Marcoses have been set aside.

The peoples of Davao took their place in the fight against authoritarianism and militarism, highlighted by the first pastoral letter against Martial Law issued by then Davao Archbishop Antonio Mabutas in 1978, the courageous campaigns of the different sectors, and the first Welgang Bayan (Peoples’ Strike) in 1984.

A number of Dabawenyos have been honored by the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, their names inscribed on the Wall of Remembrance that commemorates those who defied the repressive regime from 1972 to 1986: among them Eduardo “Taking” E. Lanzona (+1975), Nicolas “Nick” M. Solana Jr. (+1975), Ricardo P. Filio (+1976), Raymundo “Rhyme” Ortega Petalcorin (+1976), Fernando “Nanding” Torralba Esperon (+1985), Ma. Socorro Par (+1985), Joel Ozarraga Jose (+1987) and Atty. Laurente “Larry” C. Ilagan (+2001).

While there are no memorials in Davao dedicated to Dabawenyos who resisted the Marcos dictatorship, we remember them in our hearts and by our struggles. At least 103 Dabawenyos and others in the Davao region were killed during Martial Law or suffered human rights violations. Konsyensya Dabaw’s campaign against the hero’s burial for Marcos was in part spurred by the memory of our local heroes.

On February 25, 2017 fellow Dabawenyos saw it fit to gather for a Freedom Rally in support of President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign against drugs, crime and corruption. The action was also said to be a mobilization against purported destabilization attempts directed at the Duterte administration, and a dismissal of the elitism of the EDSA Revolution.

We respect the Freedom Rally as an exercise of democratic rights. But we argue that the mobilization would not have been possible had the events of February 1986 not taken place. For starters, the change in administration that enabled Nanay Soling Duterte to recommend in her stead the appointment of her son Rodrigo Duterte to the post of Davao City Vice-Mayor and which launched his 30 years of being a political leader would not have happened.

The uprising that booted out Marcos did not only occur at EDSA on February 22-25, 1986. It happened in different places all over the country, over a long period of time, involving different forms of struggle.  Given all that were invested, we can not concede that the uprising and its gains belong to only one political bloc.

On February 25, 1986, Filipinos unseated a brutal dictator. That the regimes that came after did not follow through on the vision of genuine societal change does not invalidate that milestone achievement. It only means the struggle is unfinished.

But the flirtation with the Marcoses in the guise of protecting Pres. Duterte not only has corrosive effects on Filipino political growth, it also endorses Marcosian efforts to foster large-scale forgetting and revisionism to pave the way for their full return to power, which is a repudiation of the change we desire.

Long after 1986, we encourage Dabawenyos to continue to find wisdom in the words with which the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation honored our very own Atty. Ilagan: for “taking a public stand against the dictatorship, providing a model of resistance for his community, a stand that required courage, humanity and great love of country.”  May we do no less under the circumstances in which we find ourselves.

Contact Person: Mags Z. Maglana