GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/26 September) – The national government has finally recognized around 1,500 Moro residents of a village in Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat province who were killed in a massacre 40 years ago as martial law victims.
Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales personally gave the recognition on Thursday to the victims’ families in line with the 40th year commemoration of the infamous September 24, 1974 Malisbong Massacre.
She personally met with some of the survivors and relatives of the victims in a visit at a mosque in Barangay Malisbong in Palimbang town where the massacre happened.
Rosales said the government is mainly giving proper recognition and upholding the rights of all the victims of the gruesome massacre.
“Bibigyan natin ng dangal and bawat isa sa kanila because there is this measure of justice na bagamat hindi total justice ay nagsisiguro ng tinuturing nating hustisya (We will give dignity to each one of them because there is this measure of justice that, although not total, ensures some kind of justice that we’ve been hoping),” she said.
The CHR chief was referring to the enlistment or inclusion of the survivors and the families of the massacre victims as among the claimants of the P10-billion fund that was set aside by the government for the monetary remuneration of human rights victims during the martial law regime of the late President Ferdinand Marcos.
Such move was provided for in Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, a law recognizing and providing reparation to victims of human rights violations during Martial Law.
CHR personnel facilitated the filing of the claims with the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board of the Malisbong Massacre victims.
HRVCB personnel came to the city earlier this week to receive and process claims for martial law remuneration of victims coming from this city and nearby provinces of South Cotabato and Sarangani.
Former Akbayan partylist representative Mario Aguja, who helped lobby for the recognition of the Malisbong Massacre victims, said their inclusion in the martial law remuneration is a significant step towards “healing” of the wounds created by the incident.
“For the first time in 40 years, they have finally filed their claims. This is not only monetary but part of it is the recognition from the government that they were victims of state-led atrocities during the martial law period,” he said.
The Malisbong Massacre is considered as among the worst atrocities that happened in southern and central Mindanao during the martial law period.
Based on accounts by the Moro Women’s Center based in this city, the entire Moro-dominated coastal village of Malisbong in Palimbang was razed to the ground by government forces and their allies.
“Moro men were shot to death while women and children were arrested and brought to a nearby Marines and Navy boat anchored on the sea shore that was constantly shelling the community,” the group said.
It said women aged nine to 60 years-old were raped while being detained at the boat overnight.
“About 3,000 detained women and children were later released and ushered to a community along the seashore. Most of them lost their sanity due to grave torture during interrogations,” it said.
Based on the group’s estimates, around 1,500 male Moros aged 11 to 70-years old were massacred inside the Malisbong mosque while some 300 houses were destroyed and burned by government forces.
The massacre occurred two years after the declaration of martial law. (MindaNews)