DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 24 November) – Students, victims of human rights violations under martial law and representatives of various sectors will gather at the Freedom Park here at 3:30 p.m. on Friday, November 25, to join the “National Day of Rage and Unity” against the Nov. 18 burial of the remains of the deposed dictator Ferdinand Edralin Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB).
Students of the Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) held two protest actions this week — “Liwanag ng Hustisya” on Monday and “Black Shirt Wednesday” — in the run-up to Friday’s expected big rally in President Rodrigo Duterte’s city.
Duterte arrived near midnight Wednesday but will be out of town on Friday. In his arrival statement, he said protest actions “shall be allowed in all open public places for as long as they want with no time limit” and without need for permits. (read Duterte to protesters: go ahead, “as long as you want, with no time limit”)
Home to Duterte who was mayor here for 22 years, Davao City has been criticized for its alleged silence on Duterte’s move to have Marcos buried at the LNMB.
At least six protest actions, although participated only by a few, have been staged by Konsyensya Dabaw, twice in August, once in September, and on Nov. 7, eve of the Supreme Court decision; when the Supreme Court ruled 9-5-1 on Nov. 8 dismissing the petitions opposing Marcos’ burial at the LNMB; and on Nov. 18, after Marcos’ burial.
Some ADDU students joined Konsyensya Dabaw at the Freedom Park on Nov. 8 and 18 while martial law victims belonging to SELDA (Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) and representatives of militant groups also held a protest action near City Hall, on Nov. 18.
Megue Zea Monteverde, President of Buklurang Atenista (Buklat), told MindaNews Wednesday that students from ADDU and other schools in the city will converge at the Freedom Park, along with other sectors, on Friday.
Monteverde said Ateneans were at the forefront in the struggle to topple the Marcos dictatorship in the 1970s and 1980s.
“Kailangan nilang pagbayaran ang injustices na ginawa nila noon” (They must pay for the injustices that they did), she said of the Marcoses.
“Panahon na para kumilos at magprotesta laban sa anti-people na mga policies” (It’s time to act and protest against anti-people policies), she said.
She said they are calling on their teachers and University President Fr. Joel Tabora, to also join them on Friday. Tabora is out of town.
Tabora has yet to issue a statement on the issue, prompting Reil Benedict Obinque, editor in chief of Atenews, the student publication, to write on Nov. 19 that Ateneo de Davao “should perhaps be slapped by its own history.”
“From the proposal of burying Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani to the Supreme Court’s final decision to the sneaky burial that happened yesterday, Ateneo de Davao, save for some students and student organizations, stayed tight-lipped. This should not be the case. If there is a university that should be on the frontline of protesting against the Marcos’ burial, it should be ADDU,” Obinque said, noting that student and teacher activists in ADDU were among those who were detained during martial law.
“One could visit the library and discover Atenews’ releases during the said decade to uncover the saddening events during Martial Law – events sparked by the same man we gave a hero’s burial to, the same burial we, Ateneans, did not speak up against,” the 19-year Obinque said.
Obingque wrote that in almost all of the speeches of Fr. Tabora, he always talked about “common good” and “social justice.”
“It’s time we live up to our own words,” Obinque said, adding “our silence about this issue has been ultimately deafening, and to stay expressionless until now would be saddening for the students and members of the ADDU community who were victimized during Martial Law. It’s time, Ateneans, that we speak up and protest!”
Monteverde said Tabora has yet to respond to the call of Atenews. MindaNews also sought Tabora for comment but he has yet to respond.
On Monday, the Ateneo Public Interest and Legal Advocacy (APILA) issued a statement that “there is no greater betrayal than that of public trust, and this government violated that trust by ensuring the clandestine burial of a dictator, a plunderer, and a human rights violator at the LNMB,” in disrespect of the petitioners’ statutory right to file a motion for reconsideration.
APILA said Duterte claimed the burial will bring about unity and reconciliation but “dismissing historical injustice in the pretext of national healing is not only dividing the nation further but also it is creating new and deep wounds since this treacherous act is another blatant attack against our sense of national dignity.”
Monteverde said they went on a room-to-room campaign to get more students to join the protest actions. She said some were sympathetic to their cause but “ayaw nila dahil magulo daw kasi sensationalized na ang issue” (they don’t want to join because the issue has been sensationalized), while other students asked them to “move on na lang.”
“Paano kami mag move on kung ang mga bangkay di pa nakikita” (How can we move on if the bodies have not even been found) referring to the desaparecidos, “kung yung utang di pa nababayaranan, lubog na lubog sa utang ng mga Marcos.”
Chanting “Marcos, Hitler, Diktador, Tuta,” Monteverde and at least 50 students marched from the Thibault Grounds to the Roxas entrance last Wednesday, carrying placards stating “Marcos not a hero,” “End Impunity” and “Maraming Marcos apologists, pero walang Marcos apology!”
At least five members of the Order of Friars Minor, students of the St. Saint Alphonsus Theological and Mission Institute (SATMI), joined them, wearing their brown habits.
Mark Anthony Zarate, 22, said they and their other classmates will return on Friday to join the rally.
“Nananawagan ako kay President Duterte na magpaliwanag sa taong bayan, sa akusasyong pagbabayad ng utang na loob (sa mga Marcoses),” (I am calling on President Duterte to explain to the people on the accusations he is paying the Marcoses a debt of gratitude) for supporting him in the elections.
Duterte told Luzon officials attending a consultation in Makati on Oct. 4 that Marcos’ eldest daughter, Imee, Governor of Ilocos Norte, had helped fund his campaign. Imee’s name, however, does not appear in Duterte’s Statement of Contributions and Expenditures.
“Mas malalim na sugat”
Preparations for the burial of Marcos began on August 7 in a memorandum issued by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, to General Ricardo Visaya, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, citing Duterte’s verbal order on July 11 “to implement his election campaign promise” to have the remains of Marcos buried at LNMB.
“Kindly undertake the necessary planning and preparations to facilitate the coordination of all agencies concerned specially the provisions for ceremonial and security arrangements,” he said.
Marcos had repeatedly said the issue of the Marcos burial has long divided the nation and that it was time for closure.
But Zarate said: “Nakikita ko ay napupukaw lalo ang mga tinatawag na mga millennials, na makibahagi, makiisa sa adhikain. Hindi po talaga siya nagbigay ng purpose ng unity at healing but nagbukas pa ito ng mas malalim na sugat. Simple lang hingin, aminin ng mga Marcoses humingi sila ng tawad. Yun lang naman po. (What I am seeing is that it has awakened, especially the millenials, to take part and unite. It has not achieved the purpose of unity and healing but instead opened up deeper wounds. What is being asked is simple, for the Marcoses to admit and ask forgiveness. That’s all)”
“Who we are to forgive on behalf of the victims of martial law. It would be another wound, another injustice another slap to them,” he added.
Mags Maglana, spokesperson of Konsyensya Dabaw, said the protest actions are to remind everyone that Marcos is no hero, that thousands of victims of martial law are still seeking justice, that what the Marcoses stole from the Filipino people should be returned and that even as President Duterte repeatedly cites the 1906 Bud Dajo massacre by American colonial forces, he should also address the historical injustices committed by the Marcos dictatorship. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)