DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 September) — Mindanao suffered so many massacres and other human rights violations in the run-up to and during martial law under Ferdinand Edralin Marcos but the 94-year old Defense Minister of the Marcos dictatorship — Juan Ponce Enrile — now claims no massacre ever happened, not even the Jabidah Massacre of 1968 that gave birth to the Moro liberation fronts, alleging it was merely “invented” by then opposition senator Benigno Aquino, Jr.
“During martial law, there were no massacres like what happened in Mendiola during the supposed democratic government of Cory Aquino,” Enrile, who broke away from Marcos in 1986 and served as Defense Secretary of President Corazon Aquino for a few months said in a tete-a-tete with Marcos’ only son and namesake, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr.. Marcos ran for Vice President in 2016, lost to Leni Robredo by some 200,000 votes and filed an electoral protest.
In the video “A Witness to History” whose first part Marcos Jr. posted on social media on September 20, the eve of the 46th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, he asked Enrile, whom he called “Tito” (Uncle), about the “evolution” of the decision that led to the declaration of martial law.
“It started when they invented the Jabidah Massacre,” Enrile replied. “I say they invented because until now I have not heard of anyone who complained about anyone being massacred in Corregidor. No one,” he said.
“The only one who was, who appeared as a member of the trainees, supposedly the Muslim trainees in Corregidor — that fellow who swam from across Corregidor to Cavite which was the invention of Montano and Ninoy Aquino and because of that outburst, political outburst of Ninoy, we lost Sabah and then that Jabidah massacre affected the political stature of the Marcos regime, followed by the Plaza Miranda (bombing) in 1971,” Enrile said.
The lone survivor, Jibin Arula, had narrated what happened to the trainees from their recruitment in Sulu in December 1967, their arrival in Corregidor, how soem trainees were allegedly brought to Manila but never returned, and how they were made to line up and were fired upon on March 18, 1968, as soon as they arrived at the airstrip supposedly for their flight to Manila.
The Jabidah Massacre’s 50th anniversary was commemorated in Corregidor and Marawi City on March 18 this year.
“Lie of the highest order”
“This is a lie of the highest order. This is a history being revised in favor of the Marcoses,” Guiamel Alim, Executive Dicrector of the Cotabato City-based Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society (CBCS) told MindaNews.
Alim said the public should be reminded that Enrile “invented the ambush on him to justify martial law.”
Amina Rasul, President of the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy (PCID) told MindaNews that so much data and documentation have been collected about the massacres during martial law. “As to the Jabidah Massacre, the lone survivor Jibin Arula was not a man skilled in intrigue and subterfuge. Besides, if the massacre did not happen, we in Jolo would have known as you can’t keep such a secret in a community.”
Drieza Lininding of the Moro Consensus Group in Marawi City said “yung tete a tete ni Enrile at BBM (Marcos) para lang yun sa mga blind followers, hindi para sa atin na inaalam ang katotohanan!” (Enrile and BBM’s tete a tete is only for the blind followers, not for us who seek the truth).
Fiction, fable fantasies
Fomer Senate President Aquilino Pimentel, thrice detained under martial law, said: “Alas! up to now, 46 years after the people dismantled that horrible blight in our country’s history called Martial Law, Marcos’ old fiction master-spinner still seems bent on twisting the barbaric, brutal and harsh historical realities like the Jabidah massacre that was perpetrated by the Marcos regime as one of the fabricated foundations to justify the declaration of Martial Rule in the 1970s.”
“In short, such a puerile attempt is but one of the many fable fantasies foisted by Marcos and his minions to make him look like a hero, not a heel, in the eyes of our people. Neither is it meant for the people’s entertainment, but to set the stage for the return to power of some insensitive siblings of the Horseman of the Apocalypse so that they could again ride roughshod over the hard-earned freedoms, rights and liberties of the Filipino people. May our people see through those Trojan Horse maneuvers and exercise their freedom to choose their leaders wisely and only for the good and welfare of our country and people,” Pimentel told MindaNews.
Mohagher Iqbal, chair of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s Peace Implementing panel said Enrile “masterminded his own ambush and he confessed to this but later he denied.”
Iqbal told MindaNews the massacre of over a thousand persons in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat in 1974 was “during martial law.”
For Suara Bangsamoro (Voice of the Bangsamoro), Enrile’s “delusional claim that no massacres, not even the Jabidah massacre, happened was a treacherous lie intended to erase from our memory the murderous ways of Marcos’ martial law, and in a way, absolve him of his crimes as the architect of martial law.”
“This farce of an interview with the dictator’s son, both of them showing no remorse over the unspeakable tragedy brought by martial law on our people, speaks so much of their evil character. The whitewashing of the dark history under Marcos dictatorship is a vile propaganda that fuels the Marcoses’ bid to return to Malacañang. But we will not be deceived. We will never forget,” Suara Bangsamoro said in a statement issued Saturday night.
Suara Bangsamoro said they have “long clamored for justice” for their relatives who were brutally killed by state forces and paramilitary under Marcos and Enrile’s denial of massacres committed during Marcos’ martial law “is another deplorable act of injustice against the memories of slain innocents and martyrs.”
The group recalled how martial ravaged Moro communities, “claimed 200,000 Moro lives and caused a diaspora of Moros out of Mindanao that even forced half a million to flee to Sabah, Malaysia.”
It said they will “never forget the Jabidah massacre” of 1968 and the massacres in the run-up to martial law and during martial law, among them the June 19, 1971 Manili Massacre of around 70 Moros inside a mosque in Carmen, North Cotabato, the Tacub Massacre in Lanao del Norte also in 1971 where at least 40 Moros were murdered allegedly by the Philippine Army at a checkpoint while they were returning home after a failed attempt to vote in a special election.
Of all the massacres under Marcos’ martial law, the Palimbang Massacre in September 1974 in Sultan Kudarat province, stands out for having the most number of victims: 1,500.
The Report of the Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission (TJRC) that was set up by government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2014 noted that 1,500 Moro men and boys held in a mosque were allegedly killed by the military and paramilitary forces while an unknown number of women and girls were raped inside a naval vessel anchored offshore.
On September 24, 2014, four decades after the massacre, the chair of the Commission on Human Rights officially acknowledged the massacre in a visit to the site and proposed that the survivors file claims for compensation with the Human Rights Victims Compensation Board (HRVCB).
According to the TJRC report, the “Tran Incident” refers to a large-scale military campaign against the Moro National Liberation Front in Central Mindanao in June-August 1973. The report said that during the “Listening Process,” participants spoke of the massacre of Moro civilians from Barangay Populacion in the town of Kalamansig, Sultan Kudarat province by military forces during that campaign. They said soldiers separated the men and women; the men were confined in a military camp, interrogated, and tortured, while the women with their children were taken aboard naval vessels and raped. In the end, the men as well as the women and children were killed.
The TJRC report also noted that during a Listening Process session in Tawi-Tawi, participants shared their memory of the ‘Tong Umapuy Massacre” of 1983 where a Philippine Navy ship allegedly opened fire on a passenger boat and killed 57 persons on board — passengers who were reportedly on their way to an athletic event in Bongao.
Outside Bangsamoro areas
Massacres did not occur only in Bangsamoro areas but in other parts of Mindanao as well, recorded by the Task Force Detainees (TFD and church-based groups.
In August 1979, Enrile sent Defense deputy minister Carmelo Barbero to Davao City to investigate the killing of church workers in Catalunan Grande, following a strongly-worded pastoral letter of then Archbishop Antonio Mabutas, who condemned “the reign of terror in the countryside.” The letter of Mabutas, an Ilocano like Marcos and Enrile, is believed to have been the first pastoral letter to condemn human rights violations under Marcos.
Journalist Boy Mordeno, a human rights worker in Northern Mindanao in the 1980s recalls having documented several cases of massacre. He distinctly remembers the Bucag Massacre in Gingoog City in 1984 because it was “brutal kaayo” (too brutal), where a family of an opposition councilor, Renato Bucag, his wife Helen and teenage son Reneboy were killed by suspected police and Tadtad paramilitary elements. “Hack and stab wounds all over their bodies,” he said. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)