By LENVILLE SALVADOR
LAOAG CITY — Hundreds of activists, Martial Law victims and human rights advocates from all over the country gathered at the UP Bahay ng Alumni last Monday to launch the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (CARMMA) and oppose the candidacy of Bongbong Marcos for vice president.
A dozen Martial Law victims from Ilocos Sur and Ilocos Norte were among those present in the assembly. They were warmly applauded when they were recognized by the masters of ceremonies. One of those who stood to be recognized was Anakpawis Partylist nominee Randall Echanis who hails from Santiago, Ilocos Sur.
“I came here to register my opposition to the candidacy of Bongbong Marcos,” declared Jimmy Foronda, a farmer from Salcedo, Ilocos Sur in his interview with a French freelance journalist. He said that life became miserable to the people of his village when Martial Law was declared because their economic activities were disrupted by so many restrictions like curfew. He was illegally detained for two days and tortured while in military custody in 1984.
The Martial Law Victims Association of Ilocos Norte (MLVAIN) sent representatives from Piddig, Vintar, Dumalneg and Laoag to the assembly. They were happy to meet hundreds of anti- Marcos individuals and victims of Martial Law. They vowed to campaign against the candidacy of Bongbong Marcos. A balikbayan from Magsingal, Ilocos Sur also attended the launching of CARMMA.
The speakers of the assembly reminisced on life under Martial Law — the atrocities committed by the military, the plunder of the economy, the extravagance of the Marcoses and the sufferings of the people especially those incarcerated, tortured, killed and forcibly displaced.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) recalled how her family suffered under Martial Law. She related how her sister Liliosa, a campus journalist was arrested and killed while in detention in the early years of Martial Law. She too was arrested when pregnant with her first child and incarcerated in Camp Olivas. If not for the protest of the detainees in Camp Olivas, she would have not been allowed to deliver her child in the hospital.
Joanna Cariño of the Cordillera Peoples’ Alliance for her part, related how Martial Law was in the Cordillera. She was illegally arrested, tortured in a safehouse and later detained in Camp Olivas. Her three other sisters including Maria (Jingjing), now a Bantayog ng mga Bayani honoree were also illegally detained.
Martial Law opened the Cordillera for plunder. Marcos awarded 200,000 hectares of forest land to his crony Herminio Disini for the operations of the Cellophil Resources Corporation. He also approved the construction of the Chico River Dam that would flood thousands of hectares of ancestral lands. The Cordillera peoples resisted but they were repressed by the fascist dictatorial regime. Many were incarcerated for their resistance and some were killed including Kalinga chieftain Macliing Dulag.
“The crimes of the dictatorship have not seen justice up to the present and we have now the specter of a possible return of the Marcoses to Malacañang,” Cariño lamented. So, she urged those present not to vote for Bongbong Marcos.
Other speakers in the assembly include former vice president Teofisto Guingona Jr. and former senators Aquilino Pimentel Jr. and Rene Saguisag, all of who had their own stories of Martial Law to tell. They urged the “millenials” or the youth not to be deceived by the Marcoses into believing that life was better during the dictatorial regime.
In between speeches, the singing group Tres Marias, Jess Santiago and Pol Galang rendered protest songs of the Martial Law period. # nordis.net