By KIMBERLIE NGABIT-QUITASOL
BAGUIO CITY — Nostalgic was how Chancellor Raymund Rovillos of the University of the Philippines Baguio decribed his feeling during a forum against tyranny at the Saint Louis School on the 45th anniversary of the declartion of martial, September 21.
“This very same hall was where we used to gather in the 1980’s during the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship,” Rovillos said.
“Today we are back to the same hall because we can no longer be silent as martial law is again rearing its ugly face,” Rovillos said.
Rovillos said that the extrajudicial killings, vilification of vocal critics of government and attacks against institutions that upholds human rights and justice today are reminiscent of the Marcos regime.
Rovillos said that martial law undermined human rights and disregarded due process and the rule of law which is similar to what present administration is doing. He mentioned as examples the present administration’s maneuvers against the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) and the Supreme Court, and attacks against its open critics and media institutions.
“If government is the one violating our freedoms, we must rise up and fight, we should not allow tyranny to return,” Rovillos said.
Eppie Blanco, a Baguio resident, said that she was a researcher during the 1972 Constitutional Convention. She said the present administration’s push for a change in the form of government reminds her of the martial law period.
Blanco said that a change in the form of government requires changes in the Philippine Constitution. “Once the Constitution if opened for changes, those in power can always manipulate the process and put in provisions that will serve their interest, I have witnessed how it was done during Marcos’ time,” she said.
She said the Constitutional change during Marcos time aimed “to perpetuate him in power” that the process was railroaded.
Blanco added that a change in the form of government also requires a referendum. She said that during martial law, Marcos maid sure that the barangay assembly coincided with the referendum and used barangay officials to ensure that the turn out of the referendum would be in his favor.
“I see this happening again with Duterte’s campaign for a federal form of government and the postponement of the barangay elections,” she said.
To Joanna Cariño, a martial law survivor and chairperson of the Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), the EJKs, attacks against government critics and human rights violations under the Duterte administration “is like deja vu”.
Cariño said the EJKs, illegal arrests, and other forms of rights violations against the people under the Duterte regime is reminiscent of the Marcos martial rule. She said the like the martial law period, thousands have fallen victim to EJKs under the Duterte regime’s anti-illegal drug campaign. She added that the present all out war policy against the Communist Party of te Philippines (CPP)-National Democratic Front of te Philippines (NDFP)-New People’s Army (NPA) continue to target civilians and activists just like before.
Cariño said that under the all out war policy of Duterte, indigenous people’s leaders are being killed and indigenous communities are being bombed. She said that military operations do not only violate the civil and political rights of the people but also their socio-economic and cultural rights. She said that military operations disrupts farming and other economic activities in the communities. She added that military operations also destroys rice fields and even forests, citing as example the air strikes in Abra and other parts of the country earlier this year.
“Today, is indeed a national day of protest, not withstanding Duterte’s declaration, we are protesting tyranny, the killings in the name of ‘tokhang’, the martial law in Mindanao, the US-led war in Marawi and the all out war policy that displaced indigenous peoples from their communities,” she said.
Cariño said that like in the past, before Marcos declared martial law, people and groups protesting the killings and injustices are slowly gathering. She said that today,just like before, protest actions are building up.
“All protests must come together, groups and individuals must unite and work together against tyranny,” she said.
Cariño said that the martial law experience taught the Filipino people to organize themselves and build unity to fight for their rights. She said the people learned that there is no other recourse against tyranny but to resist.
“The Filipino people was able to topple a dicator, let us draw strength from this experience, never again should we allow martial law in our country,” Cariño said.
Paul Soriano, of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), called on his fellow youth to learn from history. He asked the youth to listen to the stories those who have fought against the Marcos dictatorship and draw wisdom and inspiration to face the challenges of today. “We, the youth are indeed the hope of our country, inorder to prevent a repeat of one of the darkest period of our history, we must look back and learn from past eperiences,” Soriano said.
Soriano pointed out that the youth played a crucial role on ousting the Marcos dictatorship.
He said that the youth of today must organize themselves, strengthen their unity and forge wider alliances to fight against today’s fascism and tyranny. # nordis.net