By MONICA CUTIN
URDANETA CITY, Pangasinan — Different groups paid tribute to three members of the New People’s Army (NPA) killed in Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur by government forces.
Two member organizations of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Ilocos, in separate statements, hailed them for the “selfless service” for the people and revolution.
“Pulang saludo at pinakamataas na parangal at pagpupugay ang iginagawad ng Kabataang Makabayan- Ilocos kina Kasamang Finela ‘Ka Ricky’ Mejia, Julius ‘Ka Goyo’ Marquez, at Eniabel ‘Ka Onor’ Balunos para sa makabuluhang buhay na kanilang inialay sa dakilang mithiin ng rebolusyonaryong pakikibaka ng mamamayan ng Ilocos at ng buong bansa,” said Karlo Agbannuag, of Kabataang Makabayan Ilocos.
The underground youth leaders also expressed their condolences to the families and friends of the three martyrs. He also thanked them for the support and understanding they extended to the three while they were in the NPA.
Meanwhile, Julian Sadiri of the Pambansang Katipunan ng Magbubukid-Ilocos noted the people would forever remember those who have given their lives for the masses as pillars of the revolution.
“Sila ay walang pagod na nag-organisa sa hanay ng masang magsasaka ng Ilocos. Naglilinaw na ang ugat ng karalitaan ng mga magsasaka ay bunga ng pangangamkam at monopolyo sa lupa ng iilang panginoong maylupa at gahaman,” he said.
According to him, the three were instrumental in providing guiding the peasant revolutionary movement it fighting for their rights, and gather victories through the years.
“Ito ang buhay na may dignidad at may karangalan, ang makibaka para sa katwiran at paglaya,” he said.
The 81st Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army and municipal police claimed the three were killed in an encounter in Barangay Namatican on the evening of February 13. According to them, Marquez and Balunos were the secretary and deputy secretary of KLG South Ilocos, respectively, while Majia was also a ranking officer.
However, the NPA’s Chadli Molintas Command (CMC-NPA) refuted the report, saying some witneses saw the military drag their comrades out of a house and executed them. The command said the military’s action towards their comrades were violations of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL).
Family members and friends who saw them at the morgue said the bodies were peppered with bullets and bore signs of desecration. All three suffered gunshot wounds in the heads, consistent with the statement made by CMC-NPA. Marquez, in particular, had a bullet hole below his jaw. His family believes the bullet they removed that was lodged on top of his skull made the wound.
Young revolutionary martyr
Meanwhile, Outcrop, the official student publication of the University of the Philippines Baguio, also gave honor and tribute to Mejia, a former staff of the paper and alumna of the university. They also recognized the martyrdom of her two comrades and condemned the killing.
“Tunay na kahanga-hanga ang katapangan ni Finela na mas piniling ialay ang kanyang buhay para sa rebolusyonaryong pakikibaka at naging kasapi ng Bagong Hukbong Bayan kapalit ng tahimik at komportable na buhay,” Outcrop said in a statement.
“Isa itong hamon upang paigtingin ang mga panawagan sa patuloy na pagpapalaya ng bayan at isulong ang batayang karapatan ng mamamayan. Isa rin itong panawagan upang isulong ang Peace Talks sa pagitan ng pamahalaan at ng CPP-NPA-NDF,” the paper added.
According to her contemporaries, after finishing her Bachelor of Arts in Language and Literature in UP Baguio, Mejia decided to work as fulltime activists in Baguio before returning to her home region of Ilocos. She even wrote a poem, a message on why she chose the people’s struggle over a comfortable life.
“Wala ni isa sa ating nag nagsimula ng may kahandaan.Kung mayroon mang naghulma sa kung ano tayo ngayon, iyon ay ang ating kahandaang matutunan ang mga bagay sapagkat naniniwala tayo na lahat ay dumadaan sa proseso. Mas maging handa tayo ngayon sa paggampan ng mas mabibigat na gawaing kung tutuusin ay kaya nating tugunan. Habang lumilipas ang panahon, lalong lumalakas ang tawag ng pangangailangan,” Mejia wrote in her poem published in Outcrop Volume 35 Issue 2, July 2008.
It was in Ilocos that she immersed herself with the issues of the farmers and fisherfolk. Her friends and fellow members in the different organizations she joined said her witnessing of the plight of the poor strengthened her resolve and made her decide personally to join the armed resistance.
Activist paid their tribute and last respect to Mejia on February 21 at her wake in Urdaneta City Pangasinan. During the program, a man, identified as Efren Collado, recorded a video despite advice to refrain from taking photos and videos except for those identified by the family. When the marshals confronted him, the man introduced himself as a relative, but family members refuted his claim. He also denied taking videos, but after checking the phone, the marshals located the videos and deleted them.
Today, February 22, family and friends will bury her remains in the Urdaneta Memorial Park. She was 31 years old when bullets from the military ended her service to the people. # nordis.net