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Teehankee’s heroes

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With Due Respect

Teehankee’s heroes

As the nation observes Kagitingan Day, may I quote portions of the separate opinion of Chief Justice Claudio Teehankee in Olaguer vs Military Commission (May 22, 1987) hailing the heroes during Ferdinand Marcos’ martial law regime.

Aquino and Diokno. “The treacherous assassination on August 21, 1983 of the martyred Benigno S. Aquino, Jr., within minutes of his arrival at the Manila International Airport, although ringed with 2,000 soldiers, shocked and outraged the conscience of the nation. After three years of exile following almost eight years of detention since martial law, Aquino, although facing the military commission’s predetermined death sentence, yet refused proper travel documents, was returning home ‘to strive for genuine national reconciliation founded on justice.’

“The late Senator Jose W. Diokno… was among the first victims of the martial law coup d’etat to be locked up with Senator Aquino. In March, 1973, all of their personal effects, including their eyeglasses were ominously returned to their homes. Their wives’ visitation privileges were suspended and they lost all contact for over a month. It turned out that Aquino had smuggled out of his cell a written statement critical of the martial law regime. In swift retribution, both of them were flown out blindfolded to the army camp at Fort Laur in Nueva Ecija and kept in solitary confinement in dark boarded cells with hardly any ventilation. When their persons were produced before the Court on habeas corpus proceedings, they were a pitiable sight, having lost about 30 to 40 lbs. in weight. Senator Diokno was to be released in September, 1974 after almost two years of detention. No charges of any kind were ever filed against him…”

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Morales and Sarmiento. “Horacio Morales, Jr., 1977 TOYM awardee for government service and then executive vice-president of the Development Academy of the Philippines, was among the hard-working government functionaries who had been radicalized and gave up their government positions. Morales went underground on the night he was supposed to receive his TOYM award…

“Countless others forfeited their lives and stand as witnesses to the tyranny and repression of the past regime. Driven by their dreams to free our motherland from poverty, oppression, iniquity and injustice, many of our youthful leaders were to make the supreme sacrifice. To mention a few: U.P. Collegian editor Abraham Sarmiento, Jr., worthy son of an illustrious member of the Court pricked the conscience of many as he asked on the front page of the college paper: Sino ang kikibo kung hindi tayo kikibo? Sino ang kikilos kung hindi tayo kikilos? Kung hindi ngayon, kailan pa? He was locked up in the military camp and released only when he was near death from a severe attack of asthma, to which he succumbed.”

Jopson, Yap and Javier. “Another TOYM awardee, Edgar Jopson, an outstanding honor student at the Ateneo University, instinctively pinpointed the gut issue in 1971—he pressed for a ‘non-partisan Constitutional Convention;’ and demanded that the then president-soon-to-turn dictator ‘put down in writing’ that he was not going to manipulate the Constitution to remove his disqualification to run for a third term or perpetuate himself in office and was called down as a ‘son of a grocer.’ When as he feared, martial law was declared, Jopson went underground to continue the struggle and was to be waylaid and killed at the age of 34 by 21 military troops as the reported head of the rebel movement in Mindanao. Another activist honor student leader, Emmanuel Yap, son of another eminent member of the Court, was to disappear on Valentine’s Day in 1976 at the young age of 24, reportedly picked up by military agents in front of Channel 7 in Quezon City, and never to be seen again.

“One of our most promising young leaders, Evelio B. Javier, 43, unarmed, governor of the province of Antique at 28, a Harvard-trained lawyer, was mercilessly gunned down with impunity in broad daylight at 10 a.m. in front of the provincial capitol building by six mad-dog killers who riddled his body with 24 bullets fired from M-16 armalite rifles… This was to be the last straw and the bloodless EDSA revolt was soon to unfold.”

Comments to chiefjusticepanganiban@hotmail.com

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TAGS: artemio v. panganiban, Benigno Aquino Jr., Claudio teehankee, Filipino heroes, heroes, Inquirer Opinion, jose diokno, Supreme Court, With Due Respect
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