An open letter to Imee
Thanks for asking why we are unable to “move on.” If I may read the subtext of your question, you are asking us to forget all the misery that many of us, especially among the Bangsamoro, suffered under the long, dark years of martial law.
I do not expect that you will see rhyme or reason in what I have to say. I think it is your nature, and that of your family, to be impervious to the suffering of many families who lost loved ones as victims of your father’s agents of death. You have truly learned well from your mother.
Ever the pretentious and glamorous “patroness” of the arts, your mother covered up atrocities at that time through her championship of the arts, of “the true, the good and the beautiful” in the Philippines. Remember how she ordered the slums of Tondo to be covered with white fences during the country’s hosting of an international beauty pageant?
We can’t move on, because we need to find out who has to be held accountable for the innumerable human rights abuses and other atrocities state agents committed during your father’s regime. By truth here, I mean the forensic truth, not the one that you, your family and your minions have tried to spread—that martial law was needed to stem the tide of rebellion in many parts of the country, especially here in Mindanao.
I want to know why, on Sept. 24, 1974, thousands of Maguindanawon were first herded to the Tacbil mosque at Barangay Malisbong, in the municipality of Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat province. Then, they were ordered to dig their shallow graves, after which they were shot to death in batches of around 100 individuals. What did these people do to earn the ire of the military agents at that time?
But this was not the only massacre or horrendous act done by the agents of your father. There are more untold stories of massacres, of pregnant women being killed in the most gory, inhuman ways in Sarangani Province, and of an infant’s body being shredded to pieces.
The last one happened to my husband’s niece, who was sleeping soundly while her mother (my late sister-in-law) was busy cooking lunch. A huge explosion in their small neighborhood in Damabalas, Datu Piang, suddenly jarred them, shaking their nipa-thatched house. A military plane had just dropped a massive 105 mm mortar on their neighborhood. When my sister-in-law checked on her baby, all she saw were shreds of flesh and bright red blood splattered all over their wooden porch. A tiny shrapnel from the exploded 105 mm bomb disintegrated her child’s small, fragile body.
You may argue that your father did not cause these atrocities to happen. But he was president then, the commander in chief of the Philippine military forces. As the commander in chief of martial law, your father wielded the iron hand and the resources to coerce or hire people to do the dirty job for him, for his family and for his family’s cronies.
Then and now, our collective grief has not waned, even as our relatives’ bodies have become one with the soil of our families’ ancestral homeland.
We continue to suffer from the consequences of the legacy of evil that your father left behind. And it did not help that your family preserved his body. It only made us even more committed to never forget what had happened to our family members, our friends and our colleagues.
Pray tell me, Imee, how can we move on?
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