An abominable martial law legacy
SELDA (SAMAHAN ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) and Hustisya (Victims United for Justice) join the families of the victims of the Maguindanao massacre in remembering the 1,000th day since the killing of 58 of their kin, including one who remains missing to this day.
Massacres have been a common fare since the dark days of martial law. Who will ever forget the Jabidah massacre that fell close to 60 Moro recruits for Ferdinand Marcos’ “Operation Merdeka,” the alleged plan for the annexation of Sabah to the Philippines in 1968?
Then there was the Escalante massacre on Sept. 20, 1985, where members of the Regional Special Action Force and the Civilian Home Defense Force opened fire at some 5,000 sugar-workers, peasants, fisherfolk, students, church people and professionals who were staging a protest rally at the town center of Escalante, resulting in the death of some 20 civilians and the wounding of 30 others.
After Marcos, there was the Mendiola massacre in 1987, where 13 peasants were killed under Cory Aquino’s watch.
It has been 40 years since the declaration of martial law. Yet, like the victims of the Maguindanao massacre in 2009, the victims of these earlier massacres have yet to be served justice.
Impunity is an abominable legacy of the Marcos dictatorship and those who succeeded him, and so is injustice. Unfortunately, President Aquino, the son of Ninoy, has not put an end to this atrocious legacy; he is, in fact, perpetuating it.
The families of the victims of these massacres and other human rights violations have learned and earned a more lasting legacy—to fight repressive rulers and seek justice in whatever way they can.
We have been in this struggle for decades, we have raged and fought a dictator and those who tried to follow in his footsteps. But perpetrators have simply come and gone, unpunished. It is incumbent upon the Aquino administration to end the culture of impunity that promotes the continuing violation of human rights. Until he does, we will continue to hold him responsible and accountable for these crimes.
We have gone to every corner of the country, if not the world, to demand justice and ask people to support our call. Let us continue these efforts in the coming days, weeks, even years. From victims, let us rise to be the defenders of the people and continue to fight impunity.
—BONI ILAGAN, vice chair,
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