The threat was unambiguous. If Bong Andal testified against one of the Philippines’ most powerfulpolitical families about their alleged involvement in the November 23, 2009 massacre on the southern island of Mindanao, his family would suffer. “They came again last month, showing our pictures to my relatives, letting them know that they’re watching us,” Andal told me by phone this week.
Those threats – and the Philippine government’s inability or unwillingness to stop them – speak volumes about the glacial pace of judicial proceedings against alleged perpetrators of the Maguindanao massacre, in which the Ampatuan family’s “private army” murdered 58 people. Four years after the bodies of the victims were located off of a highway outside of the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao province, the massacre remains a shameful exemplar of impunity in the Philippines.
The basic facts of the case are undisputed. Armed men paid by the Ampatuan family, including local police and soldiers, stopped a convoy that included the wife of opposition politician Esmael Mangudadatu, his supporters and family members, and more than 30 media workers.
Mangudadatu had sent them to file his candidacy for provincial governor in elections scheduled for the following year.
The gunmen herded everyone in the convoy to a hilltop a few miles away and promptly executed them. Many were buried in mass graves excavated by a backhoe operated by Bong Andal. In his statements to prosecutors, Andal said he witnessed members of the Ampatuan militia shoot several of the victims. The crime was the worst single attack against members of the media in history and one of the Philippines’ worst single incidents of political violence.
Four years later, the case is in effective judicial limbo. A total of 94 suspects remain at large. Bail petitions and testimony challenges by the defense lawyers of the 101 suspects in custody have overwhelmed the court.
But the problem of the Maguindanao massacre case is more than a failure of judicial process. It is about whether those threatening Bong Andal rather than the authorities control the proceedings. It’s a cruel reminder to activists, journalists, and politicians critical of the status quo that they too might be targeted with impunity. The human rights rhetoric of the government of President Benigno Aquino III has not transformed the dangerous reality on the ground. As Aquino enters the last half of his six-year term in office, he should recognize that he will be ultimately judged by his actions, not his words.
The Philippine Senate passed resolution 642 declaring every 23rd of November as a National Day to End Impunity. November 23 is the anniversary of the Maguindanao Massacre that saw 58 people being killed. Read more
Two years ago, 58 people were brutally killed in the province of Maguindanao. It doesn’t matter whether 32 journalists were included in the massacre. Their murder was political. It was brutal, and unthinkable. And it was mass murder that shattered talismans.
Report of the humanitarian and fact-finding mission to Maguindanao pointed to the Ampatuans. And the story laid out by the fact-finding mission reveals a sad unthinkable truth. Evidence were poorly handled, and the site was contaminated. Remains were poorly looked after. The investigation favored testimonial evidence rather than physical evidence. The convoy was stopped 300 meters away from a Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit camp. Suspect vehicles still unaccounted for. People in the area feared for their lives. The Ampatuans held a weapons cache that were not fully confiscated. The road where the massacre happened lead to the spot where bodies were buried. Whether Ampatuan or Mangudadatus, both were armed. And the missing remain.
These facts point to an unspeakable truth about the Maguindanao Massacre. Martial Law imposed by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo at the time may have adversely aggravate the search for justice rather than helped it along. All roads leading to justice for the victims is a treacherous, dangerous one riddled with minefield.
Maguindanao is a constant reminder of what is it like on the fringes of civilization. It is a reminder of what the law is, and what it stands for out there in the boondocks of our frontier. In two years, it mattered little. Not much has changed, because not too much can change. It too is evidence that Autonomous Mindanao can not exist. At least not yet because the safeguard against this kind of abuse isn’t in place. There is much incapacity in the area, where the rich and powerful become de facto lords. It is medieval.
The mass murder at Maguindanao is a starling reminder of how broken our Republic is. It doesn’t matter if the people who died there were journalists. It doesn’t matter if the people who died there were carrying documents so a Mangudadatus could run for public office. What matters is that 58 people were brutally slaughtered like animals. What matters is how little in this nation we value life. What matters is that violence such as this must never, ever be repeated. What matters is this. The thirst for justice must be quenched, and the blood spilled make our Republic stronger.
In seeking closure to the 2004 and 2007 elections, which type of book (history or law) should be thrown at the fraudsters first?
The truth has a funny way of coming out regardless of how it is suppressed.
After years of hiding and running from the law, former election supervisor of Maguindanao Lintang Bedol decided to surface last week and attest to what many already knew: that fraud had been committed in the 2004 presidential and 2007 senatorial elections favoring Mrs Arroyo.
The suspended regional ARMM governor Zaldy Ampatuan who is contemplating a life in prison for complicity in the Maguindanao massacre has also implicated Mrs Arroyo last week in a sworn statement.
When such evidence had been suppressed, some anti-GMA stalwarts sought to prod it out of complicit subalterns through a Truth Commission. Now that some of these subalterns have confessed to their involvement, they seem incoherent about the way forward.
Take Sen Chiz Escudero for instance. His proposal for a joint congressional fact-finding committee to determine the real winner of the 2004 presidential elections was echoed by his ex-partymate and vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda who suggested putting the picture of Fernando Poe, Jr her runningmate in Malacanang as a way of “correcting history” if it is proven that he won against Mrs Arroyo in 2004.
Such a move would be frivolous according to the senate president, Juan Ponce Enrile, who believes that prosecuting the case now lies with the Department of Justice whose chief says it is ready to handle it. Creating a separate body to deliberate over the issue would only impede the investigation. The point of Escudero and Legarda is to correct historically the results of the 2004 election, the point of Enrile is to determine criminal liability and prosecute the case against those found liable.
Congressman Ted Casino on the other hand wants Congress to go beyond the issue of who might have won or lost in the 2004 election and look at investigating and perhaps legislating ways to address vulnerabilities in our electoral system to protect it from manipulation in the future. A good point I might add. The problem however is how to deal with an issue that would already be under the jurisdiction of the courts.
Perhaps the best way forward is to expedite the legal proceedings first and then to use whatever evidence, insights or lessons uncovered in the process to inform future legislative proposals. While correcting the record books for posterity might be essential for the people involved, there will be ample opportunity to pursue this in the future. Right now, perhaps we need to let the proverbial wheels of justice turn.
The sooner we can get on with this, the sooner we can move on.
It’s been a year since 58 people were killed in Ampatuan, Maguindanao and yet despite the short span of time, the memory of the gruesome events of that day seem to slowly slip into oblivion from the Philippines’ collective memory.
In a forum held last week at the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communications, members of the media, relatives of the victims, and even a representative from the Aquino administration called upon the public to never forget the events on those isolated hills in Maguindanao which shocked the world.
According to veteran journalist and former ABS-CBN Vice President for News Maria Ressa, the Maguindanao Massacre was, in CIA parlance, a blowback. The term first came about after US and British intelligence agencies failed to assess the far-reaching effects of removing Mossadegh in Iran, which eventually resulted to the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and the installation of Ayatollah Khomeini. Ressa also cited the 9/11 attacks as another case of blowback after the CIA earlier armed and funded the Taliban in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, not realizing that the US would become the later target.
The Maguindanao Massacre was the result of a dysfunctional counter-insurgency strategy where the government armed and financed local political families in the fight against insurgent groups. These families, seeing that their mandate requires every available means to end the insurgency in their areas, exercised their power with impunity, ultimately using it even against ordinary civilians and in the case of the massacre, the media. The rule of impunity by political families in the provinces has been going on since the Marcos years and yet it has largely been passed off as usual or in some cases, acceptable. This climate of tacit approval, or worse apathy, has made the massacre possible. “We have known about it for decades, and we have done nothing much about it,” said Ressa.
But the massacre would not have been brought to the attention of the nation, much more the world, had it not been for the inclusion of journalists among its victims. As the Human Rights Watch report chronicled, there have been other cases of torture and abuse, and summary executions conducted by the Ampatuans long before that fateful day in November. But details of those incidents were merely passed around people and places as rumors, being that nobody who witnessed them was still alive.
Seeing that a new family was willing to challenge the much-feared Ampatuans, Mindanao-based Philippine Daily Inquirer reporter and would have been Maguindanao Massacre victim Aquiles Zunio said he decided to join his colleagues in covering the filing of certificates of candidacy by the Mangudadatus on that day. He only alighted the convoy after knowing that a colleague who was at odds with the Ampatuans also wanted to cover the event. Fearing what might happen to his colleague, Zunio stayed behind to convince him to reconsider. That act of concern saved him from the massacre.
It would be a different case however for Reynafe Momay-Castillo’s father Reynaldo. Reynaldo was a photographer for the Midland Review and he was part of the convoy which was supposed to cover the filing of the Mangudadatu’s certificates of candidacy. Unlike the other victims though, Reynaldo’s body up to now has not been recovered. Despite not having had to opportunity to at least see the body of her father, Reynafe said that it would be important for the people to always “think of the lives that were taken,” and that the people should not let the deaths of the victims mean nothing.
In an effort to continuously push for justice for the massacre victims, several journalists, non-government organizations, and concerned individuals formed the November 23 Movement. National Union of Journalists in the Philippines President Rowena Paraan said that the movement has been instrumental in ensuring continued coverage on the latest developments on the Maguindanao Massacre case. The movement and several of its partners have also been responsible for the studies of not less than 70 of the victims’ children. Aside from their commitments within the country, the movement has also been engaging international organizations and agencies asking them for support and assistance in putting pressure on the Philippine government hasten the resolution of the case.
The problem in resolving the case however lies in the institutional weaknesses of the Philippine justice system. And despite the efforts of the Aquino administration to speed up the prosecution of the case, the agents of the judiciary do not fall under the purview of the President or any of his secretaries. We must not forget that the courts are under the Supreme Court. “We certainly don’t want this trial to last longer than it should,” said Presidential Communications Operations Office Sonny Coloma.
According to the calculations of some of the government prosecutors involved in the case, the resolution might take 6 years in the regional trial court, 6 more in the appellate court, and another 6 in the Supreme Court, a total of 18 years before the victims finally and hopefully get justice. Attorney Rico Ayson, counsel for the massacre victims’ families however hopes that the number of years in each stage could be reduced to 4 years, which would mean 12 years. And this he said can only be possible with sustained public pressure for that long period. Whether or not that is possible remains to be seen.
Ayson was not able to discuss much of the case due to the sub judice doctrine, but he said that at present, there are 196 accused, 46 among them have pleaded not guilty, while some have filed petitions for bail. Unlike preconceived notions about the trial, Ayson said that the hearing on the case itself have yet to begin. The court has been only been hearing the petitions for bail and it would might take a while considering the number of suspects in the case. We must not forget that each of those suspects is entitled to due process accorded by the Constitution. And in the words of Secretary Coloma: “Let us remember that despite our weaknesses, we are still a nation of laws.”
As an addendum to Ressa’s call for public vigilance against dysfunctional socio-political structures, Coloma said that “the burden of protecting journalists does not lie only on the shoulders of media practitioners but on every member of Philippine society.” He said that while media practitioners may exercise some form of power with the stories they make and the institutions they represent, they are still vulnerable to threats, intimidation and harm. That is why every Filipino should also protect journalists as journalists struggle to deliver the truth about every Filipino.
For weeks now, the country has shared the shock, horror and agony of the people of Maguindanao over the slaughter of innocents. This national outrage has increased as securing justice faces hurdle after hurdle, both in Maguindanao and in Manila. Our people want justice, and they want results; the government wants us to believe that it must impose Martial Law for justice to be accomplished, and for peace and order to finally prevail in Maguindanao.
Now, for the first time since 1972, the chief executive has seen fit to take this unprecedented step. But unlike 1972, there are many Constitutional safeguards in place to ensure that martial law is an option taken with full transparency and under legislative oversight.
The people of Maguindanao, the people of the Philippines and the troops on this mission, deserve every assurance that this act will, indeed, result in justice being served and peace being restored. If the declaration of Martial Law is not motivated by the enforcement of the rule of law, but is rather an attempt to expand authority by means of the military it will be a grave abuse of power and reckless endangerment of the lives of our brave soldiers.
The Constitution is clear: martial law can only be declared upon the existence of an actual invasion or rebellion, and when public safety requires it.
Is there truly a legal basis for declaring martial law in Maguindanao?
Is the restoration of peace and order the real reason for the imposition of martial law or are there other reasons yet unseen?
Is it to instill fear, given the very negative connotations of martial law?
Can we take Mrs. Arroyo’s word when she is largely responsible for the creation of this monster?
Does it not indicate the state’s inability to enforce its laws that it had to resort to something as drastic as martial law, despite its possible repercussions on the economy?
The President need not declare martial law. She could have swiftly ordered that charges be filed against all those who carried out the lawless orders of Mayor Andal Ampatuan, Jr. She could have directed that all those charged be preventively suspended. She could have instructed the Prosecutors to ask the 11 Courts to deny bail to all those charged with the commission of this heinous crime and let the succession of local officials under the Local Government Code take effect, to ensure that the local government will continue to function.
This extraordinary step fuels much speculation on the real intention behind it.
The people must demand an explanation of the circumstances that led the administration to resort to this action, how the President intends to use its vast powers, and for how long.
The rule of law must prevail; constitutional processes must prevail. The courts cannot be abolished there or elsewhere. The President of the Philippines remains accountable not only to the Congress of the Philippines, but to the People of the Philippines for taking this course.
We must also demand that both houses of Congress meet, as required by the Constitution, within 48 hours of a martial law declaration, without need of the President making a call for Congress to convene.
While the Constitution expects both houses to merge for the purpose of voting on this specific imposition of martial law, it also expects our lawmakers never to surrender their identity as representatives of the people.
I appeal to my colleagues in Congress to come together immediately and ascertain the validity of this imposition.
Congress must muster a quorum. Congress must not be a rubber stamp. Congress must ask the right questions, and it must act now.
This is a time for all our people to be sober, discerning, vigilant and unafraid.
Workable peace is possible only if supported by a broad, active and informed peace constituency.
I will assume direct responsibility for the revival of the peace process with the MILF.
I will reconstitute the peace panel with men and women of integrity who will directly report to me. There was a time when the peace process was doing well until the Arroyo Government began to use the peace negotiation as prop to political survival. I will see counsel from peace advocates like former OPAPP Secretary Deles, Peace Panel Head Afable and former Notre Dame University President, Fr. Mercado to put back on track the credibility needed in the peace process.
I will ensure the participation of various Mindanao stakeholders – Muslims, Lumad, Christian settlers – in the negotiating panels and working groups;
I will create a niche for the participation of other Muslim “gatekeepers” particularly traditional and LGU leaders, MNLF, the Ulama, Bangsamoro civil society.
Request the Bishops-Ulama Conference to submit a report on the results of the consultations it conducted in the aftermath of the failed MOA-AD; likewise with all known civil society organizations and academic institutions which undertook similar consultations or researches in the past year, such as the University Network on the Mindanao Question led by the UP School of Law, the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, the Philippine Council for Islam and Democracy, and the Al Mujadilah Foundation.
The results of all these processes should be collated, with key points of agreement and contention identified for inputting into the peace mechanism, as appropriate. On this basis, a mechanism should be devised for these groups to participate in the continuing dialogue on and monitoring of their recommendations.
I will immediately convene the Oversight Committee on the Organic Act on Muslim Mindanao (RA 9054) and complete a review and assessment of the implementation of the law. I will issue an Executive Order reviving/extending the function of the Oversight Committee, which was last convened before 2004 and which never completed its task, and impose a deadline for the completion of its work.
I will order the Department of Foreign Affairs, with the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (OPAPP), to give a report on the tripartite review of the GRP-MNLF Final Peace Agreement and cull the “immediate doable” measures that government can undertake.
I will order an inventory of the backlog on assistance to MNLF rebel returnees, as the basis for determining the requirements and timetable for addressing the gap and closing the existing program, while a new program is crafted in cooperation with concerned LGUs and approximating the international standards on DDR (Disarmament, Demobilization and Rehabilitation) of former combatants.
We will review the recent appointment of the Commission to ensure they are in accordance with the law and rationalize the NCIP plantilla to professionalize the bureaucracy to do its mandate under the law, including the delineation of ancestral domains (AD) and support the development of the Natural Resource Management Plan (NRMP).
I will work with IP communities and all land and resource-management related agencies for a thorough review of all Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles (CADTs), Certificate of Ancestral Land Titles (CALTs), and Certificates of Free Prior and Informed Consent (CFPICs) issued towards weeding out those issued defectively, fast-tracking decisions on all pending applications, and providing support for development and implementation of the ADRMP for areas covered by CADTs.
I will ensure basic education, health, and sanitation facilities and services for IP communities.
I will look into the immediate situation of security of IP communities in areas of ongoing armed conflict.
Internally Displaced Families
Families displaced by conflict will receive full support to be able to return to their communities of origin, if they so desire.
I will put up a compensatory fund which will provide shelter, food and livelihood assistance to enable the estimated 30,000 internally displaced families to return to their homes.
Lawless and Criminal Elements
I will dismantle private armies and take a firm hand against all forms of lawlessness
I will ensure the prosecution of all identified perpetrators of the Ampatuan massacre. I am aware that the families of the victims and witnesses of the crime are vulnerable to harassment as well as bribes to weaken the case. I will ensure that families of the victims and witnesses of the crime will receive adequate protection and support as they work for justice.
The Maguindanao massacre was not just a local Maguindanao problem. It was abetted by the national government with government policies and resources. DND should submit immediately the result of its investigation and inventory of the arms and ammunition confiscated from the Ampatuans and identify civilian and military leaders responsible for the build up of arsenal of the Ampatuans.
I will revoke EO546. Never again will public funds be used to support and maintain a private security force.
KFR incidents are national security concerns. I will commit full budgetary support to PACER in establishing and implementing an anti-kidnapping strategy in Mindanao; provide full support for the filing of charges against suspected perpetrators, including full protection for released victims and their families.
Under my watch, I will ensure that all security forces will be insulated from partisan politics. I will implement the Defense Reform Program started by former DND Secretary Nonong Cruz which aimed to build a professional AFP. A professional AFP along with a professional PNP committed solely to defend the constitution and uphold the law is the key to the dismantling of private armies and implementing the gun control. All forms of excuses for self-protection can be abandoned only when citizens trust state security forces.
We will aim to improve the ratio of security forces to our growing population.
All appointments in the AFP and PNP will be based on merit and performance.
Forces on the ground will be provided with adequate provisions, equipment and training to be able to discharge their duties effectively.
Setting National Policy: Performance- and outcome-driven over-investments in education, health, and employment interventions.
I will match every peso invested by 4th and 5th class LGUs in basic education, maternal and child health care and potable water and latrines.
Moreover, I will provide additional support to performing LGU’s so they can fast track filling the gaps in attaining targets for their education, health and sanitation programs. In education I will support LGU efforts to attain 100% basic education enrolment, lowering dropout rates and increasing completion rates.
Transparent and proper use of public funds
I will ensure that all fund releases to all LGUs will be transparent and its utilization fully accounted for.
I will support DBM’s effort started by former Secretary Emilia Boncodin in regularly publishing and disseminating all releases to the LGUs.
I commend COA for their fearless reports which exposed politically sensitive cases such as the Jocjoc Bolante fertilizer scam. I will ensure adequate support to state auditors for proper and accurate audit reports. And their reports will not end in filing cabinets. The OP will take the necessary action on irregularities in the COA reports.
Free and honest elections
I will ensure free, honest and orderly elections.
I will release the Mayuga Report to make public the findings on the role of the military in the controversial 2004 elections.
On the next ARMM election in 2011, I will install measures that will hold paramount the will of the people of ARMM. The military and the police will remain strictly politically neutral. They will ensure that the election is clean, orderly and peaceful.
To transform Mindanao into modern agricultural center and the nation’s food basket.
I will address infrastructure gap in farm to market roads, irrigation and post harvest facilities.
Corollary to this, to substantially reduce post-harvest losses, post-harvest facilities will be provided to Mindanao corn, coconut and rice farmers while processing facilities will be made available to coastal fishers and aquaculturists.
Additional irrigated farms will raise cropping intensity and hence productivity contributing in the process to the attainment of the goal of self-sufficiency for specific commodities and bolstering export-competitiveness for others.
During my term, I will improve its total road network by bringing its current paved road ratio closer to the national average. This will lower transport costs and post-harvest losses.
Corn driers will be priority of DA under my watch. Every 1,000 hectares of corn land will be serviced by at least 1 corn drier.
Irrigation coverage will be expanded. Mindanao has about 700,000 hectares of farms that need irrigation. We will expand irrigation facilities to service half of the area by the end of my term, subject to sound cost-benefit analysis.
In areas of Mindanao where private investors are hesitant to invest due to high risk and uncertainty, my administration will establish state enterprises that will partner with potential private investors or extend guarantees to them to spread the risks. The purpose is to generate investments in these areas as a way of jump-starting economic activities and providing employment opportunities so direly needed in these communities. This will be the government’s direct assault on breaking the vicious cycle of lack of jobs, resulting to greater poverty, in turn partly fuelling the conflict, leading to lack of investments and lack of jobs.
Among my priority will be government investment in the development of the Halal Industry. This, first and foremost, will answer the essential need of Filipino Muslims for access to food and non-food products that is consistent with their faith. This will also enable local producers, Muslims and non-Muslims, to partake of the multi-billion dollar world halal market.
I will encourage investments in our energy sector to tap more diverse sources of power and lower the cost of energy in the long term. In the short term, I will support moves to mitigate the effects of the power crisis such as:
Leasing power barges
Contracting additional generating capacity through cooperatives and private utilities
Allowing the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines to use ancillary services such as the contracting of back-up generating capacity
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, over the weekend, the President lifted the proclamation of martial law. Under different circumstances or perhaps if done by a judicious President, her act should have calmed the public groping for answers as to whether there was an existing rebellion at the time of the proclamation. But her act has raised more questions that need to be answered.
We join the condemnation of the massacre of 57 Filipinos in Maguindanao. Condemnation is not enough. We need to unearth the conditions that allowed such a crime in order to prevent a recurrence.
If we are to remain committed to the constitutional principles upon which the whole fiber of a just and orderly society rests, it behooves us to continue to inquire as to the factual basis of the declaration of martial law.
Was there truly a legal basis for declaring martial law in Maguindanao?
Was the restoration of peace and order the real reason for the imposition of martial law or are there other reasons yet unseen?
Was it to instill fear, given the very negative connotations of martial law?
Was there actual, not just impending, rebellion?
Was martial law imposed to cover up the discovery of DND/PNP arms and ammunition proving government support for the warlords that have delivered questionable election victories to this administration in the past?
Was it to enforce such overwhelming control to prevent any leakage of information and suppress evidence of electoral fraud and other crimes?
Was it meant to re-establish control of the alleged massive electoral fraud machinery in time for the 2010 elections?
Was this a test case for implementing martial law rule in the entire country?
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, the people deserve an answer, an explanation of the circumstances that led the administration to resort to this action. The joint session of Congress was the ideal venue for providing the needed enlightenment. Let the people’s voice be heard and indeed, it is through us that they will be heard. Let us not shirk from our responsibility, lest we transform ourselves into a passive accomplice of this administration’s penchant for constitutional defiance.
The President’s action has deprived Congress of its constitutional mandate to exercise oversight on how martial law powers are wielded.
Some claim that with the lifting of the proclamation of martial law in Maguindanao our constitutional duty in this whole exercise have become moot and academic. But as elected representatives of the people it is within our constitutional duty to ensure that this historic convening of both chambers of Congress will not be an exercise in futility.
It is for this reason, Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, that this representation urges both chambers to create a jointly appointed Independent Commission that will study and come up with recommendations to Congress in aid of legislation as to clearly define the conditions that would warrant the declaration of martial law, a definition of how the Commander-In-Chief should exercise martial law powers and to provide guidance to the Congress in the exercise of its oversight function over this presidential prerogative.
Noong madaling araw ng Setyembre 23, 1972, dumating ang mga sundalo at dinakip ang aking ama. Kami naman ay ginising ng aming ina, at sinabi sa amin kung ano ang nangyari.
Labing- dalawang taong gulang lamang po ako noon. Kinulong ang aming ama kahit na siya ay walang sala. At doon nagsimula ang aming kalbaryo.
Marami ang naniniwala noon na siya ang magiging susunod na Pangulo. Ngunit sa araw na iyon, bigla siyang itinuring na pangunahing kaaway ng estado bagama’t wala siyang kasalanan.
Bumaliktad ang aming mundo. Itinakwil kami ng mga taong nangako na hindi kami iiwan.
Mula sa inaasahang magandang kinabukasan, nag-umpisa ang bangungot ng martial law.
Mula grade one hanggang grade six, ako po ay nasa top ten ng aking klase. Naghahanda para sa isang magandang kinabukasan.Ngunit ng dumating ang martial law, parang naging imposible ang magkaroon ng isang kinabukasan.
Dahil doon, mahirap magsumikap na mag-aral nang mabuti para sa isang kinabukasang walang taglay na pag-asa.
Ang aming nanay ang tumayong ama at ina ng aming pamilya.
Para makapiling ang aming ama, kailangan pa naming humingi ng permiso sa mga namamahala ng martial law.
Ako’y isang batang musmos na walang magawa habang niyuyurakan ang dangal ng aking ina at mga kapatid nang sumailalim sila sa strip search tuwing dadalaw sa aming ama.
Pinahuhubad halos ang buong kasuotan ng aking ina at mga batang kapatid na babae.
Isang taon bago nag-martial law, inakusahan ni Ginoong Marcos ang aking ama ng kung anu-anong krimen. Sagot ng aking ama: Ginoong Marcos, tungkulin mong isakdal ako sa korte.
Ang nag-akusa sa aking ama ay si Ginoong Marcos. Nagtatag siya ng isang Military Commission para litisin ang aking amang isang sibilyan, at para tiyak na malutong Makoy.
Ang humatol sa aking ama ay mga galamay ni Ginoong Marcos. Ang desisyon nila ay ihahain muli kay Ginoong Marcos para suriin niyang muli.
1977, at 17 years old na ako. Dumating ang panahon ng paghatol sa aking ama ng isang military commission.
Yaman din lamang tapos na ang desisyon bago pa nag-umpisa ang paglilitis, nagpasiya ang aking ama na mag-hunger strike bilang pagprotesta sa kawalan ng katarungan.
Araw-araw, nakikita kong unti-unting nauupos at nauubos ang buhay ng aking ama. Bakit humantong dito ang kanyang buhay? Bakit kailangan na ang taong walang sala ang dumaan sa ganitong paghihirap?
Sa apatnapung araw, patindi ng patindi ang poot at galit na nabubuo sa aking kalooban. Mauunawaan ninyo siguro kung bakit ganoon na lamang ang aking naramdaman.
Ilan kaya sa atin ang kayang magtiis at magtimpi sa ganoong sitwasyon?
Tuloy-tuloy pa rin ang pagsubok at panganib na hinarap namin, na hinarap nating lahat.
Nasubukan na po ba ninyo na makulong ng Pasko at Bagong Taon para lang makapiling ang inyong mahal sa buhay na wala namang sala?
Nakaranas na ba kayong mag-iyakan ang inyong buong pamilya pagsapit ng Bagong Taon sa loob ng maliit na selda, samantalang nagdiriwang at nagsasaya sa labas ang buong daigdig?
Nakaranas na ba kayong maging Kuya at Tatay sa mga kapatid na babae sa murang edad ng inyong pagbi-binata?
Sa daloy ng panahon, napilitan po akong tanggapin na lamang—kagaya ng milyung milyong Pilipino—ang kawalan ng karapatan sa lahat ng larangan.
Ang lahat ng naranasan kong ito ay bahagi ng isang bangungot na hindi dapat nangyari at hindi na dapat maulit pa.
Ang hirap na aming dinanas, ang sakit ng kalooban, ang kawalan ng katarungan sa amang minamahal—iyan po ang siyang nagpanday ng aking ugali at pagkatao.
Sakripisyo—para sa bayan. Sakripisyo—para sa paninindigan. Sakripisyong may halong dalangin at pag-asa na may Panginoong Diyos na sa takdang oras ay iwawasto ang mali.
Kaya sa mga nanlalait hindi lang sa akin kundi sa panawagan ng panahon, simple lang ang sagot dito: ito ang ating tadhana.
Ang nais nila ay talikuran ko—at talikuran natin—ang ehemplo at prinsipyo ng aking mga magulang at ang magandang halimbawa na ibinigay hindi lang sa kanilang mga anak, kundi sa buong sambayanan.
Totoo naman na hindi mahirap ang angkan ng aking ama. Pwede siyang sumuko at tumanggap ng pataas na pataas na alok ng kapangyarihan at salapi. Ngunit pinili niya ang landas ng pagpapatotoo sa pangakong paglingkuran ang sambayanan.
Naaalala ko po ang liham na sinulat ng aking ama noong siya ay nasa bilangguan.
Limampung taong gulang ang aking ama noong siya ay pinaslang. Ngayon ay 50 taong gulang na rin po ako.
Ang sabi sa akin ng aking ama:
“The only advice I can give you: Live with honor and follow your conscience. There is no greater nation on earth than our Motherland. No greater people than our own. Serve them with all your heart, with all your might and with all your strength. Son, the ball is now in your hands.”
Totoo naman na hindi namulat sa hirap ang aking ina, ngunit ang pinili niyang pamumuhay ay ang paglingkuran ang bayan at iangat ang mga mahihirap—at hindi ang sarili niyang kaginhawaan.
Binigay nila sa ating bayan ang mga bagay na hindi kayang bilhin ng sinuman: ang kanilang sakripisyo. Ang kanilang paninindigan. Kung may inaapi, kung may pinagsasamantalahan, matatag ang kanilang paninindigan: ipadama at patunayang hindi sila nag-iisa.
Ang lahat ng hirap na aming dinanas ay tinumbasan ng sambayanang Pilipino ng pagmamahal.
Pagmamahal sa aking amang si Ninoy na pinaslang nang walang habag, at milyun-milyon ang nakiramay. Pagmamahal sa aking inang si Cory na ipinagdasal ng sambayanan nuong nakaratay sa sakit, at pakikiramay nang siya ay mahimlay.
Sa lahat ng aming sakripisyo, sa lahat ng aming trahedya, hindi ninyo kami pinabayaan. Hindi ninyo kami nilisan. Ipinadama ninyo sa amin na hindi kami nag-iisa.
Sa aking pananaw, hindi lang ito dahil sa halimbawa nila Ninoy at Cory.
Nakita lamang nila ang ayaw kilalanin ng mga sugapa sa kapangyarihan at pangungurakot: na ang Pilipino ay disente, may dangal, may malasakit at may paninindigan. Mahaba ang ating pasensya, ngunit habang tayo’y nagtitiis, naroon ang kaalaman na may araw din ng pagtutuos, may araw din para sa tunay na katarungan.
Dumating nga ang araw na iyon nung Pebrero beynte-singko, 1986: ito na ang kabaligtaran ng lagim na pinagdaanan ng ating lipunan.
Dahil sa People Power, nanumbalik ang demokrasya. Dahil sa People Power, nanumbalik ang ating karapatang pumili at maghalal ng ating mga pinuno. Dahil sa People Power, nanumbalik ang mga karapatang pantao.
Dahil sa People Power, taas-noo tayong lahat. Inawit pa natin na ito ang handog ng Pilipino sa mundo. Naging inspirasyon tayo ng marami pang bansa sa Asya at sa Europa na nag-People Power din upang itanghal ang demokrasya.
Kaya nang nagtagumpay ang People Power sinabi natin, ayon sa kanta,
Ating kalayaan kay tagal nating mithi. ‘Di na papayagang mabawi muli.
Ngunit ano ang naganap mula noon?
Noong 2000, nanaig muli ang korapsyon sa pamahalaan.
Nanindigan tayong muli at nagkaroon ng pangalawang People Power, ngunit ano ang ginawa ng ating niluklok na Pangulo?
Bakit hanggang ngayon ay saksi pa rin tayo sa pagpapasasa at pangungurakot ng iilan habang nagpapahirap sa milyun-milyong Pilipino?
Bakit hanggang ngayon ay pilit na ayaw pa ring harapin ang usapin ng ‘Hello Garci’? Di ba ang walang sala, nagmamadali pang patunayang mali ang mga paratang? Limang taon na ang nakalipas, kulang pa ba?
Bakit pinayagan ang mga kaalyado na magtatag ng mga sari-sariling kaharian? Bakit sukdulan na ang paggamit ng karahasan hindi lamang ng baril at armas, kundi maging chainsaw at backhoe? Bakit kailangang maganap ang karumal-dumal na massacre sa Maguindanao?
Talaga bang ang mga mandaraya, manlilinlang at magnanakaw ay palagi na lamang mamamayani?
Palalim ng palalim ang ugat ng kanilang kasakiman habang lalong naghihirap ang taumbayan.
Noon, si Marcos ang tanging batas. Ngayon, sa maraming pagkakataon, ay tila hindi na ginagalang ang batas, pati na ang ating Saligang Batas.
Noon, ang eleksiyon ay Lutong Makoy; ngayon, ang eleksyon ay Lutong Gloria at Garci.
Noong araw, na- momorsiyento sa proyekto ang mga tiwali. Ngayon, ang naiiwan sa proyekto ay iilang porsiyento na lamang.
Pilit tayong pinapaniwala na wala tayong magagawa.
Kailangan tayong magbalik-tanaw sa nakalipas.
Mayroong isang Ninoy Aquino. Hinarap ang maliwanag na panganib sa buhay niya. Para magkaroon tayo ng pagkakataon na magkaroon ng mapayapang pagbabago.
Pinatay siya ng walang pakundangan ng mga gahaman sa kapangyarihan. At sa kanyang pagyao, nabuhay ang ating demokrasya.
Mayroong isang Cory Aquino. Ipinagpatuloy niya ang laban—hanggang naibalik natin ang demokrasya.
At kahit tapos na ang panunungkulan, hindi ni minsang tumangging manindigan para ipagtanggol ang demokrasya sa bawat panganib.
May mga tao at puwersang gustong isantabi ang kapakanan ng karamihan alang-alang sa kanilang makasariling interes.
Habang nangingibaw ang ganitong palakad, palubog nang palubog ang buhay ng nakararaming dukha at kapus-palad.
Minsan may isang diktador na nangahas na umapi ng isang bansa. Sambayanang Pilipino, sumunod sa halimbawa ni Ninoy at ni Cory. Gumising at nanindigan, at itinaboy ang mapangahas.
Ngayon, naghahari na naman ang mga sumunod sa yapak ng nangahas.
Kayong mga nandito, naninindigan at nagbibigay- babala sa mga mapangahas:
Humanda na kayo sa araw ng pananagutan. Gumising na kayo sa katotohanan. Mulat na ang sambayanan.
Noong panahon ng kadiliman, ang katanungan ay:
Sino ang kikilos upang ibalik tayo sa liwanag?
Sa inyong pakikiisa, sinagot niyo na ito.
Ngayon, kumikilos na ang sambayanang nangangarap muli, at natatanaw na natin ang maliwanag at maaliwalas na kinabukasan kung saan ang pangarap ay magkakatotoo din.
Minsan, may isang Ninoy Aquino, nag-iisa sa kanyang bartolina. Nangahas siyang mangarap. At nang lumaon, tumugon sa kanyang hamon ang milyun-milyong Pilipino—at nakamit natin ang kalayaan.
Ngayon, wala na tayong dapat pang ikatakot. Tayo ay gising na. Tayo ay mulat na. Tayo ay kikilos na upang makamit ang tagumpay. Taas-noo muli ang Pilipino sa mundo.
Maraming salamat at magandang gabi po sa inyong lahat.
Napansin ko po, hindi nababati ng maayos ang ating mga kasanggang matibay tulad ni Mayor Lim, na nandito po sa entablado.
Nandiyan po si Mayor Aro Mendoza ng Tarlac City!
Nandiyan po si Vice Governor Mark Leviste ng Batangas, matanda lang po ng konti sa akin yan.
Alam ho ninyo ang problema ko, ay mahaba-haba sana yung sasabihin ko sa inyo. Tapos sabi sa akin, paki bilisan ninyo one minute lang kayo at baka magsara yung Comelec.
Ito po ang listahan ng babatiin ko halos naging baliktaran sa papel, tsaka ko na po kayo babatiin kapag mas mahaba ang oras.
Simple lang po ang mensahe natin itong araw na ito: Diyan po sa Manila Cathedral, tatlong buwan pa lang po halos ang lumipas noong atin pong ina ay nandiyan at dadalhin na po sa huling hantungan. Marami pong problema na bumabalot sa aking kaisipan. Unang una na ho doon, wala na po ang ating pinuno, paano kaya natin maibabalik sa liwanag ang ating bansa? Kulang siguro sa tulog kaya’t hindi ko nakita kaagad yung mga sagot. Nakita po natin yung apat na sundalo nandoon sa taas ng truck. Sila ho ay hindi magkakasama sa isang unit at tsaka yung isa po ay miyembro ng kapulisan. Sila ho ay hindi nagtraining para sa trabahong iyon na sinabihan silang siyam na oras kayong hindi puwede kumilos. Pero yung Pilipino ho, tulad noong apat na iyon, bigyan lamang ng pagkakataon, maliwanag kung ano ang tama, gagawin ang tama – yun po ang solusyon natin.
Itong araw pong ito ihahain natin yung ating certificate of candidacy. Ito po siguro ang unang hakbang sa huling yugto ng ipinaglalaban natin. At ano nga ba ang pinaglalaban natin? Kapag tayo po, sa tulong ninyo, ay pinalad, yung pataba po, ang tataba halaman hindi na po yung mga tiwaling kawani ng gobyerno.
Magkakaroon din po ng sistema ng gobyerno na hindi nagpapahintulot o nakapapayag ng nangyaring karumaldumal na nangyari sa Maguindanao, hindi na po pupuwede iyan. Magkakaroon na tayo ng katiyakan na kaparusahan kapag may nilabag ka sa batas natin, iyan po ay itaga na natin sa bato.
Ipinaglalaban din po natin na lahat ng Pilipinong gustong matuto, may pagkakataon para matuto. Ang Pilipinong gustong magkaroon ng trabahong may dangal, magkakaroon ng trabahong may dangal.
Ang Pilipino pong may karamdaman, aarugain ng estado, obligasyon po iyan ng estado. Lahat po iyan, kaya nating makamtan, dahil ako po ay naniniwala sa bansa po natin. Sa singkuwentang porsyento na binubungkal na lupa, hindi ho tamang may nagugutom sa Pilipinas. Kailangan lang po gawin natin yung tama, babawasan natin ng babawasan ang nagugutom at talagang papunta na tayo sa kasaganaan, dahil gagawin po natin ang tama.
Malapit na po tayong senyasan. Baka sabihin sa atin ay malapit na ang lunch break sa Comelec.
Ang importante lang po sa akin na maiwan sa inyo sa araw na ito ay isang bagay:
Yung mga kalaban natin ang daming ipinagyayabang. Lahat na po sila ay ipinagsama-sama ko na. Pare-pareho silang gusto pa ring ipagpatuloy ang paglilinlang, yung pandaraya. Ang sagot ko lang sa kanila: Sige na pumutak na kayo ng pumutak. Sige na magtext brigade na kayo, mag-internet pa kayo. Sige na bilhin na ninyo ang lahat ng commercial na puwede ninyong bilhin.
Pero ang taong bayan, sa akin pong pananaw ay gising na, mulat na at sawa na sa inyo! Papasalamatan ko nalang ho kayong lahat.
Mga kapatid, talagang noong iniisip natin ito, ang dami kong problemang nakikita sabi ko, “Paano nga ba natin malalaktawan iyan?”
At yung sagot po pabalikbalik, simple lang pala, habang nandiyan ang taong bayan maski anong problema kaya nating laktawan. Ang tagumpay po buwan na lang ang pinag-uusapan, ke nandoon ako, ke wala ho ako dito, sigurado po ako itong ating krusada, magpapatuloy at magtatagumpay dahil lahat po kayo ay nandito.
Kaya’t magandang umaga pong muli at maraming salamat sa inyo!
The ProPinoy Project is a Global Community Center for all things Pinoy, to connect Filipinos at home and abroad by creating a space for ideas, trends and analyses about the Philippines and the global Pinoy community to inspire informed discussion and transformative action.