By Luz Wendy Noble
Hopeful for a favorable Supreme Court (SC) decision to stop the interment of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB), family members and friends of Martial Law victims as well as advocate groups against the Marcos burial gathered in Our Lady of Loreto Parish in Bustillos, Manila for a nationwide call to prayer Aug. 30.
Held on the eve of the first day of the SC oral arguments on the case, the event, led by Duyan Ka Ng Magiting coalition, was part of a series of protests condemning President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to bury the Marcos corpse, long maintained by the family inside a refrigerated crypt at the Marcos Museum in Batac, Ilocos Norte.
On the same night, students from Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and Miriam College also came together at the Church of the Gesu in ADMU for the same cause.
Jesuit priest and sociology professor Fr. Roberto Rivera led the mass in Bustillos, which was followed by a candle-lighting ceremony.
Advocates, families, and colleagues of fallen Martial Law victims participated in the event, uttering their departed’s names before they put down their candles.
“Ang mga tunay na Kristiyano, kung nananalig sila sa Panginoon, kailangan handa sila upang makipaglaban at hindi [lamang] makipagsang-ayon sa ibang tao,” Rivera said. “Ang mensaheng ito ng katarungan at kapayapaan ay nakakatunggali ngayon ‘yung mga taong nais makalimutan ‘yung mga inhustisya ng nakaraan,” he added.
Rivera, who grew up during the Martial Law era near Malacañang and the Bustillos grocery of the father of slain student activist Edgar Jopson, also reiterated that remembering the victims of the Marcos era was not a matter of religion, but the duty of every Filipino.
“Marami sa mga napaslang [ay] hindi lang Katoliko. Kasama na doon [ang] mga Muslim, mga katutubo, mga tao ng iba’t-ibang pananampalataya at paniniwala,” Rivera said.
“Ito’y pakikipaglaban ng lahat ng taong nagbigay ng pawis at dugo para sa pakikipaglaban sa diktadura.”
Candy Ramos of the Yes to Reform Movement, who also grew up during the Martial Law era, recalled not being able to watch her favorite TV shows for it was replaced with government programs.
She said it felt as if her youth was taken away from her.
“That time I was distributing leaflets in Rustan’s, sinundan ako ng security. Looming over me na ‘bawal po ‘yan miss’. What? I’m just distributing flyers!” Ramos said.
According to her, the papers were not even political in the first place.
Also present at the event was Professor Lody Garcia from the UP College of Social Welfare and Development.
In 1979, Garcia was among the many student activists who were detained during the Marcos regime.
She stressed the role of the members of the Filipino community, and emphasized how today’s youth should learn from her generation’s history.
“Isang komunidad ang bayang Pilipinas na dapat lahat ay makisangkot. Ang isang sambayanan ay isang komunidad…‘Yun yung gusto kong ipaabot sa mga estudyante ngayon. Dapat alam nila ang history kasi hindi mo pwedeng burahin ‘yun,” Garcia said.
Never Forget the Debt
According to Claimants 1081 Executive Director Zenny Mique, the Marcoses have yet to pay even a single centavo as compensation for damages owed to the survivors of human rights violations during the Martial Law.
Since the fall of the Marcos regime until today, Claimants 1081 has been demanding accountability and financial compensation for survivors of Martial Law human rights violations.
In 1987, they filed a case at the Hawaii Federal District Court, which won in the year 1995. The court awarded them with compensatory damages amounting to almost $2 billion. However, none of the victims have received any amount from this up to this day.
It was only in 2011 when eligible claimants who were recognized by the Hawaii Federal District Court received $1,000 each after a $10 million settlement of Marcos crony Jose Campos with a human rights lawyer.
In 2014, claimants each received $1,000 dollars again after the buyer of the Claude Monet painting settled with a human rights lawyer just so she can get out of the story.
The said artwork used to be one of the prized paintings owned by the Marcoses which was later sold by Vilma Bautista, then secretary of Imelda Marcos.
For Yes to Reform Movement member Raquy Garcia, all these and more are enough reasons as to why Ferdinand Marcos Sr. does not deserve to be interred in the nation’s pantheon of heroes in Taguig City.
“He himself requested to be buried beside his mother. So why don’t we bury him beside his mother in Paoay, Ilocos?” Garcia said.
Marie Jopson, sister of Edgar Jopson, who was then the chairperson of both the Ateneo Student Council as well as the National Union of Students in the Philippines (NUSP), also joined the Bustillos gathering.
“At that time, si Marcos ay sinungaling na,” Jopson said.
Marie Jopson recounted how bravely her brother Edgar went to Malacañang to ask Marcos not to seek for the presidency for the third time. When Marcos said he would not run anymore, Edgar challenged Marcos to put it in writing.
An infuriated Marcos then called Edgar a “son of a grocer” to which Edgar, whose father owned Jopson’s Supermarket in Bustillos at that time, replied that he was indeed the son of a grocer – an honest one.
Marie also recalled how his brother’s fierceness made it out to the headlines the following day.
On Sept. 21, 1982, years after that encounter with Marcos, Edgar Jopson was shot by the late president’s military men. Edgar died exactly a decade after the declaration of Martial Law.
“Itong mga pinagpapatay nilang mga Marcos, they were not drug addicts. They did not have any crime against the state but they were killed by the state,” Marie Jopson said.
Garcia believes that the younger generations of Filipinos owe it to the likes of Edgar to not allow the burial Ferdinand Marcos in the LNMB
“Put books in libraries. Make tours of schools and tell them what really happened…This is [not just] in remembrance for those who gave up their lives, but also for the generations well beyond me. What kind of confused state are we creating for our children, our children’s children and their children?” she said.