by: Ian Carlo Estares

MANILA – It seemed like a night of celebration as artists from different UP campuses shared their craft with a cheering crowd. Words of aspirations serenaded the night as fingers danced on guitar strings accompanied by the steady rhythm of a beating drum, challenging the oppressive silence as each thrum, each beat, each choreographed step, each stroke of a brush and each poem carried with it the desire and the power to breach through concrete walls, slip between iron bars and reach those who have fought for freedom and yet, ironically, have had their freedom taken away from them.

On the eve of our country’s Independence Day, Task Force FrEEDOM together with the UP Diliman College of Mass Communication Student Council organized “Kalayaan: An Open Mic Night” to raise awareness on the state of political prisoners in the country through artistic expressions.

“Tonight is a gathering to fight for freedom and justice by artists through art,” said Alyssa Mariel Suico from Task Force FrEEDOM.

With the support of the different organizations, college and campus student councils of different UP campuses, the event demanded the immediate release of the Taysan 3: Maricon Montajes, Ronilo Baez and Romiel Canete, and all the other political prisoners.

Maricon Montajes, a film student of the University of the Philippines Diliman, College of Mass Communication, was in a small village in Taysan, Batangas when members of the 743rd Combat Squadron of the Philippine Air Forced riddled the house they were staying in with bullets, screaming “Lumabas kayo dyan! Mga New People’s Army (NPA) kayo!” She was later charged with illegal possession of fire arms, illegal possession of explosives and violation of election gun ban.

Already four years since the unlawful detainment of the Taysan 3, the conditions in the country still remain unchanged. In a system that rules through fear and fears the learned and aware, any form of educating the masses and making them aware of their condition and their potential to change the system is met with the bared fangs of oppression.

Through fear and force we are conditioned to believe that changing the system is out of our power and that accepting it as the norm is our safest option, and that security and freedom comes at the cost of each other. Should you attempt to think or act otherwise, chances are you’ll be coerced into having years of your life taken away from you through unlawful, and often absurd, means as is the case of Maricon and the Taysan 3.

Having already spent four years in Batangas City Provincial Jail, the cry for freedom and justice for the Taysan 3 still remain.


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