NAGA CITY, 21Aug2013 – SELDA (Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto) pays its highest tribute to Atty. Romeo Candazo, youth activist, public servant, journalist, educator, human rights lawyer, and as a former political detainee during the Martial Law years, one of the founding members of SELDA.
A scholar during his college days at the University of the Philippines, Atty. Candazo was active in the struggle against the Marcos regime which cost him his freedom many times during the Martial Law years.
In 1985, he was one of the former political detainees who took the initiative of founding SELDA. The first SELDA Board was composed of Fidel Agcaoili, Julieta de Lima-Sison, Joaquin “Don Chino” Roces, Jake Almeda Lopez, Francisco Rodrigo, Jose Mari Velez, Benjamin Guingona, Danilo Vizmanos and Romeo Candazo.
As one of the major organizations that gathered the thousands of victims during Martial Law, SELDA was able to file the historic class suit against the Marcoses in 1986. The stories both of suffering and of courage of Atty. Candazo and other victims who came forward to let the world know of their experiences be known, are now the basis for the continuing struggle for recognition and reparation for Martial Law victims.
It is with deep regret that we in SELDA learned of his death without him witnessing the implementation of the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. Atty. Candazo may have served well as one of the members of the Claims Board, the primary body to identify Martial Law victims who deserve recognition and reparation. If Pres. Aquino is not taking his own sweet time in implementing the law, Atty. Candazo should have seen the fruits of his struggle while he was still alive.
Most of the Martial Law victims are either ill or suffer old age, their health conditions worsened by the physical and emotional torture they experienced at the time of their imprisonment. Almost every month, we pay tribute to SELDA members and Martial Law victims, who were still able to attend meetings, joined lobby efforts in Congress, reached out to fellow political detainees and contemporaries, and marched the streets – all in the hope that they shall be recognized and be heeded upon by the current Aquino government. We shall not let their passing be in vain.
As we remember Atty. Candazo, Atty. Romeo Capulong, Bong Barsoles, Romeo Luneta, Maita Gomez, Rudy Lagoc, Manny Loste, Mike Biriña and all those who served the people and fought for justice, we demand the Aquino government to implement the law now, form the Claims Board now. There’s no other time but now.