By Reynard Magtoto
LEGAZPI CITY, 22Sept2016 (BicolToday.com) – “It’s frightening to have martial law because we can’t move with tranquility in our daily living. Exaggerated restriction will happen if martial law will be implemented here in Albay,” said Susan Montañez of Kilicao, Daraga, Albay who showed sympathy to the victims of Martial Law especially to those women.
Montañez was among the 960 protesters in Albay who marched from Bicol Regional Training and Teaching Hospital (BRTTH) to Camp Ola then in Peñaranda Park infront of Albay Capitol to protest against US-Dictatorship and demand for justice and indemnification to all victims of human rights violations.
Progressive groups in the provinces of Bicol region held protest actions to mark the 44th anniversary of Martial Law declaration on September 21, 1972 by the deposed Dictator President Ferdinand E. Marcos.
For 44 years, the horrors of Martial Law continue to haunt the tens of thousands of victims of human rights violations committed with gross impunity by the US-Marcos Dictatorship.
“The State Security Forces which gained notoriety in human rights violations during the Martial Law years has not changed as evidenced by the ascending records of the post Martial Law human rights violations committed with impunity by the succeeding regimes in furtherance of the US designed counter-insurgency programs,” said Dan Balucio of Bayan-Bicol.
“These armed forces deployment in barangays I think these are not yet what we called Martial Law because of the law being implement by the government why there are military in barangays,” Montañez said. “But since President Duterte is already sitting [as commander-in-chief], he must make way to recall its troops in a barangay because they can’t stay in barangays especially in barangay halls.”
Brgy. Kilicao, Daraga where Montañez lives was part of counter-insurgency program of the government. AFP forces targeted her barangay to secure the 2016 national elections fronting its Oplan Bayanihan operation. Different peasants and urban poor from progressive organizations in Albay were visited and interrogated repeatedly by AFP forces staying at barangay Pawa and Tamaoyan in Legazpi City, and barangay Kilicao and Alcala in Daraga.
“What happened during Martial Law according to elders, every barangay was under surveillance and interrogation, especially those men. Men were forced to get out in their house and being gathered,” said Montañez realizing that what happened in barangays during Martial Law and at present are quite the same.
“That’s why it’s difficult if there will be Martial Law again,” according to Montañez who never experienced the dark years of Martial Law.
Fred Mansos of Samahan ng Ex-detainees laban sa Amnestiya at Aresto (SELDA) agreed to Montañez point that Martial Law before and the existing militarization in the region at present are almost the same. President Duterte declared State of Lawlessness but still martial law exist according to him.
“Marcoses still have unpaid owed life. They are pretentious and arrogant,” Mansos said. His dark days during Martial law are still fresh in his mind.
Victims of human rights violations committed by the US-Marcos Dictatorship reaching about 75,000 are yet to receive indemnification despite the passage of a law granting them reparations.
Justice for the victims of human rights violations committed by post Martial Law regimes remains elusive while Martial Law and post Martial Law hatchet men were never brought to justice.
“Several hatchet men were even promoted to the highest ranks,” Balucio said. “Some of the anti-people, anti-democratic and pro-imperialist laws inacted by the US-Marcos Dictatorship remained enforced even today.”
Through Oplan Bayanihan, AFP troops can maneuver their military operations in villages in Bicol and commit human rights violations even President Duterte did not declared Martial Law according to Balucio. “They still rule.”
From Capitol Park, Bayan Sorsogon led more than 1, 039 Sorsoganons marched around the city and held their program infront of Goodluck Store and Camp Escudero.
Among the provinces in Bicol region, Sorsogon is the highly militarized area. AFP troops are active in their military operations in the province’s remote barangays despite the ceasefire declaration.
During their protest action, Kopras cultural group re-enacted militarization in the province. According to BAYAN-Sorsogon, they abled to upload the photos of their protest action in Facebook after. However, when they are about to upload the photos of their Hustisya formation facebook already blocked their account.
Hustisya is an organization for the victims of all human rights violations. it is also an organization for the relatives and friends of the victims especially of the victims of extrajudicial killings.
Candles for the victims
Aside from marcha rally, more than 398 protesters in Camarines Norte lit candles and freed balloons in First Rizal monument for the victims of Martial law.
“At present, the events in the country still resembles the event during the Martial Law. The widespread killing of addicts and suspected criminals, and other human rights violations continue,” according to Cyd Andaya of Kabataan Partylist-Camarines Norte.
According to Andaya, peasants in Camarines Norte are mostly victims of militarization in highly-militarized area in the province. These include Brgy. Dumagmang, Malaya and Bagong Silang in Labo municipality; Brgy. Sta. Elena and Brgy. Tamisan in the municipality of Jose Panganiban and in the villages of Capalonga municipality.
Despite the ceasefire period, “there are presence [of AFP troops], according to the testimonials of the villagers,” Andaya said. “The military are the itinerants during curfew.”
In Naga City, 1, 300 people marched to the City and held their program in Plaza Rizal. 230 Catanduanons also conducted forum and protest action in their province while 4,550 Masbateños marched around the city to demand justice for the victims and protest against mining in the province.
“The lesson in ousting the Marcos Dictatorship remains – There’s never wrong to fight, there’s wrong, so we fight,” said Andaya.
“Marcos was ousted because of People Power. I hope that the politicos who are sleeping and being feed by pork barrel will not stop [to condemn the Martial Law] especially this time that the victims of Martial Law are now in moribund state,” Mansos said. “However the youths will grow and will be the ones to continue to protest against Martial Law in the time when Martial Law will be declared again in Philippines.” [BicolToday.com]