Two anniversary celebrations-A A +A
The Living Spirit
Saturday, September 15, 2012
THIS month of September, we have two memorable anniversary celebrations: the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law on Sept. 21, 1972 and the 72nd anniversary of the Bureau of Immigration BI) on Sept. 12, 1960.
I say memorable because we may not forget what happened during those days in the past. Conrado de Quiros, in his column on Sept. 12, said: ‘We need to recover the past. We need to recover the truth. We need to recover ourselves.’
That is why I am writing this column. I bring these two anniversaries in connection with each other because they are closely related to each other, at least for me personally in my own experience of the past.
A few days after Sept. 21, 1972, I was arrested in my office in Iligan City and brought to Camp Tipanoy for investigation on my activities in the labor movement. As a social action director of the diocese, I had set up a labor education center in Iligan and had conducted labor education seminars for the workers in the different factories in Iligan.
At the Iligan Electric Company, the workers had decided to go on strike because of a violation of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA). During the strike, there was no maintenance on the electric lines in the city and this caused several brownouts. Because of this, many people got angry but most of all, the owner of the company was very angry because he got all the blame and he wanted to throw the blame on me. He had probably some connections with Mr. Marcos, who ordered my arrest. Strikes were officially forbidden since the declaration of martial law. I was transferred to Camp Crame and eventually turned over to the Bureau of Immigration. The Immigration Commissioner, Edmundo Reyes, told me what were the charges against me. I was the instigator of the strike. I had no other choice but to leave the country. On my request, a re-entry permit was issued to me. An immigration officer, who by the way was a Knight of Columbus, that is what he told me, brought me to the plane and advised me to trust the Commissioner. After six months, I could come back to the country, he said.
When I returned to the Philippines after six months, I was refused entry and was sent back to Hong Kong. An immigration officer showed me a list of undesirable aliens and my name appeared there behind the date I had left the country six months earlier. My Superior was waiting for me outside the airport, I told them. I informed him later from Hong Kong what had happened to me. With the help of some other religious superiors, they filed a protest against the Immigration Commissioner, who eventually allowed me to come back to the Philippines. That was the time I joined the anti-Marcos campaign movement in Manila.
Recent developments have shown that nothing has changed much in the Bureau of Immigration. The same corrupt immigration personnel, who have allowed criminals, like the Reyes brothers, Jovito Palparan, Delfin Lee and Ruben Ecleo Jr., to escape from the country.
President Aquino is right when he scolded the BI officials and accused them of conspiracy for sleeping on the job. It is still a crooked system in the Bureau of Immigration, like a crooked system prevails also in the Department of Labor, what I have said already in one of my previous columns. These are still the after-effects of martial law, which until now have not been corrected yet.
‘If we let a rotten system to persist, then naturally we will reap what is rotten. It’s in our hands to choose which path to take’, said President Aquino at the anniversary celebration of the BI last Sept. 12. I fully agree with him.
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Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on September 16, 2012.