After 40 years, Pinoys still live in poverty, suffer rights abuses-A A +A
Saturday, September 22, 2012
KIDAPAWAN CITY -- Survivors of Martial Law still see "remnants" of the past, 40 years later.
Rosalio Llanto, 80, church worker of the Diocese of Kidapawan who twice survived attacks of a para-military group during Martial Law, said that even years after the dictator was deposed from his post, "still there is no peace and people live in abject poverty."
"I heard government officials promised they would uplift peoples' lives when they sit in power... I saw groups worked for peace... yet, there is still too much violence in this part of the society," Llanto said.
Llanto, Ecclesial Community (BEC) in a parish in President former organizer of the Basic Roxas, North Cotabato, survived two attempts on his life in 1972.
He said he was wrongfully accused of supporting the communist guerillas when he shouted “justice” for all victims of human rights violations during the Martial Law years.
Fr. Peter Geremiah of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission (Pime) was a witness as to how active church workers during the time of Marcos were arrested, tortured, and then killed.
Geremiah arrived in the Philippines a month before Marcos declared Presidential Decree 1081 or the Martial Law.
His first assignment was in a parish in Santa Cruz, Laguna.
He was surprised when members of the MetroCom, now Philippine National Police, barged into their parish and arrested more than a hundred organizers of the BEC.
When he was transferred from Tondo, Manila to a far-flung town in North Cotabato, he witnessed how members of a mercenary group wrecked havoc in his parish and the community.
In 1985, Fr. Tulio Favali, a visiting Pime priest, was killed by the mercenary group led by the Manero brothers who were later arrested, charged, and placed in prison for many, many years.
The killers thought Favali was Geremiah, reports said.
Forty years after, Geremiah said the remnants of Martial Law are still "very glaring."
"The killing in 2011 of Father Fausto Tentorio, PIME, was clear indication that still rights are violated," said Geremiah.
Geremiah was certain that a group of armed natives, backed by soldiers, was behind the killing of Tentorio.
"During the time of former President Cory (Corazon Aquino), justice was accorded to Favali. But I just don't know with President Noynoy's time if we would get justice for the death of Tentorio during his administration," said the missionary.
Fe Carreon, former organizer of Kabataang Makabayan, an underground group of student activists, recalled the horrors of Martial Law.
Carreon was arrested thrice from 1972 until 1975.
She saw how male prisoners, all arrested for violating Presidential Decree 1081, were tortured by police and soldiers.
Four decades after the tumultuous years, Carreon said that while the past administrations after Marcos did not declare Martial Law, still, its effects are still "very similar."
"The effects of the Oplan Bantay Laya during the time of former President Arroyo and today's Oplan Bayanihan of PNoy are the same, not much different from the effects of Marcos' Martial Law," Carreon said.
On Friday, protesters from towns of Magpet, Makilala, Antipas, President Roxas, and Arakan in North Cotabato gathered around the Poblacion of Arakan to commemorate the death of a number of martyrs in North Cotabato, 34 of them were church workers.
Geremiah said that from Martial Law years until 1991, at least 80 persons in the province were killed; some of them just disappeared and were never found.
Among the Church martyrs in the Diocese of Kidapawan considered the “highest” was Fr. Favali of the Pime, according to Geremiah.
Geremiah joined thousands of the protesters, led by the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Cotabato, and other progressive groups and individuals, that marched around the streets to shout justice for victims of Martial Law and other human rights violations.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 22, 2012.