A FORMER political detainee urged the young to not only know their history, but to put their shoes in those who experienced the atrocities of Martial Law firsthand.
“You can truly appreciate your freedom when you experienced losing it,” said retired Regional Trial Court (RTC) Judge Meinrado Paredes.
Paredes commented on a growing sentiment from younger Filipinos to “move on” from remembering a dark chapter of the country’s history.
Cebu Archbishop Emeritus Ricardo Cardinal Vidal also urged Filipinos to learn from the lessons of the first Edsa People Power Revolution and appreciate the freedoms that we gained after Martial Law.
On the morning of Sept. 22, 1972, Paredes was reviewing for the Bar at his house on Lopez Jaena St., Cebu City when uniformed members of the Philippine Constabulary came and asked him to go with them.
Paredes’s arrest came just a day after the late President Ferdinand Marcos declared Proclamation 1081, putting the country under Martial Law.
In an interview yesterday, Paredes told Sun.Star Cebu that for a year, he was detained with other political detainees at the Camp Sergio Osmeña in Osmeña Blvd. and Camp Lapu-Lapu in Barangay Lahug.
Detained along with him were his younger brother and other political detainees from Cebu, such as lawyers Democrito Barcenas and Kit Enriquez, who is now a judge.
For a year, Paredes and other political detainees from different parts of the Visayas tried to make sense of their stay in the two camps.
To take care of themselves, Paredes and other detainees organized different groups that would be in-charge of their day-to-day lives in the two camps.
If their captors would try to unnerve them through psychological warfare, Paredes and fellow detainees would remove their stress out by involving themselves in simple activities, such as playing chess, and table tennis, among others.
A year after he was detained, Paredes continued with his cause, but only in secret.
Far from over
Thirty years after Edsa 1, Paredes believes that the battle to restore democracy in the country is far from over.
Even though subsequent administrations after Martial Law helped return the people’s basic rights and restored some of the ill-gotten wealth stolen by the Marcoses, the national government has yet to solve other problems such as poverty, the existence of political dynasties and landlordism, Paredes told Sun.Star Cebu yesterday.
Paredes said government also has to address a growing disillusionment of the people toward its leaders.
But Paredes said that despite the problems hounding the country today, he is still satisfied because the freedom that they lost during Martial Law is being enjoyed by the younger generation.
However, he lamented that not all people appreciated the things that occurred following EDSA 1.
Paredes blames the Marcoses who still hold “significant amounts of wealth” for launching campaigns, on and off social media, that discredit the 1986 People Power Revolution and glorify the late strongman’s “achievements.”
“It’s an unfortunate tragedy because the young don’t know their history. If they don’t know their history, they are doomed to repeat it,” he added.
In a separate interview, Vidal described the Martial Law days as “mild” ones for the Catholic Church because the Marcos regime still allowed members of the clergy to continue their apostolic mission.
But Vidal, who was president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) when EDSA 1 broke out, said that Martial Law would have been implemented properly if the late president had not allowed it to be corrupted.
The 84-year-old retired prelate recalled that just before he was about to sign a controversial pastoral letter against the results of the 1986 snap elections, Imelda Marcos visited him and tried to convince him otherwise.
Vidal was told by the former First Lady that if he signed the pastoral letter, her husband might renounce Catholicism and return to his former religion, the Aglipayan Church or the Philippine Independent Church.
But despite the president’s threats, Vidal eventually signed the pastoral letter, which was eventually followed by the Marcoses’ exile to Hawaii.
Vidal also urged the young to appreciate the freedoms they enjoy following Edsa 1.