‘Aquino is continuing the nightmares of Martial Law’

Activists call for dismantling of paramilitary groups (Photo by Loi Manalansan / Bulatlat.com)
Activists call for dismantling of paramilitary groups (Photo by Loi Manalansan / Bulatlat.com)

“We believe that no real freedom and peace will prosper in the Philippines if our state forces remain to be the number one human rights violator.”

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA – Lumad student Roland Dausay Dalin, 16, said he learned about Martial Law in school, and from older people. But he needs no history books to teach him the horrors of those dark years.

Dalin came from one of the Lumad communities in Mindanao that have suffered the worst attacks from soldiers and pro-government paramilitary groups in the past weeks.

Today, Sept. 21, is the 43rd year of the declaration of Martial Law by President Ferdinand Marcos, and Dalin and other older Lumad leaders were in Manila to join the protest.

“Today, nothing has changed. Maybe, the situation is even worse,” Dalin told Bulatlat.com after his fiery speech at the foot of Mendiola bridge.

Dalin is a student of Salugpungan Ta’tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc. (STTICLCI), a school run by the Rural Missionary of Philippines, which had been called a “New People’s Army school” and attacked by soldiers and paramilitary groups in Davao del Norte.

“We are taught about it (Martial Law) in our lessons. Rights violations were rampant. It was very painful to hear. Our elders have their own stories about Martial Law as well,” Dalin said. Now, Lumad youths like him are already getting their own share of the horrific experience.

On Sept. 1, the paramilitary group Magahat-Bagani killed Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo, and Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) in Lianga, Surigao del Sur.

Lumad student Roland Dalin (Photo by Loi Manalansan / Bulatlat.com)
Lumad student Roland Dalin (Photo by Loi Manalansan / Bulatlat.com)

Dalin said that although Alcadev is in another province, the news of the brutal slayings had a chilling effect. “The killings really affected the students. Lumad leaders were killed. Meanwhile, our school continues to be a target,” said Dalin.

Martial Law was “a dark period in the country’s history,” said Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes Jr., and it has extended its shadows up to the present, under President Aquino.

Progressives marched from Plaza Miranda to Mendiola, carrying black mock coffins, to show their indignation over the killings of Lumad leaders. They laid down the mock coffins just below the Mendiola Peace Arch.

“Stop Lumad Killings” and “Oplan Bayanihan kills” were written on the coffins.

Human rights group Karapatan said the use of paramilitary groups to commit rights violations date back to the days of Martial Law. These were called Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF), Ilaga, Rock Christ, Pulahan, Greenan during martial law. Today, the group said they are now called Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU), Special Civilian Armed Auxilliary (SCAA), Investment Defense Force (IDF), Magahat-Bagani Force, Alamara, Sanmatrida, Dela Mance.

“The names may have changed but they are all the same— effectively controlled by the AFP and are responsible for gross human rights violations, including brutal killings,” Karapatan chairperson Marie Hilao-Enriquez said.

Children not spared

In a joint statement, Children’s Rehabilitation Center and Salinlahi Alliance for Children’s Concern said any significant changes after the martial law years ended remain “empty promises up to now” especially, for children’s rights.

On Aug. 18, five Manobos, including two minors were killed in Mendis village, Pangantucan, Bukidnon. The witness to the killings, 16-year-old “Loloy,” identified soldiers as the perpetrators.

The groups also cited the case of a 14-year-old Manobo girl who was raped twice by soldiers stationed in her community in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

“President Aquino is continuing the nightmare of the past and we believe that no real freedom and peace will prosper in the Philippines if our state forces remain to be the number one human rights violator,” Kharlo Manano, Salinlahi secretary general, said. ()

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