DAVAO CITY, Philippines — A week after the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery, protesters trooped to Freedom Park here Friday to join the “National Day of Unity and Rage Against the Hero’s Burial for Marcos.”

Ailyn Barrios, 20,  was among the protesters from Ateneo de Davao University. She is 24 years younger when the Martial Law declared by the late dictator on Sept. 21, 1972.

But Barrios said she knows that Marcos did not deserve to be buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery.

“He is not a hero. Because of Martial Law, thousands were killed and justice was not afforded to them until now,” she said.

Barrios said she does not need to be born during the Martial Law to know the human rights violations committed by the former President.

“I learned a lot from reading books,” she said.

Many of the protesters came from the colleges and universities, including Ateneo de Davao, Assumption College of Davao, Holy Cross College of Davao and the University of the Philippines.

The protest also brought together Martial Law victims, progressive and civil society organizations. Most of the protesters wore black shirts and carried placards expressing their indignation over the Marcos’ burial.

Historical revisionism

Mags Maglana, convener of Konsyensya Dabaw said they are frustrated that President Rodrigo Duterte “reduced Martial Law and the resistance to it as only being a fight between two families.”

“We cannot understand why a leader who has time and again called out colonizers against historical injustices committed over a century ago would stoop to this degree and level of historical revisionism about atrocities that transpired within the past 44 years,” she said.

Maglana reminded Duterte that the first pastoral letter against Martial Law was issued by then Davao Archbishop Antonio Mabutas in Davao City.

The pastoral letter titled, “Reign of Terror in the Countryside” tacked the abuses committed against church workers particularly the torture and killings of church workers in Catalunan Grande.

“Contrary to the accusation that those opposing the LNMB burial are motivated by hatred, what moves us is the conviction that there can be no healing and real change without justice,” said Maglana.

Misplaced call

Hadji Balajadia, a professor of Social Psychology from AdDU, said his participation is to stand with the victims of Martial Law.

“The call for healing and moving on is a misplaced call. Kailangan ng bansang ito, hindi ang paghilom ng sugat, kundi katarungan (Our country needs justice and not the healing of wounds),” he said.

Balajadia added: “When there is no justice, when there is no truth-telling, there can be no true reconciliation and true moving on.”

He said Marcos’ burial glorifies him and erases the atrocities and memories of Martial Law.

He also expressed dismay over fellow academicians who are not in solidarity with their call.

“It’s really saddening. But what is important that we show the world that we cannot glorify a dictator, a criminal and his legacy in destroying anything that is public in Philippine democracy,” he said.

NDF consultant joins protest

Porferio Tuna, National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultant said Duterte should reverse his position on the Marcos issue.

While he believes the issue will not affect the ongoing peace talks between the NDF and the government, Tuna said the government should realize that the people’s demand is a “cry to end injustice and impunity in the country.”

Tuna’s father is a former organizer of the Federation of Free Farmers in Kapalong, Davao del Norte during the Martial Law. He said his father was detained because of his involvement with the farmers’ organization.

“Our house became a sanctuary of evacuees, especially during the time when they were harassed by members of the Philippine Constabulary,” he told Davao Today.

Tuna said his father’s experience bolstered his belief that Marcos should be held accountable for the string of human rights violations during the time.

Unlimited protest

Upon his arrival from his first attendance to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Leaders’ Meeting in Lima, Peru on Wednesday, Duterte said anti-Marcos protesters could hold their protest actions in all public places for as long as they want without any permit.

He also ordered the military to remain in their camps and the police to keep a lean number in protest areas to “assure the public peace.” (davaotoday.com)

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