“To Forget is a Crime”: Civil Libertarians Remember “Those Who Fell in the Night”

BY Bulatlat.com
Posted 2:00 p.m., Sept. 20, 2006

Saying that “to forget them is a crime”, civil libertarians today remembered and paid tribute to the martyrs and heroes – those who were killed or abducted –during the Martial Law regime, and under the Arroyo administration.

Framed black and white pictures of victims of political killings and forced disappearances were hung on three panels at the gathering held this morning at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City. The gathering was organized by the First Quarter Storm Movement, Samahan ng Demokratikong Kabataan, the Citizen’s Committee against Killings and Abductions and the Committee for the Protection of Human Rights.

Former Vice President Teofisto Guingona Jr., in a speech, likened the current political killings and abductions to the atmosphere under Martial Law, when the Marcos Dictatorship claimed to have peace and order amidst its human rights abuses. “Wala raw nangyayari (They said everything is normal) but they detained thousands, and many were taken from their prison cells, from their farms, from their homes, and were slain, in what they called ‘salvaging’.”

Thousands of activists and leaders of the political opposition were arrested or killed by state troops after President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in Sept. 21, 1972. His regime was ousted in a People Power uprising on Feb. 25, 1986.

Guingona said “those who fell in the night” eventually became victors when their families and children rose and fought the Marcos Dictatorship. He said President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will possibly meet the same fate as the ousted Dictator. “Iyon ang nangyari noon at palagay ko ay mangyayari rin ngayon.” (That is what happened then and what I think will also happen now.)

The human rights group Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) has recorded some 755 victims of political killings and 184 disappearances.

Progressive singer and poet Jess Santiago paid tribute with the song “Halina”, composed 30 years ago and tells about the abduction and killing of a unionist and a peasant and the displacement of an urban poor family.

Ruth Cervantes, Karapatan public information officer and a “martial law baby” said the pattern of killings and abductions point to state elements as the perpetrators. She also hailed the victims of killings and disappearances and their families, saying, “To us they are no longer victims, they are martyrs and heroes. Their families are no longer grieving families, but defenders of human rights and justice.” (Bulatlat.com)

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