Abner Hizarsa is one of the thousands of youths who were stirred, fired-up and organized in the resurgence of the student movement in the late 60s. A native of Makati, Abner organized among church people, deciding soon enough to organize among peasants in the Central Luzon plains, during the early years of Martial Law.
He was arrested, tortured and detained a total of four times, on charges of rebellion, and later, false charges of common crimes. Twice, he got out through “self-release.” Outwitting his torturers-captors, he showed ultimate defiance: by escaping.
Abner was first arrested in 1978, and was detained in Camp Olivas. He was released after a few months.
In 1984, he married Cris, another peasant organizer and his sweetheart of six years, who hails from Subic, Zambales. Six months after they were married, they were captured in a village raid in Bataan. All men were rounded up and beaten up, but Abner received the worst torture. While in detention, the couple realized that Cris was pregnant with their first child. A month before she gave birth, Cris was freed by the government.
It didn’t take long before Abner himself got free: he escaped in 1985.
In 1986, Abner appeared in public for the first time, as the spokesperson for the National Democratic Front in Bataan. The peace negotiations between the Aquino government and the NDF had just started. But the peace talks collapsed after the Mendiola Massacre and the Lupao Massacre in 1987, and Abner went back underground.
In October 1989, he was arrested in Bataan. Cris described that he was so badly tortured when she saw him. He was swollen all over, and had an inflamed stab wound in the thigh. He was detained for less than two months, escaping in December.
His fourth arrest was in 1992, when he was detained for more than a year at the Bulacan provincial jail. He was released on bail in 1993.
He spent a total of almost seven years in detention, which could have been longer had he not freed himself. But more than defying his captors, Abner’s desire to escape comes from his passion to return to serve the people, to be back in the mass movement that genuinely carries solutions and alternatives to society’s worsening ills.
Abner’s wife Cris said that after all the government repression, and hardships that they went through in their political work as organizers, Abner had always kept his head afloat. He never lost perspective, or hope, that they can always work things out.
“We can swim in the big sea, we can survive the storm surge, but at times, we get drowned in a glass of water! Those are the times when we get absorbed by petty problems, while we forget that the masses face a much bigger problem,” Abner would say.
In the late 90s, Abner was advised by doctors to slow down. He had to recuperate from a respiratory illness, and later had a bypass operation. In 2000, he and Cris settled down in her hometown in Subic, in Ilwas village.
On March 19, during the implementation of Arroyo’s counterinsurgency Oplan Bantay Laya, soldiers of the 24th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (IB PA) stationed themselves at the Ilwas village hall. Residents said that the 24th IB commander, Lt. Col Felipe Anotado, said that they were there to talk to “suspected” residents to “surrender.”
On March 22, 2007, Abner mounted his tri-bike, as he usually does, to bring lunch to his daughter Shara, 10, in the nearby elementary school. As he was crossing the intersection, a white L-300 van blocked him, two men suspected to be state forces, alit and forced him inside the van.