“The North Remembers”

Mayo 26, 2016


By Arturo P. Garcia

duterte-joma-sisonI lost two of my loved ones during the darkest days of martial law. I lost countless comrades in the thick of our fight against martial law. Friends, comrades, neighbors.

As a historian, I made a list of comrades and during our human rights conference in 1977 in the North, my list was up to 600 persons.

That is why I do not believe in the list that more than 30,000 were killed, missing or disappeared during the 14 years of martial law. Its more than that because there was no clear recording of the atrocities of the Marcos martial law years. So we have to contend with what was recorded then.

In the Eastern Forest Region of Isabela alone more than 150 barrios were evacuated and more than 50,000 people were affected from 1972 to 1977. This was repeated in Eastern Cagayan from 1980 to 1986, in Western Cagayan,Kalinga and Apayao to Ilocos Norte from 1983-1986.

There, three companies of the New People’s Army (NPA) slugged it out with the two army battalions of AFP and the strike companies of PC rangers /INP for more than six years and thousand mostly civilians died in pitched battles and massacres

That is why, as a human rights worker and a media person, I cannot understand presumptive President Rodrigo Duterte’s stubborn and dogged decision to bury the dictator in the National Heroes Cemetery.

As if insulting the victims of human rights violations during martial law, he told them bluntly, ”just collect your claims and forget what happened “ to that effect. And saying in deadpan fashion,”what do you want to do with the body, burn it?’

As if Duterte did not know that the Marcoses violated the agreement with President Ramos that they will bury the dictator’s body in Ilocos Norte. That is the reason why FVR let Marcos body be brought back to the Philippines. Well, I understand that politicans are notorious for breaking their words.

Maybe Duterte made the promise to the Ilocanos and he is now stubborn to stay true to his word. But he should know better that the north suffered like his brothers Moros in Mindanao. In fact, it was the north that suffer the most as I narrated during martial law.

That’s why they remember. Maybe some people will say,”Why then Bongbong won in the Solid North”. It was clear that it was not only Marcos that got their votes but most of all– Duterte.

The North remembers and they want change. They were feed up with the insensitive hacendero President for six years. And actually that’s besides the point. And Duterte cannot make it as an argument that Ilocanos wanted him (Ferdinand Marcos) to be buried as a hero.

It is wrong for Duterte to make that as an explanation why he is adamant to bury the dictator in the “Libingan ng Mga Bayani.”. He should know that the Ilocanos suffer too during martial law. Actually, they suffered the most and they remember.

Let us say, for Christian values, we must bury the dead even they are our enemies. But to honor them as heroes, it is the height of arrogance and wrong expenditure of political capital for Digong Duterte.

His action speaks louder and displays what values he holds dear. And human rights and freedom is not one of them on this case.

I personally who lost two of my loved one and countless comrades and friends, cannot take nor will never understand his actions. You are no different from other Philippine Presidents of the past who will bulldoze their ways among the people.

And on this case, if you will bury the dictator among the heroes of the people, I will never forgive you nor forget what you did to insult the memories of those thousands who died for freedom.

To Digong Duterte, be warned; “THE NORTH REMEMBERS!


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