September 21, 2012
They haven’t stopped fighting after forty years.
Activists from the 70’s and 80’s joined cause-oriented groups Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Karapatan today in a march to the historic Mendiola bridge to mark the 40th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. At the forefront of the march were human rights victims from the dark years of the Marcos dictatorship. They were joined by a younger generation of activists from different organizations.
“Today we say, ‘Never again’! But in the same breath, we demand justice for all rights victims then and now. Martial Law should never be forgotten. Its bitter lessons and the heroic struggle of the people to overthrow the US-Marcos dictatorship should be told to future generations,” said Bayan chair Carol Araullo who was also arrested and detained during the Martial Law years.
“One of reasons for remembering is to recall the unfinished struggle and unfulfilled aspirations of the people. We decry the failure of all post-Marcos regimes, from the first Aquino regime to the current regime of Benigno Aquino III, to render justice for the victims of Martial Law. That is forty years without justice. Even the indemnification bill is still pending in Congress. Noynoy Aquino has not shown any keen interest in achieving justice for the thousands of victims of the dictatorship,” Araullo added.
Bayan was founded in 1985 at the height of the struggle to topple the US-Marcos regime. Its first chair was Senator Lorenzo Tanada, Jr and its secretary general was Lean Alejandro whose 25th death anniversary was observed last September 19.
“We offer our September 21 march to the memory of all martyrs who fought for genuine freedom and democracy. We dedicate our march to Lean, the recently departed people’s lawyer Atty. Romeo Capulong and to all fighters for national and social liberation. We continue to be inspired by their courage,” said Bayan secretary general Renato M. Reyes , who was born three years after the declaration of Martial Law.
Vestiges of martial rule
“There are those in government who say that it is pointless to compare Martial Law and the present. But some of the vestiges of martial rule can be seen today. We have more than 350 political prisoners in jails all over the country. We still have extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances. And we now have a law that makes restrictions on freedom of expression over the internet,” Reyes added.
“An activist in a remote town in San Jorge, Samar was picked up by the military because he looked different, did not speak the language and seemed out of place. This is not 1972. This is 2011. Political prisoners like Ericson Acosta remain in jail today because of their political beliefs, even as the government denies their existence,” Reyes said. ###