By: Patty Pasion
MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – In a remarkable demonstration of solidarity with Martial Law victims, thousands of students across the country led protest actions against the surprise burial of the late dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Friday., November 18.
Thousands of protesters, mostly the youth, gathered at the People Power Monument along EDSA late Friday.
Led by several organizations of various political affiliations, the demonstrators came from various points in Metro Manila, where some of them mobilized as early as noon, upon receiving news that the dictator had been laid to rest at the Heroes’ Cemetery in Taguig.
They said they expected more protest marchers from the provinces to arrive in Metro Manila to join anti-Marcos activities, and vowed to sustain rallies in key cities until the end of November, the day the country also honors revolutionary hero Andres Bonifacio.
Earlier, students, faculty members, and staff of 3 major schools in Quezon City – the University of the Philippines, the Ateneo de Manila University, and Miriam College – flooded Katipunan Avenue, also to make a statement: “Marcos is not a hero.”
“The events right after the burial are proof that the millennials despite the belittling of our capacity to absorb, even taunting us that we are too detached, have proven ourselves in the ‘parliament of the streets,” Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) spokesperson Joanne Lim said.
“The youth must not view this as a one-day affair. We must push on until justice is served; the culture of impunity is extinguished and we cherish a system of governance where the genuine empowerment of the marginalized is its focal point,” she said.
At the People Power Monument, hundreds of protesters who were first to arrive, led by the Coalition Against Marcos Burial (Camb), shouted “Hukayin!” (Exhume!)
Camb called for protesters to sustain the rallies across the country. Outside the National Capital Region, demonstrations were held in the cities of Baguio, Puerto Princesa, Bacolod, Cebu, and Davao.
The #BlockMarcos Movement, which is also coordinating with Camb, planned to troop to the Heroes’ Cemetery on November 30, to stage an Occupy Libingan ng mga Bayani protest.
The Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses in Malacañang (Carmma), another protest group working with the leftist Bayan Muna, said its members will hold continuous rallies.
Former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares said they are still studying whether they will file a motion for reconsideration before the Supreme Court. He was the lead counsel for one of the petitioner groups that lost their bid to stop Marcos’ burial at the Heroes’ Cemetery.
Make Duterte accountable
The protesters expressed anger against President Rodrigo Duterte, who gave the go signal for the burial.
“Dapat siya managot kasi siya naman talaga ang nagbigay pahintulot at nag-encourage na ilibing si Marcos sa Libingan ng mga Bayani,” Ellecer Carlos of human rights group iDefend said.
(He should be held accountable because he really is to blame. He allowed and encouraged the burial of Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery.)
Other leftist groups echoed the call. The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, for instance, said, “We hold the Duterte administration responsible for this latest insult to the victims of Martial Law and to the valiant struggle of our people to bring down the conjugal dictatorship.”
However, Akbayan Youth chairperson Rafaela David, one of the organizers of the Friday night rally, said it was too early at this point to consider legal actions.
“But for sure, we are really disappointed at the support the administration has given [to the Marcoses], and, of course, they have to be held accountable,” she said.
Negrenses join protest
PROTEST RALLY. Negrenses stage a rally at the Fountain of Justice in Bacolod City following the hero’s burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos on November 18, 2016. Photo by Marchel P. Espina/Rappler
In Bacolod City, Negrenses joined the nationwide protest against a hero’s burial for Marcos by holding a rally at the Fountain of Justice.
Christian Tuayon, secretary-general of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan-Negros (Bayan-Negros), expressed outrage because the burial was kept a secret to the public. He added that Filipinos, especially Martial Law victims,were betrayed.
He slammed the Duterte administration for allowing it, saying: “He (Duterte) claims he’s pro-people. Before he left the country [for Peru], he had a press conference and he didn’t even mention the burial. He kept it a secret [from] the people.”
Negros Occidental Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said, “I echo what Vice President Leni Robredo said, ‘It was done like a thief in the night,’ just like when he (Marcos) declared Martial Law and arrested all his political opponents.”
He added that the burial will open the wounds of the Martial Law victims.
INDIGNATION RALLY. Photo by Keith Fabro
Palawan youth leaders light candles
In Puerto Princesa City, dozens of student leaders gathered in front of the Palawan provincial capitol at around 6 pm to express their indignation against Marcos’ unannounced burial.
“Malinaw na itong rehimen natin sa kasalukuyan ay hindi nagsisilbi sa ating mamamayan kung saan ipinamumukha sa atin itong pagbulaga na paglilibing kay Marcos na hindi pinaalam sa atin, na pambabastos sa ating kasaysayan,” said youth leader Ronces Paragoso.
(It’s clear that the current administration is not serving the Filipino people. This brazen, sudden burial of Marcos was not disclosed to us. It smacks of utter disrespect for our history.)
“Marami ang naging biktima ng human rights violations, torture – mga desaparecidos na ilang taon na ang nakararaan ngunit hanggang sa ngayon ay hindi pa rin nabibigyan ng hustisya,” she added.
(Many became victims of human rights violations, torture – the desaparecidos who have yet to be given justice until now, many years later.)
Ingold Faye Arribe, editor-in-chief of the student publication of the Palawan State University, said they were protesting on behalf of the campus writers who were silenced after taking a stand against the Marcos dictatorship.
As the youth protesters lit candles, PSU Student Council president Myka Magbanua said: “We will never forget.” – with reports from Marchel Espina in Bacolod and Keith Anthony S. Fabro in Puerto Princesa/Rappler.com