Thursday, October 25, 2018

Ilocos Norte activists say ‘never again’ to Martial Law

By Leilanie G. Adriano
Staff reporter

LAOAG CITY—As the nation commemorated the September 21, 1972 Martial Law declaration during the time of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, some Ilocano activists mostly composed of farmers, fishermen, youth and human rights advocates from various parts of the province convened a forum today inside the Iglesia Filipina Independiente Church in this city.

During the time of martial law, even the residents of Ilocos Norte were not spared from the terror that it brought.

For 54-year old Antonino Pugyao of Brgy. Cacafean in Marcos, Ilocos Norte and incumbent president of the Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (STOP-Exploitation) in Ilocos Norte, he said his dark memories about human rights abuses during the time of martial law still lingers in his mind.

“We were forced to evacuate our land, the military burned our house, my cousin was killed and some of my barrio mates went missing during the time of Martial Law,” Mr. Pugyao narrated in Ilokano language.

“Years had passed but we can never forget the military abuses during that time,” he added.

Organized by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-Ilocos), the forum meant to commemorate the bad effects of Martial Law and to enjoin all concerned groups and individuals not to allow the declaration of Martial Law ever again in the Philippines.

Known as a progressive church, the IFI hosted the said event attended by more than 200 individuals.

While the ecumenical mass and forum are being conducted at the IFI Church just beside the Ilocos Norte Provincial Capitol, members of the Philippine National Police were alerted to a possible rally which prompted them to preposition police in combat uniforms to ensure peace and order. A fire truck was also placed near the Aurora Park where a crowd usually gather during rallies.

Meanwhile, workers of the Ilocos Norte government also placed loud speakers at the Capitol grounds as they played some of the province’s tourism campaign jingles and others.

Responding to an earlier call of Ilocos Norte Governor Ma. Imelda Josefa ‘Imee” R. Marcos to “move on” from the dark days of Martial Law, Mr. Pugyao quipped, “papaano ka mag-move on kung ang hustisya ay hindi mo pa nakakamit?”

According to the Solidarity of Peasants Against Exploitation (STOP-Exploitation), many farmers from the towns of Vintar, Dumalneg, Solsona, Marcos and Piddig suffered from illegal arrest and torture perpetrated by the military from 1984 until the end of Marcos’ regime.

Also, in 1984, three members of an indigenous community in Pallas Valley, Vintar and eight farmers in Bangui were salvaged.

Aside from these, indigenous communities such as the Yapayao and Isneg were forced to evacuate from their ancestral domain.

The victims in these cases have not yet received any compensation until now.

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