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COMMENTARY: The Vicarious Victims of Martial Law in the Philippines

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 November) — Amidst hopes that the ruling of the Supreme Court allowing the burial of the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani(LNMB) will be reconsidered, favoring the petitions of the martial victims/survivors/family members of the desaparecidos and human rights activists, came the news that that Marcos was finally buried already at the LNMB.

The news came shocking. Later, the shocking news of the burial sunk in. Feelings and thoughts of betrayal, anger, grief, sadness, pains, and anger and anger…and rage!

The memories of fears, anger, pains, grief, and helplessness during martial law time came back, seethed in. How can it happen again…how can Marcos, and all his powers come back again? How can it happen that even with his demise and downfall, there still exists his and his family’s and his collaborators’ clutch of powers?

In Davao City, victims of human rights violations under dictator Ferdinand Marcos and members of militant groups condemn the sudden burial of his remains Friday noon at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas
In Davao City, victims of human rights violations under dictator Ferdinand Marcos and members of militant groups gather along San Pedro St. afternoon of Nov. 18, 2016 to condemn the noontime burial of  Marcos’ remains Friday  at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. MindaNews photo by Carolyn O. Arguillas

The Marcos family, his supporters, and even some people in the academe would pronounce that all the protesters against Marcos’ burial at the LNMB should move on…that this is now the time for healing and forgiveness and peace…. Move on from what to what?

Healing requires deadening of the virus that caused the malady. Unless it is  recognized and aptly neutralized, it can always return, get worse and stronger and can even kill the organism it invaded!

Forgiveness can happen only when there is confession of the sins committed and atonement for it. Peace is elusive and cannot and never can be sustained if it is not anchored on justice that caused the unpeace!

I was not imprisoned during martial law, but came face-to-face with the unimaginable fear of being imprisoned and tortured because I met people who were imprisoned and tortured. I lost friends and loved ones, and heard many stories of sorrow by those who lost their loved ones, either killed or abducted or never found. Their harrowing grief is still stuck in my mind until now.

I cannot understand how the Supreme Court cannot empathize with the victims and survivors of martial law and go beyond the legal and technical criteria set as to who can be buried at the LNMB. Is the basis of the Court ruling always based on the legal and technical…can it not consider the moral and historical aspects of the people’s cries, though they may not be as numerous as those who were not affected by martial law.?

I cannot understand how the family of Marcos can state very comfortably that they do not owe the martial law victims and survivors an apology for the accusations they cast on their father. I cannot understand how the present administration is really positioning its regard for the triumph of one family vis-à-vis the cries of the victims, survivors and the thousands of families of the desaparecidos.

I have survived martial law and many more challenges are coming, but with the triumphs we have experienced amidst the storms the voice of the people will reverberate and the people will triumph! The light in the night is slowly dying, the rage of the people are seething and silently surging some stormy stars. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Malou Tiangco, is a social worker, a senior citizen who spent four decades in the social transformation movements in the Philippines, “and will continue to be such …for our country, for our people!”)

READ Malou Tiangco’s May 29, 2016 letter to then Mayor and presumptive President Duterte on the Marcos burial at the LNMB 

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