Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña yesterday said the legacy that the administration of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos left, which is still present until now, is corruption.
“The number one legacy of Marcos is corruption. That’s why we have corruption everywhere. The Philippines is the most corrupt country in the world because of Marcos. I will stand behind you until my last breath,” the mayor said during a rally at the Plaza Independencia dubbed “Cebu Rages Against Tyranny”.
It was a different kind of honoring of Andres Bonifacio, whose birth anniversary was commemorated yesterday, in that those who fought for freedom and democracy during the Marcos dictatorship were honored and recognized as heroes.
Bimbo Fernandez recalled being imprisoned for seven months at the Dumaguete Provincial Jail for helping sugar workers in Negros organize themselves and fight for their rights during Martial Law.
Auxilium Olayer remembered escaping from the jail where she was detained for helping farmers in the mountains defend themselves from military personnel abusing them there.
Democrito Barcenas of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) said that during the three months that he was imprisoned during the Martial Law, he was only given five minutes a day to see his wife who was then pregnant with their second child.
Ribomapil “Joeyboy” Holganza Jr. was also jailed together with his father Ribomapil Sr. during the dictatorship.
These stories were just some of the many horrible experiences of hundreds of nameless and faceless Martial Law martyrs, according to Judge Meinrado Paredes, who presented a list of Cebuano Martial Law martyrs and survivors who were recognized for anti-dictatorship efforts during yesterday’s anti-Marcos rally.
These are also the stories that the anti-Marcos groups, collectively known as the Cebu Citizens’ Assembly Against the Marcos Burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, want to enshrine in the marker that they will soon erect at the Plaza.
“This is not an exclusive list. There are a lot of martyrs and mga bayani (heroes). There are hundreds of them, nameless and faceless martyrs, farmers massacred and salvaged in the mountains. We should also honor them. By honoring these Cebuanos who fought the dictator Marcos, those who died and survived to continue to fight will exemplify who the real heroes are and provide a correct historical perspective,” said Paredes in a speech during yesterday’s rally.
A groundbreaking ceremony for the marker was held yesterday during the rally.
According to former Cebu City Councilor Alvin Dizon, a known anti-Marcos advocate and among the organizers of the assembly, they still need approvals from city hall to construct the marker which they hope to do as soon as possible.
“This can be a collaborative effort between the city and the anti-Marcos groups. Definitely, we will follow the process,” said Dizon, adding that Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña has already agreed to the plan.
He said they plan to erect it beside the existing Martial Law memorial marker inside the Plaza Independencia with the approval of the Cebu City government and upon the recommendation of the Cebu City Cultural and Historical Affairs Commission. Dizon was the one who authored the ordinance allowing the construction of the Martial Law memorial marker during his term.
Dizon said he will request Councilor Margarita Osmeña to author the resolution for the new marker.
The marker will honor Martial Law martyrs and survivors worthy of emulation.
Nenita “Inday Nita” Cortes Daluz, Fr. Rosalio “Rudy” Romano, lawyer Vicente Balbuena, Professor Evelyn Neri, Ribomapil “Dodong” Holganza Sr., Fr. Luis “Louie” Hechanova and lawyer Valentino Legaspi were recognized as Martial Law martyrs.
On the other hand, Auxilium Toling-Olayer, Francisco “Bimbo” Fernandez, retired Cebu Regional Trial Court Judge Meinrado Paredes, Professor Zenaida Uy, former senator Sergio Osmeña III, Fr. Emi Maningo, Ruben Diaz and lawyer Democrito Barcenas were also honored as Martial Law survivors worthy of emulation.
Some of the survivors that were present during yesterday’s activity included Olayer, Fernandez, Paredes and Barcenas.
They each gave short speeches recalling their experiences during Martial Law and expressed gratitude for the recognition of their efforts during the Marcos dictatorship.
No false heroes
Barcenas, walking with a wooden cane, went onstage and shared that just last month, he could walk perfectly well.
But after hearing a radio report last November 18 that the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was already buried at the LNMB, he was so shocked that he missed a step and hurt his knee and now needed a cane to walk.
“Bisan nagsungkod ko, lig-on gihapon akong kasing-kasing ug utok sa pakigbisog dungan ninyo aron dili mga mini nga bayani ang naa diha sa Libingan ng mga Bayani (Even if I need a cane now, my heart and mind is still strong in fighting with all of you so that there are no false heroes at the LNMB).
Barcenas said he was happy that there are still a lot of youth and millennials actively joining protests like yesterday’s event to push for what they believe in.
He pointed out that during the burial of Marcos last month, several students in Manila and in Cebu went out into the streets to protest on their own.
For her part, Olayer said that aside from the youth, women in the society should also fight against current problems like online sexual abuse, contractualization and for real democracy.
Aside from the honorees and their family members, there were also some key officials who attended yesterday’s rally, including Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tomasito Villarin.
Villarin said Marcos’ burial at the LNMB is a form of historical revisionism.
He said people should remember all that happened during Martial law including those who were killed and tortured, as well as the government money embezzled by the Marcoses.
“They want to change their image. The goal of the Marcoses is to complete their return to power,” he said.