A PEACEFUL rally organized by the Cebu Citizens Assembly Against Tyranny, attended by militant and civic groups and victims of the Marcos Martial Law regime, was the avenue for the airing of their protest against extrajudicial killings (EJKs), human rights violations and the imposition of martial law, and the sharing of experiences of the Martial Law victims.
It was a commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos attended by around 500 rallyists who marched in the streets and converged at the Plaza Independencia, where a short program was held.
And at one point, a police official joined a martial law survivor and a millennial, carrying a placard condemning police abuses, for a photo opportunity.
Among those who participated in yesterday’s rally were at least five political science students from University of San Carlos (USC).
Clad in their green-and-white uniforms, they joined other protesters, most of whom wore black T-shirts, in the march.
Michelle May Rama, a fourth-year political science student of USC, wore her school uniform while walking from P. Del Rosario to Plaza Independencia through Colon Street with a placard calling for an end to EJKs.
“I don’t see any reason to be afraid that I joined the rally wearing my school uniform. What is important for me is to let the people know what are the things that they should stand for,” said Rama.
“Even if I’m wearing my uniform, I am not doing anything that is contradictory to the values of my institution. We all have the freedom of expression which I am fearlessly exercising right now,” she added.
They were also joined by students from the University of the Philippines College Cebu.
Another political science student, Jamil Faisal Adiong admitted to being a former supporter and apologist of the Marcoses, but since he stepped into college, he has changed his perspective and joined the protest.
“History could tell how late president Marcos deceived the Bangsamoros and the lumads. I think that woke me up from the belief that the Martial Law regime was the golden age,” Adiong said.
Kilusan-Cebu spokesperson Emalyn Aliviano expressed the group’s protest over the Duterte administration. In a statement, she said, “Because Duterte’s deal with the Marcoses means he is clearing them of guilt, and thus, he approves of and carries on the crimes of the Marcoses against the people.”
“Duterte said that he hated corruption, addicts, criminals, and evil deeds. However, he is with them and making them witnesses, and he has actually close friends among them — we see a lot of ironies under Duterte and he is really making a mark of his idol Marcos,” she added.
When the rallyists arrived at the Plaza Independencia past 11 a.m., they offered flower wreaths and crosses around the Martial Law marker in the park.
They also lit candles and called for justice for the deaths of several minors in Caloocan City who were reported to have fallen victims of abusive police officers.
Martial Law survivor and human rights lawyer Democrito Barcenas was also present during yesterday’s protest rally.
“There is looming dictatorship even if martial law has not yet been declared. Because there are signs of Martial Law such as policemen raiding the houses of suspected drug personalities without arrest warrants. … That’s why we have to be vigilant and remain united in resisting plans of reviving Martial Law,” Barcenas said.
Cebu City Police Office director Senior Supt. Joel Doria visited Plaza Independencia to monitor the rally.
“The protest was generally peaceful. There were no disruptions made by groups who wanted to interrupt their rallies. We deployed several of our policemen a few meters from the crowd because we are also securing their safety during the rally,” Doria explained. /With Benjie B. Talisic and USJ-R Interns Kristine Remolisan and Rosalie O. Abatayo