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In Honor of Those Who Fought for Democracy and Human Rights
Volume 20 Number 3
Saturday, 30 September 2006 00:00

by Ludie Montemor

It was on September 21, 1972, that Ferdinand E. Marcos declared Martial Law. Since that fateful day, September 21 has never been forgotten.

On that day, Marcos legitimized his dictatorial regime and made his political opposition paralyzed. He became the most powerful man in the entire country dismantling the legislative branch of government and assumed all the judicial and executive functions.

Thousands of peasant leaders, workers, students, professionals, religious, church workers and even innocent civilians mostly from the countryside were not spared from the cruelty that Martial Law inflicted. It is believed that there were thirty (30) thousand victims who suffered under the military rule. Many were arbitrarily arrested, tortured, detained, killed, harassed, or even abducted and have disappeared. Many villages were burned down and hundreds of people fled their homes in fear of terror. It was a massive disregard of peoples’ rights and dignity.

There was a reign of terror all over the country. Today, we live with the memory of those who suffered under the rule of tyranny.  We are here not only to remember but also to give them honor.

The Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) made efforts in giving honor and dignity to those who perished and suffered during the Marcos Regime.  The organization established Martial Law memory sites in different parts of the country.

In Mindanao, a Martial Law memory site was unveiled during the celebration of the Human Rights Day, December 10, of the year 2002 which was attended by various human right members and alliances together with the victims and their families and friends.  The establishment of the ML marker in Molave, Zamboanga del Sur   was made possible through the joint efforts of TFDP-Western Mindanao Region, the Diocese of Pagadian - the Priests, Sisters and Lay together with The Marker bore the inscription, “IN MEMORY OF THOSE WHO FOUGHT FOR DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS DURING MARTIAL LAW”.

Molave was one of the places of Zamboanga Peninsula which experienced the hardest during Martial Law.  A large number of people were recorded to have been victimized by the Marcos regime many of them farmers and church workers.

Since the establishment of the marker in 2002, it has been a practice that every 21st of September, a mass is held, lighted candles and flowers are offered to remember the martyrs at the mentioned site.  It is attended by the survivors of the dark regime together with their families, friends and members of the human rights community from the provinces of Zamboanga del Sur and Misamis Occidental.  Together they gathered to bear witness to the rites and in unity and silence prayed --- that they would never, never allow Martial law to reign in this country again!  

Ms. Ludie Montemor is the Mindanao Representative of TFDP's Board of Trustees

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