Never again! Never forget!
Statement of the Student Friars of the Order of Carmelites
Province of Bld. Titus Brandsma
While many supporters of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos are trying to revise history, glorifying the late dictator and dubbing his brutal and vicious martial law years as the “golden age” of our country’s economy or denying the liabilities of the family members on their role in the atrocities of those times, the dead, the disappeared, the torture victims, the poor who have been robbed of their future, and the whole country who have been stripped of its dignity, continues to call for justice and for the country, for all of us, to never forget.
But we have forgotten, and many of the young people who never experienced martial law and even those who did experience martial law seemed to have forgotten.
The Marcoses are back in power, one even trying to grab the second highest seat of the land, while we have a tyrannical president who publicly extols his family’s relationship with the late dictator and even shamelessly propagandizing the ambition of the younger Marcos for the presidency
Today, we allow ourselves to be ruled by a president who, by all indications, is more inclined in replicating the horrors of martial law rather than to address the concerns of the country such as rising inflation that leads to the rising cost of basic goods and the weakening economic power of the people; increasing number of extra-judicial killings and the rising criminality, which sadly, have implicated many police officers and other government officials who are supposed to protect the welfare of the people; and the continuing suppression, intimidation, and harassment of church people and development workers who are working to help the poor and the people in the margins.
Have we forgotten?
We, the Student Friars of the Order of Carmelites in the Philippines, celebrate the life and contemplate on the sacrifices of our Carmelite brothers and sisters – lay, religious, and priests – who offered their life for the freedom of our country from the tyrannical Marcos dictator.
We remember the Escalante Massacre of September 20, 1985 which killed 20 of our lay faithful in Escalante and injured around 30 others.
We remember Bro. Isagani Valle, whose love for the poor granted him the crown of martyrdom on May 14, 1983, killed by the police in Buenavista, Agusan del Norte. His bullet-ridden body was later put on public display in front of the municipal hall.
We remember Fr. Engelbert van Vilsteren who was hacked to death on January 1973 when he attempted to recover the body of a murdered teacher in one of the mountain barangays of Agusan del Sur.
We remember Fr. Jan Simon Westendorp, Sr. Henrica Berentsen of the Julie Postel Sisters and all the religious, priests and lay faithful who were martyred when, on their way to Cebu as part of their involvement with the rural missions amidst the repression of the Marcos dictatorship, their ship, M/V Doña Cassandra, sank off the coast of Camiguin on November 21, 1983.
And then there are our lay partners who were killed mercilessly for their involvement, most especially in the building of the Basic Ecclesial Communities during the Martial Law years, especially Manoling Malicay, Boy Lagurin, Loloy Algunas, and Ani Mariano.
These are but some of our brothers and sisters in the Carmelite Order – lay, priests, nuns, and brothers – who gave their lives to bring light in the darkest period of our country’s history and fight the evils of the dictatorship of Marcos. There are, of course, all those other victims of the Marcos atrocities.
Today, as we remember the declaration of the Martial Law in 1972, we are faced with the growing tyranny marked by a culture of impunity that denied justice for many victims of extrajudicial killings, torture, enforced disappearances and other unjust and inhuman acts.
Let us not forget and together, let us shout, “Never again to Martial Law!”
St. Elijah Student Friars Community
Order of Carmelites
Province of Bl. Titus Brandsma - Philippines