LUGAR LANG| Don’t shoot the messenger

On Nov. 25, we at Konsyensya Dabaw joined the National Day of Unity and Rage, a protest rally against the sneaky burial of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. We were elated to find that the Leftist organizations and the students in Davao were finally joining the struggle, which made our numbers balloon to about 300.

At this point, KD had in fact organized six previous rallies since August 2016 at the Unity Monument and Freedom Park. They were small gatherings, lovingly called “ragtag” by our spokesperson, Mags Z. Maglana. Our trademark white statement umbrellas, thirty of them, initially meant to spell out: “Marcos, Ilubong sa Batac” and “Never 4Get” never had enough persons to carry each of the letters. But we never lacked the passion to carry out the principal message: Marcos is no hero. No to historical revisionism. No to the return of Martial Law.

No matter how small or how difficult, KD stood strong in the belief that our protest happening in Davao remains significant because it is the bailiwick of President Rodrigo Duterte. We hoped that the president would pay attention at least. But now we know from his pronouncements about the Marcos burial that he will not listen to anyone else. He has made up his mind to fulfill his campaign promise to the Marcoses, rather than to the victims of Martial Law. Thus the KD message has matured—this is not just about the burial anymore; this is about justice. We decided on the new slogan for the KD tarpaulin on the morning of Nov. 25: “Without justice, no healing, no real change.”

The president must be held accountable to the victims of Martial Law, many of whom are from Davao. He must be taken to task on his campaign promise to meet with Martial Law victims and hear their side. Most of all, he must be reminded that he ran and won on the promise of CHANGE. Where is the change when we are back to intoning the old Martial Law rally chants: “Marcos, Hitler, Diktador, Tuta!” (or Pasista), or “Makibaka, Huwag Matakot!” Worse, we are back to being in a state of fear. Fear that the Marcoses will be eased back by Duterte into Malacanang through the vice-presidential electoral protest, which might be served by Congress and the Supreme Court to Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. on a silver bilao. Fear that once Marcos Jr. deviously becomes vice-president, he will then become president through even more stealthy moves.

Maybe that stinks of conspiracy theory. But in a political climate like we are in today, in this kakistocracy, anything is possible. So I went to the rally carrying a placard that said exactly what I thought: “DuterTuta.”

Mags discouraged me from bringing it, fearing for my safety. She was afraid I might get harassed by rabid fanatics on the street. So I brought a mask to hide my identity somehow. Even our KD comrades felt that my placard was too dangerous. But it was a message that I deeply believed needed to be put out there, especially in Davao City.  I wanted to reinforce the KD message that Duterte should not allow himself to be used by the Marcoses for their own family agenda—that he should not be their lap dog.

At the march, nobody wanted to walk beside me. Or I didn’t want to march beside anyone else, fearing for their safety. I wanted to assure them that this was MY placard; that they didn’t have to publicly incriminate themselves as Konsyensya Dabaw, even though some of them probably agreed with the message.

I didn’t have to wear a mask. As I had hoped, Davao did not act violently against me nor my placard. The next day, my photo was in the front page of a widely-circulated Cebuano language newspaper. My children both said, “You’re dead” when they saw it. Mags added that we need to reinforce the security of our house now— add locks and outdoor lights. Is that true? Am I dead? Forty years since the declaration of Martial Law, is the Philippines in such a state today that we need to fear for our lives when we come out in public with a message that is true?

Abangan ang susunod na kabanata.

Follow or message me on Twitter @jhoannalynncruz


Posted in Opinion