bantayog.foundation

bantayog.foundation

FAUSTINO, Gerardo T.

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Even as a young boy in high school, Gerardo Faustino was already interested in current affairs, and his opinions expressed progressive and nationalist ideas. He was the elder of two sons of a lawyer and a teacher. He did not choose to follow his father’s profession, with a glamorous and lucrative future ahead of him, but took up a degree course in agriculture instead.

Martial law was already in force when he entered the University of the Philippines in Los Baños (UPLB) in 1973. The UP Student Catholic Action was one of those organizations that were allowed on campus (others had been banned), and Faustino joined it. He particularly appreciated UPSCA’s extension programs for students who wanted to help the poor.

At UP Los Baños a raging issue at the time was the role played by American government and business interests in determining academic and research programs. Students and faculty members denounced what they saw as the university’s subservience to foreign dictation, and Faustino was part of the protest actions they organized.

Recognition of his leadership skills came as Faustino was elected a representative to the UPLB student conference, an interim body created due to the abolition of the student council upon the proclamation of martial law in 1972. He was chosen to head a committee that worked hard toward the restoration of this council.

On the last weekend of July 1977, Faustino went home to Quezon City as he usually did, then left for what he said was "an important meeting." It was the last time his family would see him alive.

When he failed to come for two successive weekends, his parents got worried and started asking around. They discovered that other parents were also looking for their activist children from UP Los Baños, all of whom had disappeared with their son. Ten persons had disappeared within days of each other, possibly in a single operation: Gerry Faustino, Jessica Sales, Modesto Sison, Ramon Jasul, Cristina Catalla, Rizalina Ilagan and four others.

Months after that, the families of Ilagan, Catalla and Sales were told by the military that the three missing young women were killed in an encounter in Mauban, Quezon. But the authorities denied any knowledge of the whereabouts of the six. Their bodies were never found, except for that of Sison which was later found buried in a common grave in Lucena City.

EVANGELIO, Ronilo T.

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The “beginning of the end” for the Marcos dictatorship’s oppressive rule, it may be said, was when Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. was killed at the airport as he returned to the Philippines after years of exile abroad. Suddenly, it seemed, the nation – including those who had previously kept silent – decided that the time had come to take action themselves and work actively for the regime’s downfall.

Nilo Evangelio had been working as an electrician at the Batangas city hall, earning the meager income on which his parents and younger siblings depended. But the shocking assassination of Aquino jolted him and his friends. They started attending rallies and organizing political meetings. Evangelio was designated as the provincial coordinator for the Justice for Aquino, Justice for All (JAJA) chapter in Batangas.

In March 1984, a big protest march was scheduled to be held, the first of its kind, involving one column of marchers coming from the north of Manila and another from the south. Tens of thousands would walk for seven days, starting simultaneously on March 1 from San Pablo City (Laguna) and Concepcion, Tarlac. The two columns would meet at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park and hold a culminating rally there.

The march was called Lakbayan, for “Lakad para sa Kalayaan ng Bayan,” the People’s March for Freedom. It was part of a campaign to boycott the elections for the Batasang Pambansa, to be held the following month.

Evangelio and his friends Ysmael Umali, Aurelio Magpantay and Ronilo Noel Clarete, all of them In their 20s, joined the Lakbayan. On March 7, the last day, they were at the site of the rally with the rest of the tired and hungry marchers. Early that evening, the four said they would be going somewhere for a while, but leaving their belongings with the others. Then they disappeared.

After three weeks of searching by their families, the bodies of Evangelio and the three others were accidentally found in a shallow grave in Silang, Cavite. They had been brutally tortured. To this day, their killers have not been identified, nor have the exact date and place of their death been established.

Crowds of sympathizers joined the funeral procession and wake of the four, who were buried in a single casket because, as their families said, they “disappeared together, died together and lived together for a cause.”

ESCANDOR, Juan B.

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Juan B. Escandor was a medical doctor – a cancer specialist and radiologist at the nation’s premier hospital, the Philippine General Hospital – but also “an indefatigable social worker,” according to his friends, who knew how frustrated he was with the injustice of the prevailing system in the country.

He wanted to help build a better Philippines. More simply, he dreamed of putting up a hospital in his hometown and conducting free clinics for the poor (which he was already doing whenever he could).

Escandor was a graduate (1969) of the University of the Philippines College of Medicine. He started at the radiology department of the UP-PGH, becoming chief resident in 1971 and eventually consultant. He then headed the research department of the Cancer Institute of the Philippines in 1972, and taught at the UP College of Medicine.

When martial law was declared in 1972, he left behind a promising career to go underground, volunteering to serve in the rural areas in the Cagayan Valley. The regime issued a P180,000 reward for the capture of the “NPA doctor.”

His decision was not at all surprising to those who knew him. Almost from the very beginning, Escandor was seriously involved in nationalist causes. He was a founding member of the militant student organization, the Kabataang Makabayan (KM), and became active in its workers' bureau. He organized institutional workers at the PGH. He worked among urban poor communities.

He spearheaded the formation of the Sorsogon Progressive Movement in 1969 and helped put up the Progresibong Kilusang Medikal. When the First Quarter Storm erupted in 1970, he was at the forefront of the mass actions. He was again very active in the 1972 Operasyon Tulong which brought medical services to flood victims in Central Luzon.

Escandor is invariably described as a dutiful son, a diligent student and a doctor dedicated to healing his patients, unmindful of any material reward. He was handsome, athletic (a member of the UP track and field team), “ … he had everything,” as his father said.

Escandor was killed in Manila in 1983 in circumstances still not completely established. He and a companion, Yolanda Gordula, had dinner with friends in Caloocan City on March 30, 1983; it was the last time they were seen alive. A few days later, military authorities announced that Escandor had been shot dead in an encounter with constabulary troopers in Bohol Avenue, Quezon City. But conflicting details about the incident were never explained.

An autopsy performed later on the body revealed that Escandor was severely tortured before he died. No trace has been found of Gordula until today.

Johnny Escandor was 41 years old when he died. His death, according to his classmates at medical school, “remind[s] us all that the primary duty of the physician is to heal. And that healing transcends social boundaries and political beliefs.”

ENRIQUEZ, Albert R.

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Albert Enriquez was a young human rights worker in Quezon when he was abducted in 1985, only 200 meters away from home. Despite all his family’s efforts to find him, he disappeared without a trace.

Enriquez was a bright student with many accomplishments. He belonged to the top 10 of his high school graduating class, passed the qualifying examinations for the Philippine Military Academy, and was one of only two high school graduates from Quezon province to be given a state scholarship to go to college.

Instead of pursuing a military career, however, he chose to enrol in civil engineering at the Luzonian University, the biggest school in the province. Martial law had curtailed the activities of student organizations, but under his leadership as president of the technology department, the various school organizations and fraternities were able to unite and revive the University Collegiate Student Council. Enriquez was elected its chairman for the school year 1984-1985. Under his leadership, the council negotiated with school authorities for improvements in school facilities and a freeze on tuition fee increases.

This was a time, after the assassination of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. in 1983, when people were deciding, all over the Philippines, that enough was enough. Enriquez, who was only in grade school when martial law was declared, now became an active participant in cause-oriented politics. He volunteered to work with the local unit of Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, which had been documenting the numerous cases of violations and military abuses in Quezon. He joined the Lucena City chapter of Bayan, and later became its secretary. He assisted prominent human-rights lawyers Joker Arroyo, Wigberto Tañada and Ed Abcede in a court case involving political detainees. At a protest rally held to commemorate the second death anniversary of Aquino’s assassination, he was the emcee, and he read out aloud to the audience the long list of human rights violations in the province.

Not long afterwards, Enriquez was on his way home when two armed men dragged him from the tricycle he was riding into a car. He shouted: "I am Abet Enriquez. My parents are Mario Enriquez and Clarita Rivera. Tell my parents I've been picked up by the military!" Two days later, his family heard that tricycle drivers in the area had been talking about the incident.

His parents searched high and low for their only son. They approached relatives, and friends of relatives, to help them. They wrote letters to the authorities, all the way up to Malacañang. They waited in various detention centers, military camps and defense offices. Sometimes, they received answers that gave them hope he was still alive, and they just needed to bring him a change of clothes. More often there would be denials that a young man of that name was being held in custody. Once, they received a tip from an anonymous letter writer that a military man who knew about the abduction was preparing to leave the country.

The parents of Albert Enriquez died without seeing him again.

DULAG, Macli-ing

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To the Marcos dictatorship, the indigenous communities of the Cordillera mountain range in the north of Luzon could easily be dealt with as it proceeded with its plan to build a huge dam on the Chico River.

But the Kalinga and Bontok peoples knew that the project would flood their ricefields and their homes, communal forests and sacred burial grounds. It would destroy their lives by changing their environment forever.

Macliing Dulag was a respected elder of the Butbut tribe in the tiny mountain village of Bugnay in the 1960s. He was a pangat, one of those listened to by the community because of their wisdom and courage. He was also the elected barrio captain of Bugnay, serving out three terms since 1966.

Ordinarily, he tended his ricefields and worked as a laborer on road maintenance projects (earning P405 a month).

In 1974, the regime tried to implement a 1,000-megawatt hydroelectric power project, to be funded by the World Bank, along the Chico River. The plan called for the construction of four dams that would have put many villages under water, covering an area of around 1,400 square kilometers of rice terraces (payew), orchards, and graveyards. As many as 100,000 people living along the river, including Macliing's Bugnay village, would have lost their homes.

Macliing became a strong and articulate figure in this struggle which pitted small nearly powerless communities in the Cordilleras against the full powers of the martial law regime. Kalinga and Bontok leaders were offered bribes, harassed by soldiers and government mercenaries, even imprisoned. But the anti-dam leaders, including Macliing, stayed firm in their opposition to the project. They argued that development should not be achieved at such extreme sacrifice.

"If you destroy life in your search for what you say is the good life, we question it,” Macliing said. ”Those who need electric lights are not thinking of us who are bound to be destroyed. Should the need for electric power be a reason for our death?"

Macliing expressed the people’s reverence for the land, affirming their right to stay: “Such arrogance to say that you own the land, when you are owned by it! How can you own that which outlives you? Only the people own the land because only the people live forever. To claim a place is the birthright of everyone. Even the lowly animals have their own place…how much more when we talk of human beings?"

Resistance to the dam project unified the Cordillera region. Macliing and other Cordillera leaders initiated a series of tribal pacts (bodong or vochong), which helped cement this unity and create a very broad alliance of the communities and their supporters. They recognized the leader of the Butbut as their spokesperson, for although Macliing had had no formal education, he always found the right words for what they needed to say.

Macliing was murdered by government soldiers on April 24, 1980. They surrounded his house one night and sprayed it with bullets. His assassination merely solidified opposition to the dam and won it sympathizers from all over the country and even abroad. Even the World Bank, which would have funded the dam construction, withdrew from the project, finally forcing the martial law government to cancel its plans.

Four of Macliing's killers were charged and in 1983 tried before a military tribunal. An army lieutenant and a sergeant were subsequently found guilty of murder and frustrated murder. The lieutenant was later reinstated in the army, rose to become a major, and then himself was killed in 2000 by the New People’s Army.

DIOKNO, Jose W.

“Even if we have to wade through blood and fire, we will be free. We will develop. We will build our own societies. We will sing our own songs.”

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At the height of the martial-law dictatorship’s abusiveness and greed, Jose W. Diokno never lost faith in the Filipino people’s ability to overcome hardships and construct a better future.

Considered one of the worthiest senators the country ever had, Diokno was an exemplary public servant and a champion of civil liberties who devoted himself to the collective struggle for democracy, justice and freedom.

He was the son of Ramon Diokno, a nationalist political figure who was associate justice of the Supreme Court at the time of his death in 1954; his grandfather was Katipunan revolutionary general Ananias Diokno of Batangas.

Jose W. Diokno’s intellectual brilliance was manifested early: valedictorian of his high school class, he obtained his commerce degree in 1940 summa cum laude; and shortly after that, at the age of 18 topped the board tests for certified public accountants (so young his license was withheld until he turned 21).

World War II interrupted his law studies at the University of Santo Tomas but he used the time to work in his father's law office. By special permission from the Supreme Court, Diokno was allowed to take the bar in 1944 even without a law degree. He and Jovito R. Salonga topped the bar exams, both getting the same high score. Many years of outstanding law practice followed.

Appointed to President Diosdado Macapagal’s cabinet as justice secretary in 1962, Diokno caught the public’s attention when his investigation into the dealings of American businessman Harry Stonehill turned up evidence of massive government corruption. But it was Diokno who was forced to resign.

That same year, he ran and won as a senatorial candidate of the Nacionalista Party, to which Ferdinand Marcos belonged. In the Senate, he championed the national interest in important economic legislation and foreign policy. He was on his second term as senator when Marcos suspended the writ of habeas corpus in 1971, effectively authorizing the arbitrary arrest of citizens. Diokno resigned from the Nacionalista Party in protest. By then he was in the thick of the mass protests that registered the people’s opposition to, among others, oil price increases and the abuse of civil liberties.

Diokno was among the first to be arrested when Marcos declared martial law in 1972. He was imprisoned for two years without charges, including several months of solitary confinement in Fort Magsaysay in Laur, Nueva Ecija. After his release in 1974, he organized and led a small group of lawyers to form the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), which provided legal counsel to political prisoners and other victims of martial law.

With him as its chair from 1975 to 1982, the Civil Liberties Union of the Philippines published the first serious analysis of martial rule in the booklet, The State of the Nation after Three Years of Martial Law.

After the downfall of the Marcos regime in 1986, Diokno was appointed chair of the Presidential Commission on Human Rights, although he was already seriously ill by then. He was also the first head of the Philippine government panel that conducted peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.

For all his responsibilities as a public advocate, he was a good family man, teaching his 10 children by example together with his wife and closest companion Carmen Icasiano.

Jose W. Diokno succumbed to lung cancer on February 27, 1987, one day after he turned 65. His legacy of outstanding service to the Filipino people is remembered to this day.

DINGCONG, Demosthenes

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The long and oppressive rule of the Marcos dictatorship would not have been possible without the support and cooperation of powerful civilian officials at the local level. The regime relied mainly on its military forces, and many of these civilian officials also had a military background. They maintained private armies who functioned as paramilitary units of the regular armed forces.

In such places, and especially during the dictatorship, violence ruled. Governance was not subject to the rule of law, but only to the wishes of the local tyrant who spent the people’s money as he wished, and controlled illegal activities such as gambling and smuggling. The government’s counter-insurgency program was frequently an excuse for the killing of political opponents.

Demosthenes Dingcong was a journalist who wrote about government and military corruption and abuses under the harrowing conditions of martial law. He was killed for it.

Dingcong was the provincial correspondent of the newspaper Bulletin Today. Like most community journalists, he wrote for several publications and hosted a radio program. Although he was a well-known personality, it was not easy for him to live a comfortable life; he and his family lived in a house that they rented for P70 a month.

Writing under martial law conditions was difficult enough, but Dingcong faced greater difficulties than most. Lanao was a stronghold of Marcos henchman, the warlord Ali Dimaporo, then Lanao governor. Yet Dingcong continued to do his job. "I have never been cowed [into exchanging] my freedom to write the truth," he wrote just before he was killed.

He exposed anomalies committed by local politicians, military abuses, the plight of political prisoners, the existence of a military protection racket for big- time jai-alai bookies in Iligan, and corruption in public office, among others. City officials often threatened him, one of whom even pointed a gun at him once. In another incident, two men tried to shoot him in a market place.

In October 1980, Bulletin Today published his exposé on fund irregularities at the government-run Mindanao State University, where Dimaporo sat as chairman of the board. The article revealed the disappearance of a P1.35-million fund intended for students' food and allowances.

Dingcong had to go into hiding after this exposé was published. Writing to the National Press Club, he said that certain persons had been roaming the city looking for him, ready to kill him on sight. After a few days, however, he went back home. But on December 5, a gunman crept from behind him inside his house in Iligan City and shot him in the head.

Journalists all over the country, led by the National Press Club and other professional organizations, issued statements expressing anger over his killing.

And although the local officials stayed away from Dingcong’s wake and funeral, thousands of ordinary people came to mourn his death.

In a tribute to the martyred journalist, the bishop of Iligan, Fernando R. Capalla, pointed out: “…[A]t last a poor person like Demy – one of your own in your poverty – was able to destroy the myth that the truth about Lanao and Iligan cannot be told and publicized.”

Because of the strong negative reaction, President Marcos had to promise an immediate investigation and justice for Dingcong. Four suspects, all constabulary soldiers, including a personal bodyguard of Dimaporo, were arrested. One actually admitted to being the gunman.

However, three were immediately cleared of charges. The confessed killer was released not long after and got hired as a bodyguard of another provincial official.

DEHERAN, Pepito L.

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Pepito Deheran was a quiet teenager in Angeles City, Pampanga, happy to play basketball with friends. He stopped going to school after his second year in high school and tried in various ways, mostly as a tricycle driver, to augment his family's income.

After Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. was killed in 1983, Pepito, called Peng by family and friends, became involved with the Concerned Citizens of Pampanga. He joined protest rallies organized in Angeles City to denounce the regime's abuses. He campaigned actively to expose the May 1984 Batasang Pambansa elections as a maneuver to fool the people, organizing meetings in his barangay and building core groups for the boycott movement. The local authorities did not like it.

In the early dawn of May 30, 1984, soldiers and members of the local militia (Civilian Home Defense Force, or CHDF) surrounded a hut in Sapang Bato, where Deheran, with his close friends Rolando Castro and Lito Cabrera who owned the hut, had been sleeping. The three were brought to a nearby constabulary detachment, where they were tortured. All of them denied being members of the New People’s Army. They were then taken out of the constabulary detachment to an isolated place, and there stabbed repeatedly. They were then left for dead, on the banks of the nearby Apalit River, one kilometer apart from each other.

After his attackers had gone, Deheran crawled to the roadside, hailed a passing vehicle and asked to be taken to a hospital. At the Central Luzon General Hospital, he was treated for 14 stab wounds, a broken leg, and bruises all over his body. Some of the attackers were known to him, he told his mother Gregoria, naming two militia members. He also said the soldiers were in uniform but without name tags. He gave the same information in a sworn statement witnessed by several lawyers.

Very early the following day, June 2, Gregoria was keeping watch when she saw a man pull down the hospital's electric power switch, and another man entered the intensive care unit where her son was lying in critical condition. Then she heard her daughter shout: "Mother, Mother, Peng has been stabbed again!"

Pepito Deheran died from his many wounds that same evening. He was 27.

During his wake, his mother recounted, they received the news that Deheran’s passport had been approved; he could now leave for the Middle East, where he would have worked as a laborer.

DELA PAZ, Remberto "Bobby" Daniel A.

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After graduating from medical school, Remberto Daniel “Bobby” Dela Paz turned his back on a potentially lucrative career in Manila and left for Samar, to set up a community-based health program there for the poor. There he was assassinated by martial law forces.

In the 1970s, Dela Paz was a student activist in UP Diliman and later in medical school. He joined the Samahan ng mga Makabayang Siyentipiko and Liga ng Agham para sa Bayan, and took part in the First Quarter Storm and the Diliman Commune. At the UP College of Medicine, he contributed articles to the newsletter UP Medics, joined the Progresibong Kilusang Medikal, helped organize the Medical Students Society, and volunteered in the college's outreach program called Klinika ng Bayan.

He spent his required six-month rural medical work in Samar province where he saw the dark reality into which Ferdinand Marcos' one-man rule had plunged the province. He saw, besides extreme poverty, widespread maltreatment and abuse of citizens. It was a place where medical services were badly needed. Upon becoming a full-fledged doctor in 1978, he returned to the province with his wife Sylvia, also a new physician.

The couple set up the community-based health program and their first clinic in Gandara, Samar. It was open to everyone. Using the Primary Health Care approach, Dela Paz went to remote villages to attend to the sick, teach first aid, basic hygiene and nutrition to community health workers. He used appropriate technology with herbal medicine and acupuncture, and even assembled an acupuncture oscillator made from local materials at minimal cost.

The martial law regime took note of the couple's activities, and they were labelled as subversives. Threats to their safety became more and more apparent, and friends urged them to leave Gandara.

They did move, but only to nearby Catbalogan City where they resumed their work. "I am a doctor and the only thing I should fear is not being a good one," were Dela Paz’s memorable words. He explained: “Kami ay mga iskolar ng bayan at nais naming magbahagi ng kaalaman at kasanayan sa taong bayan na katuwang ng pamilyang nagpaaral sa amin.” (The people paid for our education just as much as our families, and we should share our knowledge and skills with them.)

Many poor people came to the Dela Paz clinic for treatment, and some may have been members of the New People’s Army operating in the area; invariably, they left with added knowledge and skills. As a doctor, Bobby dela Paz refused to limit himself only to treating diseases. Instead, he went to the people and lived with them, in the process witnessing the effects of an unjust system upon the health and lives of poor communities, especially the children. He came to the conclusion that when government itself becomes their oppressor, the people have a right to rise up in arms.

Dela Paz was assassinated by a single gunman on April 23, 1982, while he was working in his clinic. For over seven hours at the Samar Provincial Hospital, doctors took turns operating on him to save his life, while his wife Sylvia facilitated blood donations from friends, community health workers and former patients even from nearby islands. Outside the cordoned-off hospital, scores of people, rich and poor, held a vigil and prayed. Dela Paz succumbed just past midnight. He was 29 years old.

DELA FUENTE, Edward L.

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In 1973, soon after the opening of the first schoolyear under martial law, a group of college students in Iloilo were caught writing slogans and putting up posters that protested against the militarization of their campus.

Edward Dela Fuente and eight other young people were arrested and beaten up. Released from jail only after 14 months, Edward was persuaded by his parents to go back to school. But he did not finish his course in political science, dropping out to take an office job. His heart, however, was not in it: there was a bigger challenge out there.

“I believe that fighting the dictatorship is a noble cause and I would regret it if I don’t join,” he told his father. – “I also believe that it’s a noble cause,” the father said. “But I do not want to be sending you to your death. I cannot give my permission.” – “Then I’m not asking for your permission,” the son replied. “You’ve merely been informed of my decision.”

Dela Fuente was the eldest son of two leaders of the Baptist Church in Iloilo. He regularly attended church services, and was president of the National Baptist Youth of the Philippines. He was also editor-in-chief of the campus paper at Central Philippine University (CPU). He had a gift for expressing his ideas and feelings in Ilonggo and English.

Even before 1972 he had already joined the Kabataang Makabayan chapter in CPU. When martial law was declared, he continued organizing clandestinely in school (where his mother was teaching), among students, faculty and employees.

After taking leave of his family, Dela Fuente spent the next 10 years among the poor people living in the central mountain ranges of Panay. He was “Ka Ponso,” a skilled negotiator and troubleshooter, often sent to expansion areas to settle conflicts or to organize new groups. He had a way of stating truths that was acceptable to people. He was an articulate writer and a serious artist. He kept abreast with his reading.

On March 29, 1983, Edward’s younger brother John was asleep in a relative’s house when he was shot at close range by men in uniform. The local constabulary authorities said it was “an armed encounter,” but most people said he had been “salvaged.” In a handwritten poem sent to his family, Edward wrote about “our dream”: “…an eternal flame/ that lights/ countless torches/ in the throbbing hearts/ of millions.”

One year later, on April 20, 1984, a Good Friday, Edward himself and two others were killed in the village of Unat, a few kilometers away from the town center of Ibajay, Aklan. The military said they had died in an encounter with a constabulary patrol. Eyewitnesses said that Edward, Diore Antonio Mijares and an unidentified person, were captured alive and shot dead some distance away from where they fell. The eyewitnesses also said that Edward could have escaped, but that he was caught when he came back to assist Mijares who was more gravely wounded. The autopsy reports indicated they had been tortured.

At Dela Fuente’s wake in their residence in Jaro, Iloilo City, hundreds of people came to pay their respects. Most of them were peasants from all over Panay. They told his family how their son made an impact on their lives, his mother said. And when it was time to take him to his final resting place four kilometers away, they insisted on carrying his coffin on their shoulders.

His brother said Edward “had a brave vision about a world where oppression and poverty have no place, and I believe he died trying to work for this kind of a world.”

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