bantayog.foundation

bantayog.foundation

DINGCONG, Demosthenes

dingcong

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.

deheran

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.

de la paz

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.

dela fuente

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.”

DEL ROSARIO, Carlos B.

del rosario

Carlos Del Rosario was a brilliant student and won leadership, oratory and declamation awards. He was chosen city councilor of Manila during Boys' and Girls' Week. He wrote for his high school paper and was chosen as delegate to the secondary school press conferences.

At the Lyceum where he obtained his degree in political science, he was vice-president of the student council. After graduation he taught at the Philippine College of Commerce (now Polytechnic University of the Philippines).

Fellow teachers describe Del Rosario, called Caloy or Charlie, as amiable and easy to get along with, diligent and trustworthy. He was an organization man as well as an effective articulator.

Already he was a student activist in the mid-1960s, having imbibed the ideas of nationalists such as Claro M. Recto, Lorenzo Tañada, Jose Laurel, Teodoro Agoncillo and Renato Constantino. He denounced neocolonialism and, particularly, the highly unequal relationship between the Philippines and the United States. There was a need, he said, for another propaganda movement such as that launched by Jose Rizal, Marcelo H. Del Pilar and Graciano Lopez Jaena which started the Philippine Revolution in 1896. He also believed that the Katipunan revolution led by Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Jacinto and others was unfinished and had to be completed.

His staunch nationalism and advocacy of national sovereignty and independence led him to be among the early organizers of the Kabataang Makabayan in 1964. Del Rosario was the militant youth group’s first vice-president; he was also national treasurer and secretary-general.

During the crucial First Quarter Storm of 1970, he was instrumental in organizing the massive demonstrations, conferences and congresses that helped revive and spread the nationalist movement in the Philippines. That same year, he was a key member of the Movement for a Democratic Philippines (MDP) that mobilized a broad front of activist organizations.

Del Rosario disappeared at the height of student agitation and protest actions. He was last seen on the night of March 19, 1971, putting up posters for a forthcoming MDP national congress inside the PCC campus in Lepanto, Manila. He was expected later that evening at an MDP meeting in Quezon City, but he did not show up.

His parents, suspecting that the military may have had something to do with his disappearance, searched for him in the various military camps. They asked for Malacañang's help. They combed through newspapers, and listened attentively to radio and television newscasts, hoping to get some clues about what happened to their missing son.

But they never found him.

Carlos Del Rosario was 27 years old when he disappeared.

DE JESUS, Jeremias S.

de jesus

A local leader of the political opposition to the Marcos regime, Jeremias De Jesus was killed fighting for genuine and honest elections to replace the oppressive dictatorship.

De Jesus was a trusted supporter of Senator Benigno Aquino Jr. who had been murdered in 1983 as he returned from exile in the United States. When martial law was imposed in 1972, he had been working for Jose Yap, Aquino’s close ally who represented the province of Tarlac in the House of Representatives.

Thus, throughout martial law and especially with the persecution of Aquino by the Marcos regime, De Jesus remained loyal to the cause; by the 1980s he was known in his hometown of Capas as the "grand old man" of the political opposition. When Marcos called for a “snap” presidential election in 1985 in an attempt to provide legitimacy to his extended rule, De Jesus worked tirelessly in support of Corazon Aquino’s campaign to oust Marcos through the ballot. He was named municipal chair of the PDP-Laban party in Capas.

Marcos desperately wanted to win in Tarlac to show he could beat Corazon Aquino in her home grounds. Also, “the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan or KBL [Marcos’ party] is bent on winning by a wide margin [here] so massive electoral frauds will be justified elsewhere,” according to some.

The atmosphere in the province became very tense. Armed supporters of the mayor would take pictures of inspectors in election registration centers, and harassing those who stayed loyal to the Aquinos. Members of the Civilian Home Defense Force went around telling people to vote for Marcos and threatening to kill opposition leaders. De Jesus was repeatedly warned.

On January 14, 1986 – the snap election was scheduled to be held on February 7 – De Jesus joined a group that went to the United States embassy in Manila to complain about the electoral terrorism in Tarlac.

The following day, back in Tarlac, De Jesus was on the road after having distributed food to PDP-Laban poll watchers in Barangay O’Donnell. The car that he was riding was stopped along the way by an unidentified person, who sprayed bullets from an M-16 automatic rifle and then escaped. De Jesus and the car’s driver, Alberto Briones, both died.

Thousands came to his burial, including provincial and municipal officials who joined the funeral march to express their protest. By that time the international media were focusing on the Filipino people’s struggle to oust the Marcos dictatorship, so that the brazen murder was widely reported abroad.

When the snap election was held just a few weeks after, Corazon Aquino beat Ferdinand Marcos in her home province, thanks in large part to people like Jeremias de Jesus who sacrificed their lives to help end the dictatorship.

DAPOG, Eliseo G.

Dapog

Eliseo Dapog was the eldest son of a farming couple in Quezon province. His parents just had enough to feed nine children, but not to send them to school after the elementary grades. His father was ailing and Eliseo began early to take responsibility for the family, and their six-hectare farm where they grew rice and corn.

Even as a teenager, Dapog already involved himself in community affairs, joining a campaign against cattle rustling when he was only 15 years old. He also started a family early, getting married at age 16. Eliseo taught his four children the values he himself lived by, foremost of which was to defend the rights of the powerless against a powerful few.

Chosen to serve as barangay captain in 1978 and reelected in 1981, Dapog was disturbed by the human rights violations occurring in his community and in the nearby barrios. Villagers were being detained and tortured, even worse, summarily executed by the military, on mere suspicion of being opposed to the dictatorial regime and siding with the rebel guerrillas. He spoke openly against these abuses.

He helped organize a rally on February 1, 1981 to protest the highly intensified militarization of his province. Soldiers opened fire on the marchers, killing two farmers and wounding scores of others. The incident came to be called the Guinayangan massacre.

Still, Dapog continued to defend the people’s rights. Twice in 1984, he hosted a factfinding mission of the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, organized to document the continuing abuses. In preparation for their arrival, the barangay captain went around, encouraging people to overcome their fear and to tell the truth.

Dapog was one of the signatories to a resolution asking the Batasang Pambansa, the martial law parliament, to investigate the widespread abuses and violations of human rights in Quezon. Many other barangay leaders in the province remained silent, fearing for their lives.

Only death stopped Dapog. In the early afternoon of July 6, 1985, he boarded a passenger bus on the way to Los Baños, Laguna, to speak at a protest rally. In Gumaca, just after Guinayangan, three armed men, wearing face masks, stopped the vehicle and forced Dapog to go with them. Moments later, gunshots were heard. Dapog was later found dead with wounds in his forehead, neck and chest.

The body was brought to the municipal hall of Guinayangan, and a memorial mass said in his honor. Thousands from all over Quezon came to pay their respects during the four-day wake that followed. People crammed the municipal hall and overflowed into the streets, mourning for this leader who spoke for them, gave them his life, and died for them.

MV Cassandra and the Good Shepherd Sisters



(The photo above is from the November 26, 1983 issue of Times Journal. The following text is an excerpt from an RGS article. Accompanying the four sisters at MV Cassandra was another Bantayog Martyr: Innoncencio "Boy" Ipong.)

Shepherding has taken many forms in the history of the Good Shepherd Sisters. In the Philippines, on November 21, 1983, it was shepherding in a shipwreck. Sisters Mary Consuelo Chuidian, Concepcion Conti, Virginia Gonzaga, and Catherine Loreto were on board the M/V Doña Cassandra when it sank in shark-infested waters off the coast of Northeastern Mindanao, Philippines. Survivors told of the four Sisters praying, distributing life vests, helping children put theirs on, instructing other passengers to hasten towards the life rafts and to be ready to abandon ship, not calculating how little time they had to save themselves – until time did run out.

Sister Mary Consuelo Chuidian, 46, born in Manila, a religious of 20 years, Superior of the Davao Community, had volunteered to document the first case of hamletting, Vietnam-style, in Laac, Davao del Norte. She chaired the Women’s Alliance for True Change, was coordinator of the Rural Missionaries for Southern Mindanao, and was active in the associations of women religious in Davao and Mindanao. Her leadership inspired her community to be open to victims of every kind, especially those of Martial Law.

Sister Mary Concepcion Conti, 46, born in Bauan, Batangas, a religious of 18 years, member of the Davao Community, had organized and headed the Community-Based Health Program in the Diocese of Tagum. She sought to train rural health workers, thus empowering them to attend to the basic health needs of the poor. She was an exceptional teacher and learner who brought her skills to her Mindanao mission.

Sister Mary Virginia Gonzaga, 42, born in Bacolod City, a religious of 9 years, Superior of the Sapad Community in Lanao del Norte. She had organized the Young Christian Workers in her home city and later, as a religious, worked among slum dwellers and migrant workers before she went to the Sapad mission among Christians and Muslims.

Sister Mary Catherine Loreto, 39, born in Pasig, Rizal, a religious of 8 years, member of the Davao Community, at the time of her death was coordinator of Task Force Detainees in her area. Hers was the most difficult challenge of standing up for those harassed by the military and their families, with the risk of herself falling under suspicion.

The four Sisters were honored by Bantayog ng Mga Bayani Foundation at its annual celebration of martyrs and heroes. In inscribing their names on the Wall of Remembrance, 7 December 1999, the citation read:
For contributing to the protest movement against the Marcos dictatorship and human rights abuses, as street parliamentarians and religious superiors heading and implementing education, health, rehabilitation and justice programs, both through legal and extra-legal means;

For leaving the safety and comfort of home and convent to work as rural missionaries among poor farmers, indigenous peoples and Muslims in remote areas of Mindanao, thus becoming active witnesses to the Church’s mission to serve the poor, deprived and oppressed at the height of state repression of the Church;

For putting their individual talents at the service of country and people.

CONTI, Mary Concepcion Lourdes

conti

Lourdes Conti was born in Batangas and studied there at the St. Bridget's School, run by the Religious of the Good Shepherd (RGS). In 1973 she joined the Good Shepherd sisters herself, taking the name Sister Mary Concepcion by which she was to become well known and respected as a teacher, missionary and development worker.

“Sister Cons” was one of three nuns sent to Agusan in Mindanao in 1978 to start an RGS community in Agusan. The sisters settled in a town along the river, living with a local family because they did not have their own convent. The place was remote, food was scarce, and transportation difficult. To move around, the women hitched rides on logging trucks, tractors, bulldozers.

They put up a school for the children of the Banwaon Manobo who lived in the area. Logging companies had operated there for years, making the people work for low wages and leaving their natural environment in ruins.

It was Conti’s first assignment out of Luzon. She did not speak Bisaya, the common language in Mindanao, but she adjusted easily to the hard life there because “I have made a vow of poverty and I want to live a simple life.”

In 1980, when Conti was transferred to the RGS community in Davao, she organized and headed the Community-Based Health Program (CBHP) in the diocese of Tagum.

CBHP pioneered a holistic approach to health in the rural areas by helping community members to understand the sociopolitical and economic factors which contributed to their poor health and poverty. It sought to empower the local people by developing health workers from among themselves. Thus, apart from attending to health concerns needing attention, the CBHP program also raised social awareness through training and education seminars.

Because of this, CBHP staffers were regarded with suspicion by the military. Anyone caught with acupuncture needles (used in a common mode of treatment offered under the program) was likely to be detained or interrogated. The risks did not discourage Sister Cons: she continued visiting the barrios and holding seminars for barrio people.

Community health workers found her a great source of comfort. They noted her smile and her willingness to do menial tasks. Her previous teaching experience was a big help and they were able to expand the health program to most parishes in the diocese.

Sr. Mary Concepcion Conti died in 1983 with three other RGS sisters on their way to a meeting in Cebu when their ship, the MV Cassandra, sank. Survivors said the nuns were among those who helped in the evacuation of the passengers, especially the children, disregarding the need to save their own lives.

CONCEPCION, Roberto R.

concepcion

Chief Justice Roberto Concepcion is remembered as one of those who refused to legitimize one-man rule by Ferdinand Marcos. His was the heavy burden of seeking to preserve the Supreme Court’s independence from the dictator’s attempts to control it.

He was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court when martial law was declared by Marcos in September 1972, and when, shortly afterward, a Constitution tailor-made for his illegal rule was promulgated and “ratified” by a “show of hands” in so-called people’s assemblies.

Though it was Marcos himself who had appointed him (in 1966) to head the highest court of the land, Concepcion denounced the imposition of martial law, and asked his fellow justices to declare the proclamation of the 1973 Constitution as null and void. However, the majority of the justices chose not to side with him: the final decision held that although there were “flaws” in its ratification, there was “no judicial obstacle to the [Marcos] Constitution being considered in force and in effect.”

The court’s resolution on the issue became final on March 30, 1973. One week after, on April 8, 1973, Concepcion resigned – one month and 10 days ahead of the date when he would have been compulsorily retired. He was delivering a message to a regime that was not listening.

After leaving the Court, Concepcion continued to express his commitment to the rule of law by supporting human rights causes through legal assistance to the poor. He also continued to teach.

With the downfall of the dictatorship in 1986, he was appointed to serve as a member of the Constitutional Commission that drafted the 1987 Constitution. He made significant contributions toward reforms in the judiciary, and most notably, he is credited with providing safeguards against a recurrence of Marcos-style dictatorship.

Throughout his 40-year service in the judiciary, Roberto Concepcion was consistent in his defense and advocacy of civil liberties, the rights of the accused, nationalist policies and legislation. He showed exemplary conduct in upholding ethical standards in his personal and public life.

Born in Quiapo, Manila, Concepcion learned the value of hard work and discipline from his parents (his father owned a small business). He graduated summa cum laude from University of Sto. Tomas law school in 1924 and topped the bar examinations in 1924. He first entered government service in 1929 as an assistant attorney in the Bureau of Justice, rising through the ranks until he was appointed to the Supreme Court as associate justice in 1954.

He died in 1987 at age 83, still involved in the task of helping craft a new charter for the nation.

prev 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170 180 190 200 210 220 230 240 250 260 270 280 290 300 310 320 330 340 350 360 370 380 390 400 410 420 430 440 450 460 470 480 490 500 510 520 530 540 550 560 next