Rights victims in Mindanao see hope for justice in Robredo | Inquirer News

Rights victims in Mindanao see hope for justice in Robredo

/ 09:48 AM March 18, 2022
Rights victims in Mindanao see hope for justice in Robredo

Vice President Leni Robredo–(VP Leni Media Bureau)

ISABELA CITY——As the crowd began to swell on Wednesday (March 16) for the rally here of Vice President Leni Robredo, a couple in their 80s braved the drizzle so they can position near the stage for a good view of the candidates they are rooting for in the May 9 elections.

Feliciano Raga, 85, a retired agriculturist, and his wife Rosita, 80, said they did not mind the difficulty of walking as long as they got counted for Robredo.

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“I was a victim of martial law,” said Raga, a native of Cebu who relocated to Basilan where he met his wife. “I don’t want our youth today to suffer what we did before,” he said.

Abuses of martial law, according to Raga, hounded him all his life.

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Robredo’s recent sorties in the Bangsamoro areas drew human rights victims during the dictatorship to voice hope that a Robredo presidency would help in their quest for justice.

In the rally in Cotabato City on Wednesday morning, a small group of aging rights victims, carrying their baggage of the past, joined the crowd of mostly youth who perceive Robredo as bearer of the country’s bright future.

‘Massacred’

Owing to their long quest for self-governance, which spawned some four decades of rebellion by two revolutionary organizations, the Moro people had suffered strings of abuses by state forces, the most sensational of which was the so-called Jabidah massacre on March 18, 1968, or 54 years ago.

The incident became the rallying cry for the Moro revolution and is now observed in the region as Bangsamoro Day in accordance with Muslim Mindanao Autonomy Act No. 67.

In the course of quelling the rebellion, Moro communities became targets of attacks which, in several instances, led to massacre of civilians in Lanao, Cotabato and Sulu.

Recognizing the importance of addressing these issues of the past, Robredo, in her meeting with Bangsamoro leaders on Wednesday, said that if elected president, she will work “to achieve the long-sought justice as I believe that it’s only when justice is served that peace will prevail.”

At a forum on Wednesday sponsored by International Alert and the Institute for Autonomy and Governance, senatorial aspirant Teddy Baguilat, who represented Robredo, said her presidency will ensure the rollout of transitional justice and reconciliation initiatives to address lingering issues that today help underpin violent extremism in the region.

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“The dictatorship is a dark chapter especially for us Moros. Many were killed and made to suffer. We were massacred. We were forced to take up arms in the name of justice. We had to leave our homes,” Basilan Rep. Mujiv Hataman said.

Thwart return to power

Hataman, who used to be a human rights activist, warned against and urged people to thwart “a return to power of the family who perpetrated and profited from the repression” during Marcos’ one-man rule.

“Leni Robredo is our best chance to stop this,” he pointed out.

In Kidapawan City on Tuesday, a handful of Moros put out a placard that says Robredo provided hope for the enactment of House Bill No. 7678 which proposes another round of filing for compensation claims by human rights victims during the Marcos regime based on Republic Act No. 10368.

The measure was filed by Makabayan coalition legislators in 2020.

Although the filing of claims ended on May 12, 2018, the authors of the bill noted that many were unable to do so. Human rights groups said many of those unable to file come Moro communities.

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TAGS: 2022 elections, Bangsamoro, human rights abuses, Leni Robredo, Martial law, Moro people, Moro rebellion
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