Escalante massacre remembered: ‘Let’s not commit past mistakes’ | Inquirer News

Escalante massacre remembered: ‘Let’s not commit past mistakes’

By: - Correspondent / @carlagomezINQ
/ 06:56 PM September 20, 2016

BACOLOD CITY—“Let us not have social dementia. Let us not commit the mistakes of the past over and over again.”

This was the message of San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza during his Homily at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church in Escalante City on Tuesday morning, commemorating the massacre of 20 protestors in Escalante City, Negros Occidental, in 1985.


Alminaza extolled the faithful not to forget and allow the repeat of the social ills prevailing 31 years ago during which occurred what was now known as the Escalante massacre.


It was a Thursday mid-afternoon on Sept. 20, 1985, when hundreds of sugar workers, farmers, fisher folk, students, urban poor, professionals and church people staged a protest in Escalante City on the eve of the 13th anniversary of martial law.

They were encircled by some 50 combat-ready paramilitary men, including the Regional Special Action Forces, members of the Civilian Home Defense Force, local policemen, and unidentified armed civilians.

The protestors were hosed down and tear gas was used to disperse them. Paramilitary forces opened fire into the crowd, leaving 20 dead and scores injured.

More than three decades later, the victims of the Escalante massacre and their surviving kin had yet to be indemnified and were still waiting for justice, Alejandro Deoma, Bayan Muna Negros secretary general, said.

They were calling for the indemnification of the kin of the Escalante massacre fatalities and those injured from the recovered $10-billion Marcos wealth, he said.

Alminaza in his homily stressed the need to avoid committing the same mistakes over and over again.


He said the people were protesting widespread poverty, child labor and abuse.

One of them was Rodney Demegilio, 30, who lived in Sagay town. Three of his five children died of malnutrition.

Alminaza said the victims of the massacre were child laborers, farm workers, fisher folk, church workers and orphans from Escalante, Toboso, Sagay and Cadiz.

Among them was 27-year-old Aniano Ornopia, a farmworker who was orphaned at the age of 5. He left behind a 3-month-old daughter.

Another victim was Ceasar Tejones, 24, of Toboso town, who had a 2-year-old son and another on the way. He started working as a farmworker at age 14 to help his family.

Deoma said a reenactment of Escalante Massacre was staged at the city’s public plaza about 1 p.m. on Tuesday.

They were participated in by at least 250 delegates of the ongoing “Tanghal 10: National Community and University Theater Festival” of the national committee on dramatic arts of the National Commission for Culture and the Arts.

The festival was copresented by the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, Sinagbayan, Karatula, TeatroObrero and the National Federation of Sugarcane Workers in partnership with the Escalante City government and the office of Rep. Melecio Yap of the first district of Negros Occidental.

Before the commemoration, a torch parade was held Monday night from Mt. Carmel College to the Escalante City plaza where a concert organized by the Cultural Center of the Philippines showcased Joey Ayala.

Your subscription could not be saved. Please try again.
Your subscription has been successful.

Subscribe to our daily newsletter

By providing an email address. I agree to the Terms of Use and acknowledge that I have read the Privacy Policy.

“This cultural reenactments are good to keep memories alive, a lot of our youth do not know what happened during martial law,” Alminaza said.

TAGS: Gerardo Alminaza, Martial law

© Copyright 1997-2024 | All Rights Reserved

We use cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. By continuing, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. To find out more, please click this link.