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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chapter 12 - Brown Shirt Unleashed

Chapter 12

Brown Shirt Unleashed
     Jojo, his sacristan,  has not been back in the convent since yesterday giving Fr. Driarco insecurity. Leaving Abel, Jojo’s sacristan in the convent, the young priest explored whatever happened.
            “Where has he been?” All he could remember was a permission granted  for a swimming in a river with Roger his classmate nearby. He too did not returned home. Nang Sisa and Nong Celso, Roger’s parents came over and talked the predicament to  the priest but to no avail. They could not trace their whereabouts. They probably went together hunting and might have lost their way back home. But how could they given their familiarity of the forest.  They would soon be back, a concerned parishioner said to appease their travails and woes. One, two, three and four days passed and there were no indications  either of the two let alone their shadows coming back escalating Fr. Driarco’s suspicion of evil might have started renew its round of extinction killing innocent people possibly without a trace.
. . . . . . . . . .

           Checking for himself the bottom line, he took the challenge following Jojo’s route at San Isidro mighty river.
           “If after swimming they proceeded hunting then at least a word was left to him to that effect. But there was none learning too Jojo’s character. Suddenly, the thought that Jojo’s declaration to act as vital witness of Mang Clioneo brutal murder should the case would be revived crossed his mind.”
           “That could be it,” he said scampering for needed direction towards where the innocent ill-fated sacristans might have been washed away or thrown.
           “Possible, remembering how Mayor Torres and his men were throwing those sinister look  last Sunday’s first mass in the chapel. Was his gaze portent of doom that same day seen on his face suggesting harassment hatched against innocent church workers in the parish? Not far-fetched idea considering the unpredictability of the Mayor.”
           “So I erred in my suspicion to them. It’s Jojo actually what they were after not me,” the thought lingering now in his mind.
           With Jojo out, at least the probability of the murder coming out in the open is far remote and thus on his way getting the Catholic priest out from the equation; thus, preserving his political gameplan.
 . . . . . . . . . . .

           The wind was furious creating murmuring sound at San Isidro river. This as onrushing water upstream crashes against rocks downstream creating hard impact water spilling out splashing into the air.  Fr. Driarco alighted from an assembled renegade jeep by his lonesome self to check whatever mystery there is hounding his parish.
           “If he was drowned to death he should be somewhere now tossed to and fro by big waves floating in the sea as the river passes by  through tributary before emptying its way out to the sea. But so far, no single fisherman informed him of such incident in the convent,” he mused but apprehensive.
           “He must be somewhere ,” he uttered surveying the panoramic view of the river, dubbed as one of the cleanest in the Region revealed lately from  result of Provincial Evaluation Team.
 From afar in the middle of the river was a solid bamboo post protruding invited his curiosity. It’s no ordinary post. Tied to its tip was a white handkerchief as if beckoning him to come and take hold of it. Swimming across the channel midway the river he struggled fighting the strong current towards the post.
           “Jojo must  just be somewhere within the perimeter of the river,” he said breathing and having seen his green Taxco sandals lying on the ground. Getting hold of the post, he all the way reached the white handkerchief. And lo and alas the cryptic words ‘You’re next!’ sending goosebumps meets  his eyes. Taking the cue, he swam deeper below the base of the  post. And lo, the dead body of Jojo dangling from a wire his neck tied to the post; and two huge rocks tied to his two feet his chest bearing two gunshots wounding essential and vital  organs fatally ending his dear life.  Another heinous crime against an ordinary church worker in Esperanza.
. . . . . . . . . . . .

           “Run!” Roger recanted later how Jojo advised him to leave him from their abductors to save himself.
           “They wore bonnets, medium built armed with two pistols with silencer.” That’s the way they  killed innocent  Jojo crying for help, Fr. Driarco learned later. What a metaphor and an application to his homily last Sunday.
           “It’s all what he could managed during that incident,” Roger  revealed leaving Jojo unperturbed alone with their abductors he could not entirely identify as darkness started engulfing them that night.
           Mayor Torres’ men hit him on the arm but it did not dampen his resolve seeking cover saving his life even blood was profusely gushing out freely from his arm.
           “He collapsed into my arms arriving here,” The parents Lando and Sisa told the young priest.
Asked whether he would go down back to serve him in the convent, Roger was speechless. Fr. Driarco didn’t mind not forcing the issue but he is welcome all the time. Maybe not for now given the tension the incident creates. But Roger revealed his take.
           “The Mayor and his men are still there. They are after my neck  too having failed once. I know they would be coming back. That’s I’m sure.”
           “ But some other time maybe. I’ll just let you know when I’m ready.”
           “ You’d be the first person to know anyway ‘cause if you don’t mind I’d like you taking over Jojo’s place in the convent. Besides I know I would be relatively safer there,” Roger declared bothering Fr. Driarco.
            “Welcome and be my guest,” he answered wryly nonetheless.
           “How could it be safer when Jojo was dead in most weird manner yet,” the young priest thought apparently more bothered ever  more than before.
. . . . . . . . . . .

           Days, weeks, month passed nothing happened on the case of Jojo. The longer the days passed, the longer and deafening the silence. But not to Driarco in the convent. The longer the days passed the harder his suffering. Each night seems to be almost sleepless and longest night for the young Catholic priest. It’s been many years since his father’s unsolved murder happened. Now Jojo was added on the list. Roger was almost. The list goes on ad infinitum. Their sordid fate keep playing on his mind requesting familiar plea seeking justice.
           Meanwhile, unsolved cold blooded murder has saturated practically all over Marble county. Mostly of those liquidated were leaders of the community. This was not surprising as non-government organizations have been established everywhere to protect the environment incidentally blessed with natural resources – eco tourism industry notably in Sibuyan Romblon, one of its kind in Asia given the prestine waters springing from the bosom of mother earth; there’s also Mt. Guitinguiting, the favorite trek of mountain climbers; cleanest, orderly and safest Sibale beach. Of course, there is marble industry, a feast for every visitors coming to the province.
           It’s weird but dead bodies are dumped just as everywhere from the cliff, along the road and just anywhere else each bearing a hole on their heads!
           To aggravate the situation, Danny who had been very critical in the municipal council forum did not complete his second term in office. The death threat he received from his implacable assailing the Mayor was served albeit not completed. Good he survived from an assassination attempt so he could still tell the world how ruthless their town Mayor is. But not when in unsolicited incident happened in cockfight arena.
            “If by giving my life for the people is the demand of those who were around him, so be it,” Fr. Driarco now remembered Dante revealing it. This third event finally got him however.
            True enough, Danny got what he wanted. The issue revolved around the brutal killing of Nong Cervantes felled inside a cockpit arena by one of Mayor Torres’ policeman. The incident was very fast that before he could demand the payment from the policeman having won the cockfight, his body was  felled down from a gunshot right on his forehead. People around were running berserk for cover during the incident.  Danny at that time was there. Nobody dared to act as witness. He did only to get hit too from the same assailant which caused later his untimely death..
           “I was there and saw the ruthless policeman pumping the bullet on the old man’s forehead dropping to the ground dead,” he remembered  a bystander retelling the gory murder of his younger brother.
           And indeed it proved his last work acting witness the incident in court, ending also his own life. Since then, no one challenged the Mayor and or his men in court for fear that their bodies could only become additional fertilizers of the mother earth.
           “If they could do it to a public servant how much more to a lowly blameless mere common tao,” Fr. Driarco would hear people griping. Unknown though to all people in the municipality. The cold blooded murder of Danny in a cockpit arena was a valid excuse for the Mayor through his police gun man wiping out any pretenders to the throne.
. . . . . . . . . . .

           Victoria’s death was another sorry incident  giving bigger blow to Fr. Driarco and his family. This time the suspects were the most likely – the National Peoples’ Army or the NPA belonging to other side of  political spectrum. She was a resident nurse at Roxas, Oriental Mindoro and all the while was planning to stay for good. Her’s was definitely a work of love having decided to just serve instead the local settlers abandoning her original desire of going abroad. In truth though, the lovestruck she got from an engineer changed everything her mind. Twist of event however unable her to see her only daughter grows up when she was killed in an ambush wrongly staged by the NPAs. It was indeed very costly mistake committed by the rebels.
           Story has it that Victoria was in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro that time getting the December bonus and buying Christmas items for her officemates and family at Roxas City. While in the terminal, their ambulance took her for a ride she readily consented to be with other employees going home. That day the provincial commanders had their important conference there. Monitored by the reds and mistakenly thought to have  rode that ambulance back to their base in Roxas, Oriental Mindoro, they staged an ambush along the way somewhere. Unfortunately, the second group of rebels on alert did not received the radio message of the first group intending to give clearance for the ill-fated ambulance to pass through And there in a junction many kilometers before the destination, hail of bullets rained the vehicle killing first the driver and the rest. Among those killed instantly was Victoria.
           “Sorry po mam’” the rebels even asked an apology realizing their mistake later to one survivor.
           “You assholes! Why do you have to implicate us ordinary tax paying civilians in your war against the military,” said Victoria’s co-passenger writhing in pain blood dropping to the ground from her shoulder.
           “The rebels did acknowledged their mistakes even offered financial help to me. But I was not still dispose talking that time. It was Christmas,”  Rigor, Victoria’s husband  said bitterly.
           Victoria was gone leaving Donna  under his care behind, a double whammy indeed to the young widowed husband.
. . . . . . . . . .

           Looking on his wall clock, it was now daybreak exactly one o’clock in the morning. Surprisingly, Abel, one of his trusted sacristan called his name downstairs saying that two visitors are on emergency wanting very badly his services  officiating holy unction of a dying patient, an invitation any priest would always offer.  Soon Baldo and Bobo opened fire against what seem to be figure of the young Catholic priest as he went out from his study room to the balcony. The bullets were swift felling down the priest’s body. Alas to their surprise however it was  Driarco’s dummy all they got.
           “Good grief boys. You’re finally hooked,” uttered Fr. Driarco hitting both once on their chest. ‘Golden rule’ was the last words the two assassins heard from the priest before they passed out.
Save for the muted sounds emitted by his .38 Magnum pistol with silencer nothing was ever heard inside the convent.
           Esperanza for the first time has become restless jolted by the death of Mayor’s men. But it was hard  solving the case there being no willing  witnesses to give material evidence. How would a hearing be credible when the incident happened in the convent that ungodly hour yet! Who could have done it presenting the surrounding material evidence and circumstances. With the loss of  ruthless Mayor’s men, hostility is farther on the rise  the score now closer to even but the momentum obviously shifted to the Catholic priest. The Mayor is now reeling how to handle the pressure.
. . . . . . . . . .

           Saying the mass the following morning, Fr. Driarco noticed the absence of the Mayor. Roger, a replacement of Abel who was not heard of since last night  served as head sacristan.
           “ Something wrong must have happened to the special parishioner,” he thought.
           At San Isidro river, a fisherman inadvertently fished out two more bodies frozen their eyes almost gorged out dangling from their sockets. Must have been feasted by catfish as their bodies were  beyond recognition as if left-over by crocodiles. They were the remains of Bobo and Baldo. 
Hearing the bad news that morning, made the Honorable Mayor sick and disoriented realizing that his men were dead one after the other.  
           “Who could have done this? The priest? No. He was right in the convent all night long and was still in the church saying the mass the following morning,” he learned. The war of nerve is on.
Romero, the fisherman who fished out the dead bodies from his fishing net, was the early visitor of the Mayor that morning handing over a small cartoon wrapped in a plastic bag. Opening it revealed a dead skinned American frog with jumbo bold Pentel pen message written ‘You’re next!’
. . . . . . . . . . .

           Driarco making use of time tried squeezing his creative juice writing a poem.

O how fast the days were
seems like vanishing comet
flying in the thin air
Where have all the birds gone?
Why all their nests fell into the ground.
When all restlessness cease?
among my people He said ‘little ones’
Look what happened to this once sleepy town
You shattered it  into bits and pieces
causing severe pain to each one.
Where have all our people’s moneys gone
Must our people bear the brunt
When do we allow lasting peace reign?
While there’s still time or we ourselves gone.
Dry your teary eyes Esperanza
Sun in the horizon will  still  shine
Momentarily take care of abandoned children
Use school if need be as temporary dwelling.
How many more lives should we offer?
To this senseless war of one nation, color and race
How many more father and mother would in pain anguished?
Friends answered them. Isn’t  it  you too is my brother’s keeper.

           It was a good break from harrowing experience lately he had in town. The poem was couched in simple language.
           “I’m sure even layman would understand it,” he kept repeating himself  reviewing the cadence and music of his Obra.
            “Never mind the lines, the message you’re driving across  is important and what counts.”
. . . . . . . . . .

           Meanwhile, three separate knock on his door caught him by surprise.
           “Good day father. Three policemen are around bringing warrant of arrest issued by Judge Silva of RTC. They will tender it for your arrest,” Roger uttered.
           “Killing whom?,” Fr. Driarco explored.
           “What the nerve this guy has after putting him in fix the other night!” the young Catholic priest said  to himself.
           “Clearly revealing his true identity then. But what the role he is playing as it seems he is playing his own game!”  he thought.
           “Abel! He was found dead today his body dumped  in a roadside with a single shot inflicted on his head  . . . . .”
            Must have been murdered last night.” The Chief of Police said.
           The benefits of doubt swings this time to Fr. Driarco. The poor priest was simply  speechless!
. . . . . . . . . . .

Chapter 11 - New Parish Assignment

Chapter 11
New Parish Assignment

     "How fast time indeed flies,” Fr. Driarco realized as he embarked on his new assignment as parish priest.
          “Way to go. We don’t  have any control where  our calling would bring us. Obedience is the key,” he learned convinced recalling various posts after missionary work from Taiwan.
          “What a better way of returning back the compliment to people who earlier helped and sent you in the Seminary,” the thought playing in his mind.
. . . . . . . . . . .

           Parish of St. John the Baptist of Esperanza is  actually his third assignment in a row. Like all other priests, living with the people in each parish is  actually just a one big family, warm, delightful and full of life. People are too accommodating in fact that he would always exercise prudence not to be swayed away attached into their private lives.
          “Don’t touch livewire, they would electrocute you to death in the end,” he would recall the good Bishop of Romblon advising him.
          “The priests of the Church should all be above reproach. You cannot serve both God and mammon. Remember you are the Word made flesh, a living witness of His glory if you wish. Practice what you preach,” he reminisced the wisdom from the good Bishop.
          “Turn right and travel straightway onwards. That’s the road towards heaven,” he would in turn admonish any of his beleaguered parishioner coming seeking for his advice in the convent.
There’s really no other alternative left. The choice is yours. Either you work or not work for it. One thing though is sure. The prize is worth a thousand times more than the effort. Where the heart is willing it will find thousand means; but where the heart is unwilling, it will find not just thousand but millions of excuses, he would add recalling that didactic maxim of the past.
          “Dealing with people is probably easier said than done. What if the Mayor wants to abuse and charge you against the wall?” Most unlikely, being the prince of peace in the area. But what if he would do it to any of his parishioners. That’s where the real trouble lies. Fr. Driarco himself would not give damn who they are. His records from two other parishes would show. In fact, he doesn’t mind being re-shuffled again to any other parishes. He’s not the one easily bullied and intimidated.
          “If I don’t stand up and protect my people, then I don’t have any business either to be in this kind of work.”
          “Never mind, if misunderstood as long as you’re doing your work. That’s your job. Christ did. Even coming face to face with the Devil later asking Him to surrender. But no. He just can’t. His work tells Him not to. He’s serving His Father not Satan.”
          “No compromise with devil. That’s what Christ did,” he would challenge himself.
          True to his knowledge, if ever there is one person uncomfortable with Driarco in the parish it is no other than the Mayor himself. By all means, Driarco represents great barrier to promising career in the province of the ruthless politician.
          “The mayor’s political ambition should not be allowed to go on unabated. The more he’s staying  in the office, the longer the impunity he gives;  the stronger he holds on to his power, the greater the suffering of the people, killing innocent taxpayers and opponents and milking government coffers clean and dry,” the young priest thought.
          “His hunger for power should be stopped,” he would add.
          “But how?” Now that he has bloated his resources through various expansion of  business empire in the province. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. True, but probably after justice has been served to his father’s death. When? I have to see yet the dawn of day rising in this parish. The Lord knows ‘when?’ By then reconciliation would be coming in the end, he thought was  proper clincher.
As parish priest, he has been preoccupied dispensing the seven sacraments. In between, he would always find time visiting the sick in the hospital saying mass, hearing confession and to those who are in dire need, extends extreme unction. He would also visit the prison and do the same providing the necessary lift from following up their long delayed cases to organizing them into viable group for economic development.
          Dishing out fiery homily lately still stick in his mind.  Probably because of the hangover he still has on the fate of his late father whose spirit now coming alive with his work as new parish priest of the municipality. Sometimes dishing out sermons has been mechanical to Fr. Driarco precisely he balanced what he preaches from what he works.
“Homily is good but working out what you say is better. Walk your talk in other words. However, practicing or living what you preach is the best,” he was awakened  facing the reality.
Evening mostly find Fr. Driarco glued on his Remington 150 typewriter completing his synthesis of his first three years work as a parish priest.
          “It’s better putting ideas into print. It’s the safest way  preserving incisive ideas for the church today,” so thought Driarco thinking of the vast experiences he has on the parish dragging him almost to issues beyond his duty unsolicited. Ironically, that which he could not easily get rid from.
          Fortunately, the more challenge he meets, the more his sagging spirit buoys up. “Taklin was right. Priesthood is really the start of the road towards Calvary,” he recalled his good friend back then.  How an ordinary priest could manage slipping away from the abuses perpetuated against his flock is up to his ingenuity. Who could help him anyway when charged against the wall if not the same people he served! The list is long. And so if he would take the cudgel for and behalf of his people, what would they say. Who shall set them free?
          “Did Christ not command His priests to liberate them from all forms of bondage of sin,” he would say defending their cause.
          “Let those who have no sin be the first to throw stones against us” which could probably be translated ‘those who are criticizing us should be the first to eat their own words.’
          “It’s not our making to be hyphenated-priests. The people are. They just can’t go to the police, the Mayor and other officials of the community they perceived us part of that big family they could easily confide their problems without fear.”
          “Subsequently, spilling of beans and skeletons of their closets to the community are revealed. And what if the Mayor and his henchmen continue wrecking havoc against the people of the community does it?”
          Such has been the case of five priests murdered one after the other unceremoniously. Thus, the names of Frs. Malig, Rutas, Lagila, Novala and Maknil and countless others follow.
          Fr. Malig run counter against a powerful Petrofil multi-company; Fr. Rutas against illegal logging syndicate notably politician and military; Fr. Lagila, against a Mayor who raped an innocent parishioner and Fr. Novala, against an abusive military officer who manhandled and in the end, killing innocent suspects; Fr. Maknil, against local official fabricating their own witnesses, including no less than his sacristan, charging him of masterminding an ambush staged against  Mayor in broad daylight yet. Adding the long lists Driarco could recall was Fr. Buenaflor, murdered by lone hired assassin killing him instantly point-blank hitting his temple while riding a motorcycle. His only sin – joining Sta. Isabel workers’ rally lobbying for additional compensation and other benefits the construction firm accrues them. Effective fertilizers of the earth, what the culprit and Mayor Torres might account for their effort.
          These are what so far Fr. Driarco learned of the barbarity of the Mayor excluding those who have been forgotten let alone their cause buried with them into the grave. They too exclude score others of laymen, pastor and other ordinary church workers mysteriously vanished leaving without any  imprint to trace. Add the list of those silent voices killed before they could even speak out issues on their minds – the farmers, student leaders, labor union leaders, teachers and students ordinary mortals like housewives and fishermen and many others which run by thousands. Altogether, their voices had not been stifled would have registered hundred of decibels that could have destroyed Marcos’ and his twelve Martial Law apostles’ eardrum. Sad to say the strength of the monster was stronger than anybody else. It is unfortunate indeed, so said a well-read national daily that they vanished like balloons into the thin air.
          Such was one picture painting grim scenario of the Apo Lakay’s baby. Everything was possible under the merciless sun whoever and wherever you are. It’s was just again the question of time and timing.  These restless souls incidentally have been roaming around requesting just due them. Parents, friends and other concerned citizens lately called for due process of law after filing a class suit against the Marcoses but whether their cause would be heard is yet to be seen.
. . . . . . . . . . .

          “Where have all the flowers gone, long time passing,” Fr. Driarco would hum breaking the ice of his reflection on the fate of thousand of casualties.
          “When would they ever learn, when would they ever learn,” he sang with Mayor Torres in his mind. Indeed when? While there is still time to do or when he himself become and additional fertilizer anew to the ground.
. . . . . . . . . . . .

          Meanwhile, the Mayor and his cohorts have been busy consolidating their forces anew for possible ticket in Marcos Kilusang Bagong Lipunan as its standard bearer of the province governorship office. No guts, no glory, he would justify changing  to high gear in his political career. No fear would probably his new catchword. His bank book incidentally would reveal how much his worth these days giving him great chance of pulling out another victory in the forthcoming election. How could he possibly win anyway if he has no means. 
          “Money, money and money,” that’s what all the people needs during election, he would brag to his quarters.

. . . . . . . . . . .

          “So he’s finally back,” said the Mayor to Baldo.
          “Wanting maybe to follow his father’s graveyard Boss.”
          “By all means, if he intends to cross our path.”
          “By all indication, it seems he does.”
          “Then, it would the end of the road for him. God bless Him.”
          “And may He rest in peace, his soul whiter than snow.”
Thus said the Mayor to Baldo wanting to wipe out the remnants of Mang Clineo from the face of Esperanza’s political landscape. Theirs’ was the swiftest sorties establishing a plot how to add Driarco on their list of target.
          “Some people are just meant to be used,” the Mayor thought his laughter reverberated within the four walls of his private room.
          As usual, Esperanza has leapfrogged into  busiest  first class municipality  teeming with trade, commerce and industry. It could be  one of the best cover maybe of the dreaded incident paving the way for an election few months more. The general public might maybe forget the miserable and bloodiest event in their municipality with them left in the dark the real incident but not for Driarco, Danny, Jojo, the Mayor and his henchmen knowing how the death was delivered clean.
          Jojo, the star-witness of the incident has been back in the municipality. He joins his former friend now his boss in the parish doing house chores for the priest and giving assistance during celebration of holy masses. When would be the time of reckoning, Jojo is yet to know. As vital instrument for peace of the municipality, he is more than willing to come out in the open to speak out the truth in Court. But the good priest weighing all possibilities decided not to settle it in court for the meantime.
          “You know what? When you complain an issue out of goat in a Court you would end up arguing about a cow. We are better judges in other words than those in any RTC Sala controlled by the Mayor,” the priest said stunning Jojo.
          “Besides, if you don’t have the means, better not elevate any issue in Court. The more it would be at your disadvantage,” Fr. Driarco continued impressing upon his good friend and sacristan how to handle their cause.
          “Crime does not pay. The Mayor is just like any other mortals. He’s not clothed with invincibility. He will have his day full later.”
          Digressing from the topic.
          “Wonder if you ever heard of an Indian philosophy Karma,”
          “Nope,” Jojo answered.
          “Golden rule,”
          “Then, it’s all similar save that karma transcends the boundary of mutual concern down to our earliest roots.”
          “Mang Clineo, you mean a victim of karma.”
          “Not sure. Maybe his father’s great grandfather exacted blood from somebody else.”
          “And bingo, Mang Clioneo’s blood was taken as repayment in return.”
          “As sacrifice. But I’d like to go beyond that concept of karma.”
          “What it is?”
          “Love what  else. You get me - love.”
          “But some are not really that lovable.”
          “Then you don’t have any other alternative left than to accept them what they are.”
          “Like the good Mayor.”
          “He’s beyond acceptance,” Fr. Driarco twisted the issue.
          “Should be hated more instead.”
          “Maybe yes because he is abusing the word ‘love’.”
          Jojo acceded. When you kill people, rob them blind, abuse their innocence and all that degrading his personality, you don’t deserved to be loved.
          “Precisely, we have the constitution to safeguard Juan’s liberty, security and all other basic rights without which man’s existence is incomplete,” he learned.
          Not all day is that rosy to Fr. Driarco. Once he contacted the dreaded malaria and all the while was thinking that it would postpone forever his birthday while recuperating in a provincial hospital. He looks as zombie later coming out from the hospital after that dreaded disease drained him of his vitality.
          “Thanks to my good appetite allowing my fast recovery,” he would declare to himself.
. . . . . . . . . . .

          Sleeping one night in the convent, he dreamed of charging the Mayor with a Batangas knife slashing the Mayor’s belly the intestines protruding dangling out from the politician’s breadbasket blood spurting out into the ground driving the poor politicians crazy begging for dear life. But before he could thrust the fatal blow, Jojo woke him up.
          “Sorry father but I have to wake you up because you just shouted your decibel too strong in one’s ear.”
           He was panting catching his deep bated breath waking up from what seemingly a nightmare. Standing on his own feet, he wonders how he could possibly go that far. Falling on his knees, he prayed fervently before an altar invoking enough strength not to fall into temptation taking the law on his own hands. But the more he struggles for enlightenment, the more he was drawn into the commission of crime losing completely himself his grip of reality disoriented.  It’s only after fixing his eyes on the innocent face of Mother Mary did he recovered his composure.
          “You got the choice,” the Blessed Mother seems to be saying.
          “Christ has suffered that much for our sins. Please don’t add more suffering to Him, “ her words echoing  as he gazed the crucifix atop an altar.
          “Must be dreaming again,” he said deciphering the message he got.
          “Was the Blessed Virgin telling it to the Mayor through me?”
          “Or is she simply giving the message leaving him to read between the lines taking them at face value.”
           Looking back again at the altar in his room, his eyes happened to glanced at the little receptacle securely encasing the cylindrical bottle its tip pointed about five inches tall. It resembles the needle Mary Magdalene used during the ministry of Jesus. But how it looks deadly sans the leather jacket among Tibetan needle appears more deadly and menacing. No wonder it was considered a secret weapon among Tibetans back then.   As if in a trance, the needle in a small glass container webs magic beckoning him to free itself out from its receptacle. The urge to open it was there and  simply irresistible. 
          “Why not?” taking the small bottle containing his rare find and have it poked gradually getting closer into his eyes. As if hypnotized, he took it out and freeze both its  end between his middle finger and thumb.
          “So you want to go back to your owner,” he whispered as if in a trance possessed by irresistible force under Satanic spell answering that inkblot of family history calling cv  vengeance. It was only after putting it back in the bottle when he somehow recovers peace and sanity. From there, he was wide awake till daybreak probably making the devil advocate happy that moment imbuing the innocent priest sense of revenge.
          Before he knew it, the cock crows auguring another brand new day. Soon the bell tolls merrily inviting the parishioners for a celebration of another Holy Eucharist. Surprisingly, the Mayor was there among early church goers occupying the first pew yet. With him were Baldo, Bobo and the rest of his men. From the altar, Fr. Driarco alerted by the suspicious presence of the mayor and henchmen, didn’t take any chances. He had his mind focused occasionally on the group; his eyes on the bible on the table. Underneath is another bible. Inside this bible is a .38 Magnum caliber safely encased in its customized what looked like bible pages ripped away in the middle.
          “Careful. This should not be taken for granted as man is still the best resource on earth. What good do economic resources bring, if the goal of this resources are taken out from the equation?” The young priest cleared.
          “At least I could make it even when time comes. Protection by oneself? God understands this!” he quipped as the liturgy of the word continued.
          Nothing happened after the final benediction was said.
. . . . . . . . . . . .

Chapters 10 - Opening Salvo

Chapter 10
Opening Salvo
     Events happened too quickly after the imposition of Martial Law in the country. The so-called ABC of Martial Law coined by Rueben Canoy in his Counterfeit Revolution, an acronym for Camps Aguinaldo, Bicutan and Crame were all filled to the rafters by those who were identified earlier in the hit list. Like a bull came rushing for the big kill against a matador, Martial law paved the way for the arrest for those earlier identified in the order of battle among the opposition. Thus, the first wave of arrest included Ninoy Aquino, Salonga, TaƱada, Pimentel, Diokno and countless faceless individuals who were herded in Rehabilitation centers like drug addicts and criminals. Similar incidents happened in the provinces sending unfortunate souls into the stockades. Those who managed to slip away from the dragnet set by the Brown Shirts found in their solace and protection in the hills and mountains increasing to maximum the number of insurgents.
        “Where else would these hapless people go than to secure their lives to safety from the collective strength of the people up in the hinterlands?”
 President Marcos might have been shortsighted on this. But he was the direct source of such mass exodus of peasants, student leaders and ordinary citizens to the hills. In fact, he was aid to have recruited the highest number of NPAs.
        You cannot right a wrong approach with another wrong approach or solution in other words as Horace might view it.
        Those who have good connections with better-off families and were anticipating their fate under Marcos used the backdoor and went in haste to United States and other countries for safety. Undaunted by the sweeping detention and threats to their lives, these men with uncompromising virtues hold on their last breath and muster enough courage fighting back Marcos through the use of print media. Documenting human rights violations and evil of Martial Law, these young men published in the international dailies Martial sad stories drawing sympathy and financial resources helpful in handling Marcos’ downfall later. One such valiant group was Ninoy Aquino Movement based in US headed by Sonny Alvarez who became senator later. This group was credited in documenting the ill-gotten wealth amassed by Marcos while in office. Its brave expose’ would later win a Pulitzer Prize for San Jose Mercury News in California.
        The succeeding arrests of people alleged as either subversives or mere supporters followed suit and revealed untold sufferings of the brave Filipinos. Those who later fall into the military prison camps were many. The arrests were all-embracing regardless of creed, profession and persuasion. Fr. de la Torre was an SVD priest, Satur Ocampo aand Julius Fortuna were Journalists, and Fidel Agcaoli, a firebrand nationalist. Victor Corpus, an erstwhile professor at Philippine Military Academy in Baguio, Bernabe Buscayno, the founder of the New Peoples’ Army, the armed combatant of Communist Party of the Philippines. They fell into the hands of the military one after the other. The list continues.
        These gentlemen learned later the stark reality in detention centers and started paying the price for their cause. Burning of genitals, electric and water shock treatment, pulling off of fingernails using pliers among others became the fad of the time. The longer the prisoners do not confessed, the longer they were tortured. Task Force Detainees (TFD) established later in 1974 by Association of Major Religious Group has the complete data and presentation of the harrowing experience of the political detainees. Ninoy had also his Testament from the Prison Cell telling an account of his abduction, his spiritual transformation, his refusal to be tried by the Military Commission and the strong defense and encouragement and defense put up by Salonga in a Military Tribunal. The book was the product of his reflection while inside the prison cell he put into writing and collated from several manuscript he gives to Cory Aquino after each visit made. Ninoy did not recognize the legality of the military court and in fact sees no difference with a kangaroo court.
        Good for those who were properly accounted for as political prisoners, the Task Force Detainees and other cause-oriented groups rallied their release and freedom to the end. But for those summarily executed, it was just too bad for them to have darkness and the silence of their executioners as mute witnesses.
        “God knows how to punish these ruthless executioners comes the time of reckoning,” many survivors would soon reveal after experiencing the savagery of militarization.
        It is even disheartening to learn that those who were not able to resist the shock treatment became nuts and or given the coup de grace to lessen their sufferings. Euthanasia in action, you might say it. May they all rest in peace and God makes their souls whiter than snow. Ironically, movies would portray later these butchers as heroes never touching the plot of their stupid exploits. The moviegoers just loving seeing it anyway like crazy..
        Marcos massive detention activists murdering some are reminiscent of Joseph Stalin’s purging of his enemies he perceived as threat to chair vacated by Lenin. It’s not a far-fetched idea that Marcos’ attempt of putting the strong opposition behind barbed wires is a photo-copy of Stalin. The only difference and catch is that Marcos was smarter than Stalin. He knows how to execute his plan in the right place, right time and with right reason. At least, that is what Marcos perceived in proclaiming Martial Law on September 21, 1972.
        Martial Law as concept became hot stuff and most abused concept even among his apostles surprisingly. Marcos himself sounds like a fifteenth century reborn apologist defending its necessity. He repeatedly claims that it is not a military take-over civilian function, not even a coup d’ etat and never an attempt of installing a revolutionary government. The military has not taken over the government, he would flatly defend.
        ”It is merely called upon to assist the civil government to restore within the shortest possible time the tranquility of the Filipino people and the security of the Philippines,” explained AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Espino in defense of the military establishment.
        “Civil authority is still supreme except where it cannot perform its functions and prerogative or is not adequate to protect individual properties and life,” says Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile.
        “A heaven-sent relief, “any foreign investors alarmed by the state of rebellion would say.
Too many justifications by too many apologists. Such had been the situation when Martial Law was implemented. There were indeed too many ‘whys’ depending on the personality of the speaker. Unfortunately, the more they utilized rhetoric the faster they explained the issue away. Such is the common perception of a layman. That following the declaration of Martial Law comes the death of democracy.
        Unknown to Juan de la Cruz, save for the President and his apologists, it has been thought that Uncle Sam helped in instigating the declaration of Martial Law. In fact, the Justice and Peace Review would divulge later that draft of Martial Law’s declaration was on the American Ambassador’s desk two months before it was issued. Who’s fooling whom? Quite understandable because the resurgence of nationalist movement threatening US and its allies was eminent. Internecine strife within the elite was just a good excuse.
        To whose benefits after all Martial Law accrued? Nothing else but US, Marcos and most importantly, the military establishment unparalleled in the history of the country. That the latter underwent sweet metamorphosis invested with enormous power and privilege by Marcos could be considered a lasting legacy. The opposite holds true. It’s the civilians who bear the high cost. To think that the majority who suffered most are the innocent victims, new born, children and even elders who should have been given decent burials makes the issue all the more outrageous.
For its part, it is understandable that Uncle Sam would like to maintain its US bases in the country and continue adopting the Philippines as its capitalist enclave enjoying its privilege from the past deal at will. The system for this approach is Manifest Destiny and Benevolent Assimilation.
        There are twenty other countries in the world where US blatantly intervened according to Tom Gervasi, Director, Center for Military Research and Analysis. These happened between 1800 and 1983. These countries are: Nicaragua, Peru, Panama, Uruguay, Columbia, Chile, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, China, Siberia, Korea, Laos, Congo, Vietnam, Grenada and Panama. The research committee of the national movement for civil liberties also noted that between 1961 and 1976, the CIA carried out 900 major secret operations “aimed at overthrowing governments and otherwise influencing political development.”
        The recent political development in Middle East after has shown it all how ruthless Uncle Sam is in connivance with United Nations. So it’s practically very easy to sell one’s soul to Uncle Sam.
All you have to do is to keep mum about his intervention and meddling. That’s what happened to our country’s economy. Again we should learn a lesson from our past mistakes. Chiang Kai Shek, Gandhi, Tito and the rest taught us how to say “enough” or we allow the US strangles our economy further. Philippines is not a hopeless case after all.
        Power begets power. Marcos himself became Jack Whirler of all trades’ double as a result of his PD 1081. Sustaining fourteen long years of dictatorship is no ordinary feat to a mortal. But Marcos did it extraordinary. First, it allowed him to produce another Constitution. Second, as Commander-in-Chief, he could make as many Presidential Decrees, General Orders, Letters of Instruction and similar decrees as he wishes. He did enjoyed his orgy of making laws. Cardinal Sin himself later criticized Marcos’ prolific decrees which became laws of the land claiming that even saliva he spits are made laws the following day. Thus, ushering the death of democracy. With one man rule anyway plus the blind loyalty of his cohorts and trusted lieutenants, how would democracy survive. Domino effect was all felt everywhere in judicial system, Senate and House of Representatives. The judiciary, legislature and congress stripped off of their vital functions were transformed into mere rubber stamp by Marcos overnight. Good that he did not go nuts managing and controlling everything. It’s quiet tough specially for an ordinary citizen. Take for instance his smorgasbord long list of laws. Any ordinary taxpayer would suffer an intellectual indigestion, a great shame to this country of many higher institutions of learning, once he reads them. Consider for example his moralizing in his first fifteen general orders extolling Filipinos of adopting Cleanliness is next to Godliness dictum be it in his house, road, and community or in government and encouraging thriftiness by limiting town fiesta to only one day making it as simple and economical as possible. People from Bohol and Dalagit, Cebu could definitely not buy such idea or general order as Marcos might say it.
        While his general order deals with not so-serious issues, his letter of instructions were imperative and coercive ordering his Secretaries of different Department to take control of everything their hands could lean on for and in behalf of the government. And this one is for Ripley’s believe it or not, indeed one of Martial Law’s irony. It tried to confiscate vital private industries and yet Marcos himself and cronies keep theirs and worst, engage in wanton destruction of other properties. As an offshoot of this modus operandi, each crony would amass wealth as much as he could with impunity. Management by example, the greedy cronies justify. Manapat’s Some Are Smarter Than Others written in monastery provides revealing account of the plunder of the economy by selected few smarter than others as the title of the book suggest..
        Presidential decrees were another laws of the land couched in legalistic terms but were good only in papers. Example of these were PD 2 and 27, two agrarian related decrees subjecting the entire country under Agrarian Reform Program and decreeing the emancipation of tenants from the bondage of soil applying only to the tenant-farmers of private agricultural lands primarily devoted to rice and corn. Well decreed but not when it dawns to Juan de la Cruz that the President himself excluded 1,800 hectares of his farm right in his own backyard in Ilocos Sur. Follow what I say but not what I do, he would probably meant.
         His PD 28 establishing seven Regional Prisons so far served its purpose later. Generally though, such aforementioned proclamation did more damage to many Juan de la Cruzes prompting them to seek defense in the mountain either becoming armed combatants or merely supporter of the rebels’ cause. With thousands of concerned Filipinos fleeing in the hills finding strength from collective force of the people, Marcos definitely qualifies as the biggest NPA recruiter.
        Over all, it’s the Filipinos themselves who received the severe beatings from the proclamation of Dictatorship. Filipinos to mean the great majority herded in many prison camps who were civilians with the rest allegedly subversives or participants to commission of crimes. Initial numbers apprehended by the military troops was 60,000 of whom 45,958 were later released leaving 4,553 and the 2,500 as participants in the commission of common crimes. Unfortunately, none of those charge with violent overthrow of the government and those who committed crimes were brought into the court. How could the military tribunals anyway handle their cases given their numbers? Soon the government face additional burden of maximizing budget for meals of those newly arrested. Alarmed by the worsening scenarios of Martial Law, The Roman Catholic Association of Major Religious organized the Task Force Detainees on January, 1974 barely more than one year after the declaration of Martial Law. TFD calculated that there were 75,000 prisoners of conscience. Other human right group followed suit. The Free Legal Assistance Group extended free legal services to political detainees and calls for better prison condition and facilities.
        The Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace (EMJP) organized October 1979 also extended the necessary lift by documenting human rights violation, a fact many military men didn’t like or abhorred. If a military kills a rebel out of official duty in protecting the sovereignty of the state and security of its citizen, he would be charged with human rights violation. But if a rebel happens to kill a government trooper, it is just alright, said one disgruntled military.
Detention and arrest of political detainees is just a prelude to another important dimension of Martial Law i.e. torture reminiscent of Hitler’s systematic genocide of the Jews he alleged belonging to lowly and degrading Aryan race. Actonian adage of Edmund Burke was right: “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
        Marcos denied it several times. But torture was part of his machinery. Aberrations, he might say yes but not outright torture ban by Geneva Convention and Protocol II where the Philippines was a signatory. Amnesty International quickly dismissed that idea with their findings November-December 1975, three years after Martial Law, involving 105 political prisoners. AI noted that 68 of the prisoners were subjected to brutal treatment during their interrogations following their arrest. This was not so widespread among women detainees though “intimidation involving threats of sexual assault was common place,” AI wrote. Methods used were: electric shock using a small generator sending electric current to genitals; San Juanico Bridge, named after one of the longest bridge in Asia connecting several islands in the Visayas. This refers to lying-on-the-air torture where a detainee lies with his feet on one bed and his head on the other bed. He’s then beaten when his body falls or sags. Other forms are truth serum, famous among detective fiction and stories; Russian roulette, Falanga-beating soles of feet until a detainee is unable to walk; beating with fists, kicks and karate blows; beating of contusive instruments; heads pounded against the walls or furniture; standing naked before an air-condition unit; water cure and other forms of torture. People notorious of doing these are mostly officers of PC, NISA and other military and police intelligence officers, AI further noted.
        Lt. Col. Rodolfo Aguinaldo, Provincial commander of Cagayan Province, former head of C2 Special Intelligence team was considered as one of the most persistent and systematic Lord of Torture in the military according to EMJP. He employs almost all techniques imaginable to squeeze desired information by putting filthy things in the mouth of a detainee like a cockroach, dead rat or even human excreta. That’s what he did to Henson Laurel and Satur Ocampo, erstwhile journalists. Gerry Bulatao who would become top executive of the Department of Agrarian Reform suffered similar fate from the hands of this rabid torturer. Similar complaint was lodged against Gen. Jovito Palparan called the Berdugo for having killed many rebels during his round in Mindoro. His orgy of  killings   innocent civilians and leaders made him a dreaded military officer during his term..
        The arrest was indeed sweeping for as long as your name is included in the list of battle. Your day and nights will be never be the same again until you’re captured and treated to horrendous persecution. But good for these people that their bodies were accounted for. Those enforced disappearances incidentally are yet to be counted and itemized. There are thousands of them.  One such tragic end was Nong Colas who after volunteering as missionary in a village hasn’t returned yet home. The reason why Cedric, his eldest son still celebrates his birthday with an earnest hope short of miracle that he would come back someday. Unfortunately, the incident right after the declaration of Martial Law and since then not even any shadow of his father could be seen, let alone his name heard.
        There have been reported cases of those who went nuts as a result of torture. Others just died. The rest were just given coup d’ grace. If distrust by the military against the political detainees and ordinary civilian would stay killing in turn these detainees and or civilians in the process, then we are not far remote on what happened to Khmer Rouge Regime under Pol Pot where close to 700,000 or 1 million people died between 1975-79 of illness, exhaustion and or starvation. A certain Fernandez incidentally of course of  Filipino lineage was incidentally one  among the accomplice of Pol Pot’s savagery. When do we Filipinos ever learn? While there is still time or when we’re already blown into bits and pieces to borrow Aldous Huxley idea in his Brave New World.
. . . .  . . . . .
        Undoubtedly, Martial Law was never that good alternative. It brings us closer to death all the more each day. This what many Filipinos  experience, treated as scapegoat of a system not of their own choice.
        It was just like double whammy among human rights victims as torturers would even become big guns of the society they serve – from Brigadier General to Lawmakers of the land, Senators in Senate and Congressmen in the House of Representatives.  Their lives were even portrayed as role models in make-believe world of movies. And the gullible Filipino moviegoers just enjoyed viewing them anyway not knowing their real story and the pivotal roles they played in the past. Same people holding on to power and their dynasty taking turn later one after the other.
        “Wowow,  when would this vicious cycle ends?” the bottom line and hanging  question the group wants addressed.
        What a fun the group had – all open for possibilities where years would lead them through.
        Those however both of Driarco and Taklin was already consecrated for a purpose as if following pre-ordained path giving themselves in service for others. Fr. Driarco smiled thanking the power of reflection, his mind transformed into a temporary camera e events of the past on cue could be played back at will in such colorful fashion.
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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Chapter 9 - Martial Law

Chapter 9
Martial Law

     Tmass singing of Philippine National Anthem just ended. The tone unlike in the past days sang mechanically was treated with collective nationalistic fervor everybody’s hands on their left breast. Lieutenant Joselito Ludemir, the school’s assigned military officer is very strict on that. Non-compliance of this nationalistic condition will lead you meted with punishments push-ups or running around the oval or doing civil duty like sweeping the ground. The music with much gusto was reminiscent of revolutionary period with feelings singing in the end “ang mamatay ng dahil sa ‘yo!’ Pledge of allegiance to the country followed. Soon after the brief announcement from the principal, all students proceeded to campus quadrangle. Swelling with students, the quadrangle transformed itself outright into sea of humanity instantly. Two huge mango trees stood in between an old stage. Big Sony colored TV set and VHS installed by the school’s technician waited to be operated on. From the looks of it, it’s going to be another date with history, as the group would like to call it among themselves last week at Aling Nita’s refreshment parlor. That day Mr. Paler, the bulky Head of Related Subject department would discuss Martial Law, the much-sought topic for discussion lately in the school was up next.
          “So my dear students, ladies and gentlemen, take and hold your breath now. I have two very important announcements to make this morning,” he said formally breaking the ice. The inquisitive students have all their eyes focused on the speaker of the day.
          “First may I start with the good news. There will be no class for one week starting today, September 25, 1972,” he said pointing his index finger to the base of the rostrum.
Wave of catcalls and thunderous applause from the students ensued.
          “That’s one week, I repeat,” he emphasized allowing time to sink the good news into the consciousness of students.
          “So the management regrets to inform you that we gathered here just the same as scheduled last week to give us ample time discussing the issue to really take serious look on matters of great importance. If you wish we can have healthy debate on this. Never mind how long it would take. As soon as this forum is finished I would declare you could go back home free later. Those who have personal inquiries could also see me later.”
          Second wave of catcalls roars. It took few more minutes for Mr. Paler to calm down the students. Raising his right hand up fidgeting the students to pause from their sustained applause, he proceeded.
          “Okay. So did everybody get me right? That means that the entire country starting last Thursday, September 21, 1972 after the signing of that infamous Proclamation No. 1081 and the clearance of implementation granted by the president nine o’clock in the evening the following day, is already under Martial Law.
          Everybody who has pocket calendar should mark that date red to signify that the country is having important date with history.” Mr. Paler further dished out.
           Reaching for a copy of Philippine Free Press magazine from the table nearby he said. “It’s just like this,” Mr. Paler said  showing the second page revealing a caricature of Minister Juan Ponce Enrile, the Secretary of National Defense, holding and aiming a gun waiting the cue from Mr. Marcos when to command the fire. Dangling from the muzzle of that gun was a poster with the words                         ‘Martial Law’ indelibly marked on it.
          “That was last week’s issue yet. This very day Mr. Enrile continues firing that gun. And that is the bad news. I don’t know if such gun also points towards anyone of us right here in the campus,” he said with reservation his forefinger pointing his captive crowds.
          “We are, as I said, entering a new history other countries would perhaps envy or condemn – I don’t know -. So let history be our judge then. Unfortunately though, very soon we would all be treated to a live and interesting entertainment rarely happening in this planet.”
          “Like what?” Erly murmurs to Louie by his side.
          “Massacre, assassination, illegal detention, human right violation, institutionalization of graft and corruption, torture and all other military and para-military abuses,” Louie immediately answered Erly.
          “So I am earnestly requesting all of you my dear students to inform your parents about this development. Remember that a well-informed citizenry is a must to a vibrant democracy. If need be, you can have healthy discussion about this among yourselves. Third, whatever happens, be calm as Jesus advised to his disciples worried of the big waves their banca about to capsize. We are still in part one. By the way Part Two of this program would be the presentation of some TV footages our school technician painstakingly captured these past few days from local TV stations. For this morning, we will be showing to you the President, His Excellency Ferdinand E. Marcos addressing the entire nation about the necessity of declaring the Martial Law. This was taken just last Saturday 23rd 1972 this year of course just in the evening and was shown nationwide. The radio also broadcasted it verbatim and live. The stations who did not cooperate on this directed I suppose would be in trouble. I’m afraid they would either be blacklisted or have their licenses cancelled. Too bad. So don’t you be surprised folks if we have to call this forum and show you what’s going on at  least we would have an assurance that our heads would not be axed by those in power – the Almighty I mean.”
          Chuckle from the students was heard all over. Soon Sony TV was mounted over a classroom table atop the stage. Lights flickered. Each one was caught in deep bated breath as historical political drama gradually unfolding before their naked eyes.
          The President and the First Lady in her signature mestiza gown was beside the President at the center of the table. Cigar-chomping Gen. Fidel Ramos, Enrile, Gen. Ver and other top brass generals belonging to the twelve apostle of Martial Law were all seated at the presidential table. Though their look did not conceal semblance of dreaded Gestapo of Herr Hitler, the confusion that breeds stress and apprehension among televiewers was reflected right in their very own faces. But not Marcos occupying the rostrum and is about to reveal and gauge the acceptability of his Martial Law declaration. The insignia of Presidency so pronounced was seen visibly attached dangling on the rostrum, a common sight among televiewers at the background.
          “…The proclamation of Martial Law is not a military takeover,.” the President broke the ice.  He then proceeded reading from the prepared speech part of the entire text of his Magnum Opus.
I as your duly elected President of the Republic, use this power implemented by the military authorities, to protect the Republic of the Philippines and our democracy. A republican and democratic form of government is not a helpless government. When it is imperiled by the danger of a violent overthrow, insurrection, and rebellion, it has an inherent built-in powers wisely provided for under Constitution. Such a danger confronts the Republic . . . .”
“Thus, Article VII, Section 10, paragraph 2 of the Constitution provides: The President shall be commander-in Chief of all the armed forces of the Philippines and, whenever it becomes necessary he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, or rebellion. In case of invasion, insurrection, or imminent danger thereof, when the public safety requires it, he may suspend the privilege of the writ habeas corpus, or place the entire Philippines or any part thereof under Martial Law.”
          “This is not a military takeover of civil government of the Republic of the Philippines, which was established by our people in 1946,”  he continues. The officials and employees of our national and local governments continue in office and mush discharge their duties as before within the limits of the situation. This will be clarified by my subsequent orders which shall be given wide publicity.”
          Sobriety was written all over the faces of students as silence gripped the environment while President Marcos was serious reading his Martial Law statement. They’re dead serious listening wanting that each word uttered by the President would not slipped by their mind uncaught and misunderstood. About two-thirds of the entire students population congregated right below the stage enabling them to have commanding view of the recent video footage. The statement was long but the watchers didn’t mind. In their faces are traces of inquisitiveness of the whole issue of Martial Law. The President proceeded with his uninterrupted message. General Ramos was seen busy emitting smoke from his big cigar ala Fidel Castro of Cuba. Enrile, Ver and company occasionally engaged in a huddle with the First Lady; others were glued on their chairs. Marcos continues:
We will explain the requirements and standards or details as soon as possible. But any form of corruption, culpable negligence or arrogance will be dealt with immediately. The armed forces already cleaned up its own ranks. I am directing the organization of a military tribunal to look into military offenders immediately. For more than any other man, the soldier must get the standard of nobility. We must be courageous but we must be humble and above all we must be fair. As this is true of the soldier, it must be true of the civilians’ public officer.
Let no man who claims to be friend, relative or ally presume to seek license because of this relationship. If he offends the New Society, he shall be punished like the rest. Those who don’t peddle violence have nothing to fear. They can move about and perform their daily activities without any fear from government after the period of counteraction is over. The persons who will be adversely affected are those who have actively ‘fight against” the duly constituted government of the Republic of the Philippines by violence. But all public officials and employees whether of the national or local government must conduct themselves in the manner of a new and reformed society,” the President emphasized.
“. . . . The carrying of firearms outside residences without the permission of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is punishable with death. Curfew is established from 12 o’clock midnight to 4 o’clock in the morning. The departure of the Filipinos abroad is temporarily suspended exceptions are those of official missions that are necessary. Clearances will be given by the Secretary of National Defense. In the meantime, rallies, demonstration are prohibited. So too are strikes in critical public utilities.

          It is my intention beginning tomorrow (September 24, 1972) to issue all the orders which would attain reforms in our society.”
          “That was yesterday, Sunday yet,” interrupted Mr. Paler to the viewing students.
This would include the proclamation of land reform all over the Philippines, the reorganization of the government, new rules and conduct for the Civil Service, the removal of corrupt and inefficient public officials and their replacement and the breaking up of criminal syndicates. I repeat – this is the same government that you, the people established in 1946 under the Constitution of the Philippines.”
          There is no doubt in everybody’s mind that a state of rebellion exists in the Philippines. The President went on to say in a singsong tone. He then narrated instances of rebellion he claimed part of conspiracy in overthrowing the government. People from different walks of life – from an ordinary man in the street to laborers, peasants in the countryside, industrialists in urban areas and those in the government know that there exists state of rebellion in the country, he claimed. Even the Supreme Court in its decision in the case of Lansang vs. Garcia on December 11, 1971 recognizes the danger of the problem and critical one which might become worse in due time. Consequently, commerce and industry in the country might also be paralyzed, he revealed. Should this happen, it would be tragedy to the economy of the country. President Marcos also scored on the sporadic guerilla warfare staffed by the New Peoples’ Army, the armed combatant of Communist headed by Ka Dante. There has been many casualties, he noted. The critical hot spots spelled out by the President were Isabela, Zambales, Tarlac, Camarines Sur, Quezon for Luzon and Lanao del Sur, Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Cotabato for Mindanao. The New Peoples’ Army reportedly controlled many provinces and municipalities and that they had successfully organized invisible shadow government and sizable barrio revolutionary committee.
          Infiltration by the Communist Party of the Philippines was so fast according to Marcos that they have expanded their operations in Cagayan, Nueva Viscaya and Quirino and Mountain Provinces of Ifugao, Kalinga-Apayao, Bontoc and Benguet. His own province of Ilocos and La Union were likewise not spared. Practically what the President is trying to emphasize is the capability of the reds of geometric expansion to rural sanctuary even into the remotest barangays and far-flung provinces. This what exactly happened in Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Quezon provinces. Now the trend is leading towards Albay and Sorsogon.
          Thus far, the President deliberately didn’t mention the status of Armed Forces of the Philippines. His statement was all focused on the armed elements of the outlawed Communist Party of the Philippines or CPP. He said that their strength increased to unprecedented 100% in six months period that is, 10,000 whose regular members are farmers in daytime and become soldiers of the people in the evening. Similar observation was made on the reportedly front organizations of CPP. The most militant Kabataang Makabayan chaired by Jose Maria Sison, former professor at University of the Philippines and Samahang Demokratikong Kabataan enjoyed increasing its chapters from 200 in 1970 to 317 by July, barely two months ago before the proclamation of Martial Law. Membership was said to have reached 15,000 from 10,000 enjoying an increase of 50%. These members underwent brainstorming, a rigid one for a neophyte. Those who were successfully indoctrinated became fanatical members. The SDK was said to have reached 1,495 such kinds of members by July that year.
          Taklin among those sitting in front understood full well what President Marcos so far dished out. He was sitting on the ground in cactus position. Despite critical situation seen through the television, he remains undaunted otherwise Philippine Military Academy in Baguio City could be a wrong place for him next     opening. There were many images playing in his mind: shadows of himself as warrior setting the pace for commando operation against reds in the hinterlands exchanging bullets.
          With President Marcos reading his Martial Law statement the more his consciousness drawn him to war zones seeing he killing rebels at will. The resonant voice of Mr. Paler behind the students however leads him back to where he was – in a quadrangle. Maybe he’s too exhausted physically drained after that non-stop treatise about the granting of emergency power to the President.
          “Now watch out for the big kill by the government troopers,” he bleared through the microphone taking Taklin and company unexpectedly. This time a colorful footage taken at the seashore in Palanan was shown. The camera focused on the ordinary ocean-going ship M/V Karagatan. Marcos’ voice like a sportscaster baritone provided an inside commentary:
          “This was the landing of M/V Karagatan with a reported 3,500 M-16 rifles of which only about 900 were recovered by the Armed Forces of the Philippines; about 30 rocket launchers of the M-40 variety of which only six (6) were recovered from the arena. Also recovered by our forces were 160,000 rounds of ammunition, two browning automatic rifles which were originally looted by defector Victor Corpus from the arsenal of the Philippine Military Academy, five garland M-6 rifles, one telephone switch board, seven telephone sets, numerous M-16 magazines and many revealing subversives documents.”
          The recovery according to Marcos was very important because of the three interrelated factors: it tells us that the NPAs could acquire military hardwires by bulk; that source of funding could be either taken from domestic to foreign source and third; that the armed combatants are capable of landing both military weapons and personnel anywhere in the country.
Louie, Taklin Horace, Grace, Limuel, Lorna, Josefil and the rest of the gang were all present. The rest were spread out and were part of the crowd. Each one listened attentively. Horace didn’t regret not raising any question earlier to Mr. Paler.
           The various TV footages especially that of President Marcos’ statement on Martial Law provided him the best answer. However firsthand information explained, he still believes that it is only infallible as far as Marcos is concerned. For he would probably ready to bet his life arguing its futility not even a remedy of containing his allegation of rebellion. He is ready to challenge anybody in fact who holds otherwise view. Unless every movement no matter how explosive such might be should be related to the countries present history that of making itself a responsive and active democratic country. The state of rebellion President Marcos would like to believe himself is just an indication of outpouring of nationalistic feelings in its fullest sense and should be addressed as such at its very roots. This is a big challenge for democracy, he believes. Martial law is not and never a short cut solution to such problem. Even ideologues change.
          People fighting the government are not fighting the government per se but rather for their empty stomach, lands to till, freedom and independence of the country. This is very crucial for Horace. Magsaysay once showed it giving resettlement here and there for the Huks breaking down the backbone of insurgency in the process. That’s what he did to Hukbulahap headed by then Supremo Luis Taruc. Satisfied by the sincerity shown by then President Magsaysay, he came down from the hills and joined the government helping deliver the goods and services for his men who were once deprived of government’s basic services.
          It is just really doesn’t make any sense fighting fellow Filipino, people of the same race, nation and blood, the thought running in his mind. The alleged conspiracy claimed by Marcos is therefore untenable. It is just a natural indication of how people react once they’re charge against the wall by the same government they helped  develop and sustain through their taxes ironically Marcos handily lend or sell to Uncle Sam. So it’s all over again the issue of nationalism and American imperialism.
“It is very easy to squeeze a nation indeed to death specifically if there’s an imprimatur from the West. Simple suicidal act in other words,” Horace thought.
Mindanao, the second largest island after Luzon in the country, suffered also the brutality of rebellion. President Marcos it seems would not leave any stones unturned in his campaign for Martial Law. So many killings happened to this island and Sulu he said numbering an aggregate 503,000 of which 1,000 civilians were killed in crossfire and 2,000 armed Muslims and Christians combatant. The 500,000 were those directly afflicted by war injured, displaced and or rendered homeless the rest were casualties from the government troops.
          Thus said, Marcos found no other better alternative than to resort to his last fortress of defense – declaration of Martial Law. From layman’s point of view there’s no question that the restlessness among the people is very disturbing. But was it legal or moral? Given the number of armed combatants Vis a Vis to the number of NPAs it was obvious that the government troops are in better position and could wipe out the rest from the face of the country. But why did he not deploy his armed troops to chase the reds sending instead citizens geographical units? Further, why did he assume that the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is of no use?
          “The reason is clear. He still wants to cling himself to power by invoking Constitutional authoritarianism,” Horace though after Marcos’ last statement from the footage.
 His conclusion surprisingly invokes God’s grace and blessing for his action.
          ‘All that we do is for the Republic and for you. Rest assured that we will continue to do so. I have prayed to God for guidance. Let us all continue to do so. I am confident that with God’s help we will attain our dream of a reformed society, new and brighter world.’
          “What for?” Erly murmured to Louie.
          “Maybe to confuse devil,” answered Louie.
          The school technician put off the TV set. Momentarily break.
          “Now back to sanity,” said Mr. Paler who hurriedly went upstage. Those who were sitting down arose as the Head of the Relate Subject Department got hold of the microphone.
          “Briefly then, what we have seen so far are images showing the prelude to Martial Law or Rule of the Camp if you wish straight from the horse mouth from no less than the author himself. From his statement, there are at least four points we have to understand fully well or those who would come after us would soon condemn us to obscurity. First, the country is in a state of rebellion. At least that what Marcos claims. Secondly, said conspiracy caught fire from Luzon all the way down to Mindanao in preparation of overthrowing the government by armed combatants belonging to the New People’s Army. By the way, don’t you also discredit possible resurgence of Moro Secessionists? Thirdly, it has been emphasized that the President cognizant of the danger posed by the lawless elements utilized two other courses of action authorized by the Philippine Constitution namely suppressing the reds by our armed forces but to no avail; suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in making the arrest of offenders easier. Having learned that the conspiracy has been raging hot like fireball out to grab power sending our economy reeling, it was necessary to resort for the final and ultimate antidote, Martial law what else. So much with that stuff, I know many of you too are reeling. I know that there are many questions at the back of your mind and that you know too that we could not fully answer them no matter how hard we could try. Hence, let me call it a day and thanks indeed for your general listening patience. Keep your violent reactions to yourself. You will outgrow them yourself as time passes by. You’re all dismissed. Good luck and see you next week.”                                      
. . . . . . . . .  . . .

          “What do you think of Martial law?” Taklin asked Driarco to check if both have the same vibration on the subject on their way back home. If Driarco would find the proclamation legal, then Taklin would know that after all he is not only a lone ranger supportive to the cause of Marcos.
          “As Horace explained last week at Aling Nita’s, I really think that the factors we saw earlier prompting the President in declaring Martial law should be seen from the entire context of nationalist interpretation of history. The rebellion, insurrection whatever stated by Marcos are just an indication of abnormality. In a democratic country like the Philippines there is no better substitute in acknowledging such development as legitimate outpouring of nationalists’ sentiment. Of course this is my point of view and I’m not at all surprised if others feel the same way. Pardon me but it’s not definitely my intention of ramming it down peoples’ throat. After all under Socratic tradition of dialogue you or any Juan de la Cruz might have better idea than us. It is immaterial. What is important is that it is always good to hear all sides to lessen the impact the issue might have later to many Juan de la Cruzes,” Driarco shared.
          “Don’t get me wrong buddy,” I too agree with you that force is deemed indispensable in quelling fires of rebellion. British did it to their conquered territories in many Asian countries infested by commies. Suharto did it to in Indonesia as averred by Horace. Classic example indeed,” Driarco said giving Taklin benefits of his doubts.
          “So I think it’s not really that surprising buddy when Marcos used PD 1081. It’s the best pretext he has to hold on to his power. Unless he intends inviting Uncle Sam’s troops in fighting the commies which is most unlikely because of their military bases right here. There’s just no way for Marcos to flex his military might. Besides, the US had already that enigma of North Vietnam. For all they know, they might receive the worst beating from the reds right here who are certified practitioner of War of the Flea or guerilla warfare.”
          “Disciples of San Tzu,” Taklin interrupted.
          “Par excellence. Filipinos are unpredictable lot you know and are flexible as bamboos. I think they are better and effective practitioners of the trade than any of our neighboring countries. History incidentally avers the veracity of that observation. And the military would be quick to claim that we have an inherent aptitude and skills of warfare. For how could Lapulapu, Sultan Kudarat, Andres Bonifacio, Aguinaldo and the rest had successfully defended the country from foreign invaders for instance if they did not have that ingenuity or mastery of guerilla warfare. Another important factor that would give a lot of headache to our government troops of course is the country’s geographical location. Imagine an island of 7,100 separated in between by mighty bodies of waters. Given that situation, it would not be surpassing to know that it is next only to impossible destroying or annihilating entirely the reds. Look again at North Vietnam. See how the Americans looked like stupid. No matter how hard they projected themselves as heroes in movies there’s no way hiding the truth that by proportion, they suffered most than Ho Chi Minh’s foot soldiers.  So what do you think we get from that?”
          “More sufferings only for Juan de la Cruz. Worst still, wanton destruction of our economy,” Taklin thought. But he just remained silent wanting to get clearer perception of the whole story. Driarco was right. It is indispensable treating the issue from all angles.
          “So where that leave us? It simply requires us to go back to square one, that is, dialogue in any round table,” Driarco batted in catching up Taklin’s blistering pace wondering why he was acting like professor ala-Theodore dishing out his own treatise about demerits of Martial law. He might as well proceed since he has started it after all he’s now nearing the homestretch.
          “You see if Filipinos would only practice really democracy I don’t think there is a need to ask for more. If not then maybe benevolent dictatorship like those of Chiang Kai Shek of Taiwan and South Korea who happens to change one government after the other. Same with then Gandhi of India and Tito of Yugoslavia. Take note that some of these countries notably Taiwan and South Korea did not entirely cut the umbilical cord between them and USA. But they were brave enough reminding US not to strangle their countries by blocking open economy and free trade system. That’s the best thing ever did paving the way later to industrialization. Few more years and these countries could give the Americans run of their lives.”
          Taklin nodded.
           “Well taken Professor Driarco de la Serna. You’re indeed extra-ordinary lecturer. When you become a Bishop, please remember me.”
          “I’ll take you as my sacristan Mayor.”
Familiar voices were heard from behind. They were those of Erly, Horace and the rest of the gang catching up their pace.
          “Whatever happen to you there folks?” Erly addressed Driarco and Taklin briskly walking away from the crowds.
          “Your faces are ashen-looking. Seems like you’ve just woke up from your graves.”
          “Not surprising buddy,” Driarco answered looking back to Erly.
          “It’s the death of democracy in the country,” Taklin snapped.
          “My condolence, sincerest one to all of you,” he added.
          “Good for us we’re just looking like zombies walking on this concrete pavement. Bad for you and everybody else, you do all smell bloody corpse left by wolves,” Driarco interjected sending burst of laughter from the gang.
          “Hey there guys,” Limuel told the gang walking. “Mr. Paler forgot to tell us of the ambush of Mr. Enrile maybe inadvertently, Secretary of National Defense last week yet. Who do you think staged that ambush? Good that the poor guy was not killed.”
          “Where in the world do you think you would find a scripted ambush would go? Do you think that the different cast who stage that play as a show window of conspiracy in the country would murder their own Director,” articulated Horace.
          “You mean the ambush was merely used as an excuse by Marcos in proclaiming Martial Law,” Taklin snapped back.
          “Well said,” Louie complimented.
          “All in war you know is deception,” Horace braced himself for another round of discussion.
          “Truth has always been the first direct casualty in every war. Marcos does it in his Martial Law. It’s his war against us. The killing is just the effect of that deception. I just could hardly imagine the hypocrisy of this government, a Janus-faced government if I may, building schoolhouses for the children, applied loan from IMF and World Bank, making laws for workable Agrarian Reform etc. But look what the government has done so far to the same people it vows to help. The schoolhouses were not used as classroom but concentration camps instead, money as loan receipt were lost to graft and corruption among cronies among others.
          “Safe houses excuse me you mean . . .” Grace corrected.
          “I love you for that. Right, safe houses rather of the schoolchildren transformed overnight into internal refugees. If I may continue, what happens to billions of dollars we get from financing institutions and so-called military aids from Uncle Sam? It’s a pity that forty percent of this money is paid back to the foreigners with the country spending only the remaining sixty percent. How could a country survive given that situation? Holy cow! Most unlikely, the government doesn’t have any saving capacity. Incredible but true? No way!”
          Recalling that one important item was left out, he said: “Oh yes what about agrarian reform program reputed to be the cornerstone of his New Society? Has there been any significant degrees enacted ensuring the improvement of Juan de la Cruz’ quality of life? Farming sector incidentally comprise the great majority of our total labor force. How about the small landowners the President deprived owning the lands, are they given support services they could take off for small economic enterprise? True that he has successfully transformed the Department into a Ministry with its Secretary, presently a Minister and become member of his cabinet family, a feat not even discovered by any other countries but look on million of farmers. They still remain ordinary farmers subject to the whims and caprices of the landowners and middlemen. One of the great irony, for while they feed the nation and protect the land, they themselves are malnourished practically caught in the quagmire of poverty. Worst still, they are merely tenants of absentee landlords,” Horace explained sharply. Catching his breath while with the group walking, he allowed himself to be roasted? But there was only silence.
          “Hello is there anybody home? It seems that God just passed by,” he disturbed.
          “Yea. We’re all wide awake,” Erly broke his group’s silence.
          “Good grief kid,” Horace lifted Erly’s spirit.
          Listening seriously the sharing of Horace, Taklin could not help himself but empathize with his good friend’s excellent synthesis. Sometimes misinterpreted as neophyte ideologue whose idealism would wither in the passage of time but Horace doesn’t mind branded as one. After all, he knows maybe the on-going issue better than others.
          Thinking aloud on the prospect of Agrarian Reform under President Magsaysay already underway towards progress, it would have been a brighter one. Unfortunately, he met his untimely death when his airplane he and some friends took for Cebu crashed at Mt. Manunggal, Cebu. His dream of liberating the farmers died with him on that fateful 1956 incident.  He had long been dead but not his vision of liberating farmer beneficiaries from the bondage of slavery. Supremo Luis Taruc of Huklabalahap Movement was one of his prize catch through the genius of then budding political figure Benigno Aquino Jr. The various resettlement projects he opened like those of project ABC for resettlement projects in Agusan del Sur, Bukidnon and Capiz averred the sincerity of Magsaysay in pursuing genuine Agrarian Reform Program. Thinking aloud on the crash of ill-fated airplane, Horace considered the Pentagon’s factor. President Roxas died too of heart attack at Clark Air Base prompting Elpidio Quirino assumed the presidency. Manuel Luis Quezon too of tuberculosis in Australia if the memory serving right.
          “Oh those dirty unfounded thoughts coming transforming me into devil’s advocate,” the idea amusing him.
           There are no available documents supporting the reliability and validity of his conjecture. His’ was merely a figment of imagination.
          When KGB would divulge Uncle Sam’s participation, this might embolden me conducting my own paper trail of the conspiracy. Conjecture is merely pure guess and nothing else,” he settled his wayward idea in the dustbin.
          “Next time maybe when able and material evidences are mounting, comprehensive and compelling at the right time’” he gathered his thoughts.
          “The saving grace would be that of Marcos,”
          “I hope so,” Grace snapped back uncertain.
          “Why not when significant events is this time seemingly is on the side of the people. Why so? Well if we have Andres Bonifacio’s Katipuneros writing their protest against the Spanish colonizers using their blood, maybe the strongman Ferdinand Marcos would not  be far behind as he personally wrote with his own hands Pres. Decree 27 or Operation Land Transfer in 1972 establishing the ceiling to five hectares corn lands and seven hectares for rice albeit weird to dramatize his political will for its success.”
          “Good to know that he also placed right away the entire country under Agrarian Reform Program under Presidential Decree No. 2 matching his PD1081 of Martial Law,”  Erly interjected stamping his imprimatur to that  historic agrarian reform legislation.
           “But why in the world after putting the entire country under Agrarian reform through his Pres. Decree No. 2 he managed exempting 1,800 hectares agricultural lands  from such coverage right in his own backyard!” a bombshell dropped by Horace.
          Long silence ensued each one seeing each other eye to eye shock attack of the untimely disclosure.
          “Sorry guys for it seemed I hit the nerve right on that  revelation. But I hope you should not be romantic and should be cautious on all the programs undertaken by the government. Look who are those in power? They’re all multimillionaires. Oligarchs no less. They’re spread in all branches of the government. And see all those big guns in Senate and Congress.  Ordinary Juan de la Cruzes  can’t simply afford buying the votes. Election is such a very prohibitive business. And unless you’re endeared to the general voting public as entertainers better forget running in an election.,” Horace further qualified.
          “Better then to have this Oligarchs lead in establishing industry creating labor source for subsisting Filipinos,” Grace volunteered.
          “It depends. Maybe in some industries but not Agrarian Reform because the bottom line is the land. In fact they are everywhere. And they’ve been there since the time of Spanish Conquistadores arrogating as many hectares they could grab and manage. But look the status of their laborers?  They’re merely used as accessories in perpetuating themselves in power what with the starvation salaries they are receiving and harassments when they fight against for mutually better arrangement or implementing what is there in the law.”
          But there are some exceptions when Oligarchs bought the property unfortunately have succeeded railroading the project evading the true intent of agrarian reform.
          “Hacienda Luisita is good example. Specifically, addressing the bone of contention which is the physical distribution of the 1,400 hectares no less representing one third of  6,500 hectares plantation to10,700 landless tillers,” Horace revealed.
          “Skewed agrarian reform? This is it with the Oligarchs arrogating themselves vast track of agricultural lands with majority total poor scampering on small landholdings; worst, many becoming illegal settlers of private properties. This is definitely what we don’t want the program to happen.”
“That’s why we need not necessary bright minds there in Congress and Senate that could legislate better laws than what we have now,” Horace ended.
It was such an acerbic remark from Horace indicating the need of probing the validity of  any issues raised to establish credibility of presidential, legal decrees and issuances.
          “The government is thriving on our peoples’ taxes exorbitant and prohibitive yet. We should therefore ask where did our money goes and convinced only when they give best and convincing answers. Otherwise, that right to know and giving feedback to government are waived, we don’t have any business either criticizing let alone has no moral ground and persuasion of fighting against it.”
Limuel, Taklin and Driarco who were just listening seemingly were all dumbfounded resolved in giving the floor to Horace.
          “Such is an ugly face of Haciendas and I hope future legislation would address this issue. Problem is the government might insert Stock Distribution Option clause giving back the control of the land through buying out the rights of the farmers depriving them chance  of owning the land.”
          “That exactly took its heavy toll in many similar haciendas in the country from HLI in Luzon, vast track of sugar plantation in Negros in  Visayas and huge Pineapple Plantation in Bukidnon and Gensan in Mindanao. Worst were several lives lost perpetuated by mighty landowners and the still continuing   harassment inflicted on  farmer leaders whose only concern is  the protection of their ranks, their respective families through physical possession of the lands for acquisition and distribution to them. I have several sensitive graphic footages and relevant documents uploaded on my email that defy description some of these haciendas showing some very sensitive scenes involving sons of this Oligarchs harassing farmer leaders. Who’s fooling whom in this program when these Oligarchs have been reiterating in media that no way they would distribute their property, “
          “Let President Marcos therefore prudently act fast or event might overtook him. But first he should eat his own words to show his sincerity first.  He should because such action could avert him a disgrace securing and carving him instead a niche in the country’s agrarian history and as his saving grace in what might be unpredictable reign of power.  But would he?” the question re-echoing on the consciousness of the clique.
          “Young and restless-that’s we were back then,” now Fr. Driarco smiled as the tale of dictatorship closed. But he was wrong. The journey towards Calvary is just beginning showing its ugly mongrel. This what indeed makes his day.

. . . . . . . . . .