Reality strikes when you are alone, or you are in a situation where you are solicited in sharing things you choose not to remember. It has been 105 days since my father death and more than 3 years since Luisa Posa Dominado and Leonilo “Nilo” Arado was abducted. Two separate incidents that had rock the “peace” in Panay Island but the memories remain vivid since there were closely related to me.
Luing and Nilo
I was a journalist in Antique when Maria Luisa Posa Dominado (Luing) and Nilo Arado together with Jose Ely Garachico (Leeboy) went to Antique on April 12, 2007 to conduct a meet up some people there. It was Thursday and after knowing that they were there I look for them and accompanied them.
I personally know them since I was also an activist before I became as a journalist and was based in Antique. I have rarely seen them since i stayed there from Aklan and I was hoping to get some news worthy stories for a regional newspaper.
I talked with Nilo about peasant’s activity and programs that the Pamanggas, the organization that he chaired will be implementing in Antique. We stayed in a house in San Pedro, San Jose and parted at around 7:00 pm on April 12, 2007. I went home and sleep early due to a tiring day and discovered around 20 miss calls and several text messages the next day informing me that Leeboy was shot, Nilo and Luing was abducted.
I joined the search in Antique, helped in verifying information about their location but to no avail. It was the first case of a celebrated forced disappearance in Panay.
Months before she was taken away, I have seen her face (still in her teens) being presented by the 79th IB of the Philippine army as the leader of the United Front Committee of the Communist Party of the Philippines in a Peace and Order Council meeting in San Jose. I secretly laugh since I know the military is again fabricating stories, like my own name in the “order of battle” that was shown to me when I arrived in Antique.
I never realized that the presentation will be the prelude to her and Nilo’s disappearance. They have joined the several cases of disaparecidos in the Philippines, a clear manifestation of the disrespect for the human rights by the state forces.
My father, Fernando Baldomero, a former communist guerrilla for two decades was arrested in 1993 and incarcerated in Antique Provincial Jail. I was studying in Antique as a first year highschool student when it happened. He was accused of several charges along with 37 other suspected NPAs but the cases were all dismissed 2 years later.
He is called Nanding by his relatives and friends, Caloy and Ine by his comrades.
He was freed, went home to Aklan and lived with us with my step mother. I was already a junior highschool that time and have not yet understand his cause. We even have many fights because of his military type of discipline that alienated me and my three brothers.
I became an activist in 1997 while studying in UP Miag-ao and later transferred to Kalibo, Aklan a year later. He was even against my joining in the League of Filipino Students and our rising radicalism since my three other brothers also joined in Anakbayan and LFS.
But later, our personal differences were settled when comrades step in, and get closer politically. It was also that time that he had decided to contribute again in the struggle but no longer as an armed combatant but an activist in Aklan.
He was a three-termer barangay councilor in our place and has gained the respect of my town mates and other people in Aklan and neighboring province. He was remain committed to the cause he had fight for more than two decades, despite for the fact that many comrades of his had decided to abandon their principles and instead joined reformist groups now collaborating with the government for money.
He was a hated figure by the military, despite of once being offered a million peso, a movie of his life, a colonel rank in the AFP intelligence, and other perks other former communist had gladly accepted. He remained poor but principled, some traits I was able to understand and respected years later in my own study of the nature and history of the national democratic struggle.
He ran for town councilor but did not win on 2004. Months after that he was rearrested in 2005, on a trump up charges. Jailed for months in Guimbal, Iloilo and later in Antique. As a media personality I even headlined him in Panay News, to the laughter of my colleagues, me making news out of the arrest of my father.
I never told them the fear that my father’s arrest would be the end of his life, the reason for the early exposure to the public will help in ensuring his safety. Since that time, it is already a common occurrence that activists arrested by elements of the state were never been found, or just been discovered dead accompanied by the military story of an “encounter”.
Again he was released from prison. Ran for 2007 elections and won as the town’s no. 7 councilor. He was one of the most vocal councilor in our town, the persistent leader and father of activists and ordinary masses in our province. He was the chairman of Bayan Muna-Aklan, member of Selda which Luing is also a member.
He ran again for reelection in 2010, and won as no. 3. Five days after he had formally sits as an SB member he was shot by two assassins riding in a motorcycle in front of his rented boarding house in Kalibo.
His death did not come as a surprise, like that of what happened to Nilo and Luing. They have trekked a road not frequently crossed by many people. They are hated by the government for showing the people the alternative choice of a government that we should have.
They are calling for genuine agrarian reform, national industrialization, rights of people to be respected, just wages for workers, land for the landless, housing programs for the urban poor, nationalist and liberating education for the youth, are just among the few demands that the government should have done years ago, but were continued to be denied for the fact that those sitting in the Congress and Malacanang are not the real representatives of the poor but belong to the class of collaborators, landlords and oppressors that can be traced back to the Spanish, American and Japanese colonization.
They were tagged as communist, their organizations as legal fronts, making it justifiable for the police and military elements to hunt them down like what they have been told to do against those who rise up in arms and joined the NPA and MILF against the government for the same demands stated above.
But one thing is certain. They are not combatants or have been engaged in terrorist activities. They are ordinary people who had choose to be the voice of the voiceless, and fight for the rights being trampled for so long but instead were meet by truncheons, and now bullets from the state that should be protecting the welfare not only of the wealthy and the few but to the general public especially to those who had been suffering oppression and exploitation for decades.
There is simply no justification for what happened to Nilo and Luing, and to my father. No excuses from the police and military, from the various government agencies that keep on telling us that the justice system will serve us well.
I have wished that my father’s death that had also fall as the first case of extrajudicial killing under the new administration of Noynoy Aquino, a son of a murdered politician, should be the last. But 15 more political killings happened in three months; two more persons were abducted and remain missing.
The fact shows that activist are regularly being hunted like criminals, monitored and spied by intelligence operatives, harassed and killed. Thousands have been murdered, hundreds have remain missing, trumped up charges filed against the militants and even to those who were not even members of the Left just because of their beliefs only aggravates my loss of fate that justice will be served to my Tatay, Nay Luing and Nong Nilo in the system that we have today.
The tears and anger in the eyes of the victims family that I have witnessed in a gathering in Manila made me realize that it is no longer a matter of just asking and calling for justice. I need to make a stand in fighting for what they have stand for, and join the rising ranks of those who have decided to trek the road rarely taken, that have been spilled by the bloods of the martyrs.
The killers have not also realized that by killing one, many others are angered by their death, the reason for a rising number of activists and even revolutionaries recruited for a cause. History speaks for itself that heighted political repression begets revolutionary violence – a widespread political upheaval that brings about a new society, new government that destroys and replaces the oppressive and corrupt state.
There is no justice and freedom in this present system the reason for its destruction is necessary. Only in a society that is represented by the people that have been oppressed and exploited will pave the way for the realization of a truly democratic and pro-people society with no more injustice and exploitation to speak of.