Thursday, September 13, 2007

A MOST UNHOLY WEEK

Like Rey, the eight other victims were also shot to death. Seven of them had broken skulls, their brains blown away. The lone woman, Rowena, 26, died when a bullet crashed into her head; she was believed to be pregnant.

By Roxanne Omega-DoronBulatlat.com

(Editor?s note: The author is the former national vice-chairperson for the Visayas and former chairperson for Cebu of Anakbayan. This is her personal account of the death of nine suspected NPA guerrillas in sitio Mahayahay, Kananga, Leyte, during the Holy Week.)

Last Easter Sunday, Jesus Christ resurrected after the entire Christian world celebrated the week-long agony of the Messiah. Last Easter Sunday, too, nine peasants were buried somewhere in the remote town of Kanangga, Leyte. They had been brutally shot to death by elements of the 19th Infantry Batallion, headed by Col. Oscar Lactao of the Philippine Army.

It had been both a holy and an unholy week for me.

I was having my yearly holy week vacation with my friends and relatives in Leyte when my comrades in Anakbayan-Eastern Visayas informed me through text that one of our members was killed on April 16, Holy Wednesday.

Rey Cortin, 13, an active member of Anakbayan-Kanangga, was shot by the soldiers and died on the spot; the bullet entered his armpit and went straight to his head. He had just graduated from elementary three days earlier.

Unlike Jesus Christ, Rey did not resurrect last Easter Sunday; he was buried that day. But his dreams for a just and democratic society did not die with him.

I cancelled my personal trips so I could join the fact-finding mission organized by the human-rights group Karapatan in Tacloban City and we proceeded to the area of incident. We walked for several hours, talked to the peasant community and embraced the hotness of the sun.
Like Rey, the eight other victims were also shot to death. Of the nine victims, seven had broken skulls, their brains blown away. The lone woman, Rowena, 26, died when a bullet crashed into her head; she was believed to be pregnant.

All of them were tortured, according to reliable witness accounts. Before the victims were killed, hot water was poured on their bodies, as evidenced by the scald marks on their corpses. Residents of Kanangga, after looking at the dead bodies, described the state of the corpses: “Murag gi-lapwaan nga baboy!” (They looked like scalded pigs!)

Witnesses said the victims cried and shouted to their tormentors: “Sir, tama na, sir!? (Please, sir, enough!)

The memory of every child, or a revolutionary for that matter, who died dreaming of a just society will forever linger in our hearts and minds. The masses, the people they tirelessly served and fought for, will cherish them the most. Surely, their passing will not douse the flame of the people’s struggle for national liberation and social emancipation. Rather, it will fan the flame for the peasants? and people?s outrage against a social system that has betrayed its own people. Bulatlat.com

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