UP marked the first UP Day of Remembrance by concretizing plans to construct the country’s memorial for victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime.
UP President Danilo L. Concepcion signed on September 21, 2018 a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission (HRVVMC) formalizing institutional partnership in establishing the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial in UP Diliman.
“Higit sa alinmang pook, dito sa ating pamantasan sumibol at lumago ang puno ng pagtutol at pag-aalsa; kung kaya dito rin naman nadama ang mabigat na dagok ng panunupil at pananamantala noong panahon ng martial law ni Pangulong Marcos (More than any place, the University is where resistance and uprising sprang and grew; and that is why this was also where the brunt of repression and abuse of President Marcos’s martial law fell),” Concepcion said.
Sa araw na ito tayo ay nagpapasya na ikintal sa puso at damdamin ang dakilang alaala ng mga araw ng pakikibaka, ng mga taong nagsakripisyo at nagbuwis ng buhay, upang ito kailanman ay hindi malimutan at hindi na maulit pa (On this day, we decide to commit the legacy of the days of struggle, of the many who sacrificed their lives; so that they will never be forgotten and [their fates] never repeated),” Concepcion added. “Ito ang ating dasal, ito ang ating banal na panata (This is our prayer, this is our sacred promise),” he added.
Four days before the MOU signing, Concepcion signed a proclamation designating September 21, 2018 and September 21 of every year thereafter as “UP Day of Remembrance” in honor of the sacrifice of the University’s “best and brightest” for the struggle against dictatorship and despotism, many of whom died resisting the abuses of the Marcos regime. [Watch the proclamation signing.]
During the First Quarter Storm, UP being a bastion of academic freedom became a sanctuary for activism, with the AS (Arts and Sciences now Palma Hall) Steps—the venue of the MOU signing—becoming default venue and assembly area for rallies and demonstrations.
Witness to the MOU signing and representing HRVVs, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Chair Carol Araullo quoted former Faculty Regent and anti-martial law activist Judy Taguiwalo in the latter’s UP Day of Remembrance proclamation speech, which spoke about 3,257 killed, 35,000 tortured, 1,838 disappeared, and 70,000 imprisoned during the Marcos regime. The Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation has thus far listed 85 martyrs of the Marcos regime from UP.
“This is a historic day that is a legacy of President Danilo Concepcion. If in my student days, we had Salvador P. Lopez who stood against the emerging Marcos dictatorship, we now have President Concepcion to thank for this step of remembering… which is important in weeding out the root causes and pre-conditions of martial law that remain to this day,” Araullo said in Filipino.
Signing for the HRVVMC were its co-chairs Jose Luis Martin “Chito” Gascon of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), represented by CHR Commissioner Leah Armamento, and Rene Escalante of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP). Established in 2013, HRVVMC was created for the “establishment, restoration, preservation and conservation of the Memorial/Museum/Library/Compendium in honor of the HRVVs during the Marcos regime.”
“The CHR looks forward to deepening partnership with the University community in developing different programs in the field of transitional justice and human rights, and commits itself to participating in an inclusive process of interacting with all stakeholders—both in and outside the University—of these will begin a broad cross-sectoral consultation on the vision for this freedom memorial,” Gascon’s message said.
Escalante revealed the NHCP holding talks with the Concepcion administration as early as last year for a place to build the HRVV memorial. Some of the documents lined up for the memorial are the Netherlands documents being kept by the UP Library, Presidential Commission on Good Government digital copy files kept by the NHCP, and documents from the HRV Claims Board.
Escalante revealed targets to have the memorandum of agreement with UP finalized in the next three months, conduct a design competition for the memorial, have the groundbreaking in the middle of next year, and the construction finished two years after.
Aside from Araullo, contingents from various sectors of the UP community, and organizations representing HRVVs, the MOU signing was also witnessed by Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III. Pimentel has recently authored a bill to extend the term of and provide additional support to the HRV Claims Board. The HRVCB and HRVVMC were established under Republic Act No. 10368, otherwise known as “An Act Providing for Reparation and Recognition of Victims of Human Rights Violations during the Marcos Regime, Documentation of Said Violation, Appropriating Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes,” which President Benigno Aquino III signed on February 25, 2013.
“Thanks to UP for offering a place in the University so we can fulfill the mandate under the law to establish a memorial, a physical place, that can be visited by the old and especially the young so that we do not forget the excesses, violence, the evils, abuses, and repressions during the Marcos martial law years,” Pimentel said.
After the MOU signing, the public was invited to view the exhibit “Alaala ng Martial Law” in the Palma Hall lobby, as various organizations began converging in the premises to head for a rally in Luneta later that afternoon commemorating the declaration of martial law by Marcos. (Jo. Lontoc, UP MPRO)