Marcos-Era Massacres You Might Not Have Learned About in School
Feb 25, 2021   •   Cristina Morales
8List.ph is published by ID8, Inc.
Feb 25, 2021   •   Cristina Morales
As we move further and further away from the 1986 EDSA Revolution that ended it, it becomes easier to forget — or worse, brush away — the atrocities that took place during the Marcos regime. According to Amnesty International, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, and other human monitoring groups, the Marcos dictatorship was responsible for over 3,200 known extrajudicial killings.
According to the Bantayog ng mga Bayani foundation, the Marcos regime has been associated with some 900 massacres. These massacres were carried out by military and paramilitary forces, usually to instill fear on communities who were speaking up about certain issues. Here are just some of them.
When: December 19, 1981
Where: Culasi, Antique
A group of protestors from upland barangays marched to town to ask then-Mayor Romulo Alpas to stop taxing the goods they were selling in town. There were about 500 men, women, and children from six barangays. As they marched, they were stopped by constabulary men and soldiers, who asked them who their leader was. The protestors merely said that they were all leaders.
At Bacong Bridge — about two kilometers away from the town hall — they were stopped again by soldiers, who had built a bamboo barricade on the bridge. The soldiers told the protestors to stop or be killed. Some protestors in front moved closer to the barricade to get it out of the way, and shots were fired. The protest quickly dispersed, with some marchers jumping off the bridge and hiding in the rice paddies. Five died.[Source]
When: March 18, 1968
Where: Corregidor, Bataan
27 Muslim youth were brought to Corregidor island to train in preparation for an alleged top-secret plan of the Marcos administration to invade Sabah in Malaysia. The youths were promised a monthly allowance, but after two months, they hadn’t received anything. They wrote a petition to air their grievances, but before dawn on March 18, 1968, the training officers opened fire on them on the Corregidor airstrip. Only one — Jibin Arula — survived to tell the story. It was this massacre that inspired Nur Misuari — then a political science professor at the University of the Philippines — to establish the Moro National Liberation Front.[Source]
When: June 14, 1982
Where: Daet, Camarines Norte
Shortly after Proclamation No. 2045 (which supposedly lifted Martial Law from the Philippines), thousands of protestors were marching to denounce the “fake elections” and the Coco Levy Fund Scam. They were also demanding an increase in copra prices. Soldiers opened fire on the protestors. At least 50 were injured and four died on the spot.[Sources: 1, 2]
When: September 20, 1985
Where: Escalante City, Negros Occidental
Death toll: 20
It was the 13th anniversary of martial law, and thousands of protestors had gathered at Escalante Public Plaza — just 50 meters across the town hall. Surrounding the protestors were 50 armed personnel from the Regional Special Action Forces (RSAF), as well as some local policemen, members of the Civilian Home Defense Force (CHDF), and armed civilians. After the town mayor Braulio Lumayno and former congressman Armando Gustilo left the town hall, the armed personnel opened fire on the protestors. 20 died and 30 were wounded.
Though three low-ranking policemen were jailed for their role in the massacre (they were released in 2003), one ranking police officer in command of the RSAF was redeployed and later promoted to the rank of senior superintendent. No local officials and dignitaries were summoned for investigation or trial. None of the victims’ families have been compensated for their loss.[Source]
When: August 24, 1981
Where: Tudela, Misamis Occidental
It was 9 p.m. when members of Rock Christ, a pseudo-religious paramilitary group, strafed the house of Tingol Gumapon. Three families made up of 14 of Tingol Gumapon’s relatives were staying at the house, and later, 10 bodies — including an infant — were found in a nearby shallow mass grave.[Source]
When: September 15, 1981
Where: Las Navas, Northern Samar
It was early morning, and most of the residents of the rural barrio of Sag-od were still asleep when shouts from a Special Forces-ICHDF team ordered them to assemble for a meeting. The residents were ordered to form two lines: one for women and children, another for men. While the men remained in the barrio, the women and children were led to a river. As they made their way from the barrio, the women and children heard gunfire from the barrio — shots that killed all the men who had responded to the armed personnel.
They were later questioned about the whereabouts of a “Kumander Racel”, a supposed NPA commander. The women did not know what the captors were talking about. They were ordered to separate from their children. Some children refused, and others started to cry. Immediately, the SF-ICHDF opened fire on the women and children. Some survived by playing dead, but most — including infants — were killed. According to some survivor accounts, the surviving children were told by the SF-ICHDF to blame their parents’ death on the NPA.
Almost the entire barrio of Sag-od was wiped out, save for the massacre’s few survivors and some residents who weren’t informed of the SF-ICHDF’s “meeting”.
Later investigations found that 70 SF-ICHDF men were ordered by the San Jose Timber Corporation to address the presence of the NPA. At the time, San Jose Timber was owned by Juan Ponce Enrile, but his involvement in the incident has not been confirmed.[Source]
When: March 23, 1982
Where: Hinunangan, Southern Leyte
We don’t have many details about the massacre in the remote barrio of Masaymon, Hinunangan. Eight victims were killed — six of which were 3-18 years old. One mother identified troopers of the 347th PC company — allegedly led by Major Asilo Vilbar — as the perpetrators.[Source]
When: April 1985
Where: Roxas, Zamboanga
A week before Tullio Favali was killed, eight members of his parish — including a three-year-old child — were murdered. This massacre was never investigated.
Tullio Favali was an Italian priest who had been ministering in North Cotabato and Zamboanga for less than a year. He was the first foreign missionary killed by the martial law’s paramilitary forces.
On April 11, 1985, Favali was called by the townspeople of Tulunan, North Cotabato for help after brothers Edilberto, Norberto, and Elpidio Manero — members of the paramilitary Ilaga group — shot the town’s tailor. The brothers set Favali’s motorcycle on fire and shot the priest point-blank. They then kicked the priest’s body in the head, shot it in the face, and picked at the body’s brains.
Public outcry from the local and international community forced martial authorities to arrest the Manero brothers after several months passed. Seven individuals were convicted for Favali’s murder, yet many of them continued to be seen in public. In 1999, President Joseph Estrada granted Norberto pardon, but due to the overwhelming public backlash, Estrada had to withdraw the pardon.[Sources: 1, 2]
These are just 8 of over 900 massacres that have been attributed to the Marcos regime. #NeverForget
Though a chronic dabbler in whatever tickles her fancy, Cristina claims she can count her passions on one hand: feminism, literature, the environment, embroidery, and the power of a solid pop song. She lives in Uniqlo lounge pants and refuses to leave the house without a winged eye.
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