Stronger Thomasian voice vs EJKs needed – human rights chief

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Commission on Human Rights Chairman Chito Gascon leads the unveiling ceremony of former senator Jose "Pepe" Diokno's statue in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law. Photo by Ma. Consuelo D.P. Marquez

COMMISSION on Human Rights Chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon on Thursday urged the Thomasian community to voice out stronger dissent against cases of extrajudicial killings in the country in ceremonies marking the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law.

“[Dapat] magkaroon ng isang pambansang dialogue ang pamunuan ng UST community o ng mga taong Simbahan kung paano ba natin titigilan ang violence. [Dapat] manawagan sila sa gobyerno upang ipatupad ang law and order pero sa isang paraan na kinikilala ang karapatan ng lahat,” Gascon told the Varsitarian in an interview.

Gascon led the unveiling ceremony of the statue of former senator Jose “Pepe” Diokno, an alumnus of the UST Faculty of Civil Law who was the commission’s first chairman, on Sept. 21.

Diokno was among several opposition figures and journalists arrested when the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972.

After his release in 1974, he led the Free Legal Assistance Group, which offered legal counsel to political prisoners and victims of the Marcos regime.

Gascon said the statue, named “The Defiant Diokno,” should remind young people of Diokno’s example when he fought the Marcos dictatorship.

“[This] is a place where you can speak, organize to fight for what is right and just and to prevent any vestige of tyranny from ever returning in the country,” he said in his speech.

Diokno studied law in UST before World War 2 but was not able to finish the program. Still, he was allowed to take the bar exams.

‘Honor Thomasian Martial Law victims’

Mars Mendoza, a UST journalism alumna, called on student leaders and University officials on Sept. 19 to erect a monument honoring Thomasian martyrs during the Marcos dictatorship.

“[The monument should] be a program of the student councils. May mga arkitekto [sa UST who] can come up with a design. It can be a small space to acknowledge yung service ng studentry,” Mendoza told the Varsitarian.

Mendoza said research must be launched to include the names of Thomasians who were victims of Martial Law.

Cristina Rodriguez, executive director of Bantayog ng mga Bayani Memorial Foundation, said students should conduct research to remember the real heroes during the Marcos regime.

“Importante na makilala natin kung sino ang ating mga bayani at kung sino ang nagbigay ng kanilang mga buhay para hindi tayo nakalublob sa pang-aapi,” Rodriguez said in a forum last Sept. 19 in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law.

The Bantayog ng mga Bayani Memorial Center, a monument in Quezon City dedicated to Martial Law martyrs, recorded 44 deaths under the age group of 21 to 30 and 6 deaths under the age group of 15 to 20 during the Marcos dictatorship.

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