At 12:25 yesterday afternoon I was suddenly awaken by the loud ringing of my mobile phone. I picked up the damned phone and asked grumblingly who the caller was. It was Elaine. What happened next was a blur. I only recalled snippets of our conversation, all I know was i kept on cursing.
me: natutulog ako!
elaine: kaya ako tumawag kasi....ano...may pinatay na pandayan sa negros
me: huh?! tangina! bakit?
elaine: TFM organizer...si rico.
me: tangina talaga
I'm not sure if i've met Rico. I tried to recall the names and faces of kahanays from the regions but I can not remember him. Elaine said Rico was a new kahanay. She said Rico, who was a peasant organizer in Negros, was shot in front of his wife. He also left behind three of four small children. Tangina talaga nila. I felt anger swelling within me. Yes, I did not know Rico personally but he was a kahanay. He was just doing his job so that the farmers can own the lands they have been working on for generations. Wala siyang kalaban-laban.
According to Nante, Rico's buddy in TFM, the men who shot Rico were hired guns. The police authorities are now eyeing the landowners as suspects. Two years ago, a 60-year old woman farmer from Negros, an agrarian reform beneficiary from the same area, was also gunned down. Is murder a public policy now? Are we back to the dark days of the Marcos dictatorship when thousands of activists and human rights workers were hunted down and killed? Parang hindi nangyari ang EDSA.
So far, 30 activists have been killed since last year. Sino naman ang susunod? Are we going to let this government to continue to trample on our rights? When will the majority of Filipinos realize that enough is enough?
"First they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I was not a Jew.
First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak out because I was not a Communist.
First they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me, and there was no one left to speak for me."
- Pastor Niemoller