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Martial law victim at SF protest recounts trauma

Rommel Conclara | TFC News San Francisco

Posted at Sep 22 2022 08:35 AM

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A crowd of over a hundred people gathered outside the Philippine Consulate General in San Francisco, protesting the US visit of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

They also commemorated the 50th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by his father, former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., as a way to tell him that the atrocities of the past will not be easily forgotten.

"I think it is sending a message to him. I think it’s showing that the Filipino people haven't forgotten what happened under his father and are very critical. We’re not just accepting what narratives are being pushing through disinformation, through faulty textbooks. It shows the Filipino people are remaining vigilant against the current government," Justher Gutierrez of Malaya Norcal.

Martial law survivor Benji Pineda was a student activist in the Philippines protesting the Marcos regime when he was incarcerated by the police.

"Those two and a half years have been taken away from me. I lost those," Pineda shared.

Pineda said while imprisoned but not tortured, he drew strength from the eventual People Power Revolution.

"We were able to endure two and a half years of imprisonment under the knowledge that we took the correct option against the dictatorship. And that there are a lot of people out there in the cities or even the provinces supporting us and who are continuing the fight against the dictatorship."

Meanwhile, San Francisco native Brandon Lee is still paralyzed from the chest down after being gunned down in 2019 in a suspected extrajudicial assassination attempt by the Philippine government for his activism of defending the indigenous communities of Ifugao province.

He fears that more will share his fate under President Marcos.

"He’s continuing the human rights violations and he even glorifies his father’s martial law. He has no remorse. He wants to continue the plunder of the Philippines and have a partnership with the US. That’s why we’re saying to cut US military funds to the Philippines," Lee said.

A vigil was also held, where the names of martial law victims were read out loud and remembered as heroes of the revolution.

Pineda said he is hopeful that this new generation of leaders will continue to fight for the truth, adding that it's proof their efforts 50 years ago did not go to waste.