March 20, 2006
Hindi kita masisisi. Sa mga panahong tulad ng sa atin, safe ang anonymity.
You’re probably, what,12, 18, 24, 30 years old? Or a fresh, vibrant, youthful 20 like Cris Hugo.
You sound like a lawyer, a professor, a bum? Or maybe you’re a 4th year journalism student like Cris Hugo.
I imagine you to be a film buff, or a nerd, maybe? Or you probably love to now and then tinker with your guitar like Cris Hugo.
I sometimes like to humor myself and wonder how you would look like. Tall and dark? Pink and petite? Do you smile with your eyes, like Cris Hugo.
But you’re not Cris Hugo, and so you live to pluck a melody or two in your guitar. You hide behind anonymity, duwag at pinipiling magkubli. And so you get to live another day.
Not Cris Hugo. He did not go nameless, not for one day. Cris Hugo is now dead, because he dared.
Cris Hugo was a 20-year-old activist leader from Bicol. Last night, he was shot three times in the back. Only a coward would do that. He was declared dead on arrival when he reached the hospital.
He was a 4th year journalism student at the Bicol University. I don’t really know when he turned 20. When I met him at the Anakbayan National Council meeting held in Bicol, he was probably only 19. That was only last November. He was so alive then, always eager to help, learn, participate.
I remember he loved to play the guitar. He would wait patiently for whoever was playing the guitar to finish and then he would play a song or two. He may not have known it but we realized that he was very self-conscious about it. He would peek at us to see if we were listening. To see if we heard him play and sing. Funny, when we finally asked him to sing for us in the cultural night, he refused and acted as if he had nothing to do with performing. He was just a kid, really.
But he was dead-serious with his convictions. He did a damn good job with it, too. Otherwise, those cowards who killed him wouldn’t have been so threatened. He was a National Council member and regional coordinator of the League of Filipino Students when he died. He was a youth activist leader, a freedom fighter, democracy defender.
The last time I saw him alive was when he accompanied us to the bus station on our way back here to Manila. He was concerned with our safety. He told us to always look out for suspicious persons, elements of the military. We didn’t really take his admonition seriously. We figured, praning lang siya. We were after all among dozens of passengers, in broad daylight.
How I wish now that Cris had taken his own caution to heart on the fateful night he was brutally killed. He was so young, he was on his way home from a school outing. He was walking with his professor when they shot him.
The Philippine National Police were quick to dismiss allegations that the killing was politically-motivated. They even had the gall to suspect the professor he was with. Marami raw inconsistencies ang testimonies nung professor. To hell with them. If I were the professor, I would probably be shocked senseless too and blabber on incoherently.
They did their research too. They were quick to suggest that the killing was in all probability frat-related. Cris was also the newly-elected Grand Chancellor of Alpha Phi Omega-Bicol University chapter. But friends and comrades attest that he had no enemies at all. No one would wish him dead.
Or only one. Cris was the 33rd victim of extra-judicial killings perpetrated by suspected elements of the military for this year alone. He was the third leader of a militant organization to be killed in the province of Albay and the 77th documented victim in Bicol under the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo administration.
For this week alone, Cris was the 3rd victim of extra-judicial killings in the regions, ironically, barely a month after the lifting of PP 1017. First was Ka Santi Teodoro, chairperson of the BAYAN chapter in Malolos, Bulacan. A day before Cris was killed, Tirso Cruz, director of the United Luisita Workers’ Union (ULWU) was shot dead in Tarlac by elements of the military. And even after barely a day of mourning Cris’ death, a peasant couple and their son were ambushed in Central Luzon. Amante Abelon, Anakpawis coordinator and vice chairperson of the Alyansa ng Magbubukid sa Gitnang Luzon (AMGL-KMP), remains in critical condition. His wife Agnes and five-year-old son Elvin John are now dead.
The list goes on.
And even as our campaign to defend our Batasan Five legislators and for Ka Bel’s freedom continues, more and more fall victim to political repression and harassment.
Last Friday, Raunil Mortejo, Anakbayan-Davao City chairperson, was abducted by suspected elements of the Isapf. He was released an hour later after rigorous interrogation on his fellow activists’ whereabouts.
The reason: one of his comrades, Lorie Ann Cascaro, Anakbayan’s National Council member and Vice Chairperson for Mindanao, was charged with seven others after being implicated as conspirators in inciting to sedition and rebellion cases filed against Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador.
The list goes on.
Anyone is vulnerable to warrantless arrests, political prosecution and, yes, even extrajudicial killings by the Arroyo administration. Those implicated in the baseless infamous arrest list released by the government earlier; or those pin-pointed by that modern day Makapili; or those who, simply, dare to stand up to ‘the powers that be’ – they can range from Arroyo’s most ardent political foes to the most unsuspecting ordinary bystander.
It’s not so safe to be anonymous after all. ###
i was supposed to post Cris’ foto, taken after he was killed. he looked as if he was just sleeping. but i couldn’t get myself to look at him like that anymore, sleeping or not. i hope our friends from bicol could send us a foto of the Cris we knew…and the Cris we wish to remember.
also posted at the young radicals blog