Baliksambayanan: Day 1, "You are surrounded by Victims."

Cross-posted from The Mustard Seed.

Latter on when I got back to the BAYAN office, after the noise barrage (and after having lunch with the Secretary-General of Bayan, Nato Reyes, in where I had a soft drink, rice, curry chicken, and a banana for P85; that’s US$1.77 !), there was a lot of activity in the anticipation that a political prisoner would be released that night from jail.

As I stated in the previous post she wasn’t released that night, but was released latter due to pressure on the government inside the prison (form the prisoners) and outside the prison.

As people were preparing to take off toward the jail (we were on the bottom floor, an open area beneath the four story Bayan building and enclosed by a large gate) I saw a young man walk in with the cutest damned baby you ever saw (she was only around six months old and had chubby cheeks). As we were introduced and after acting like a fool around the baby (you know how it is, all talking in a squeaky voice and such) I was told by one of the Bayan officers that the father of the child had actually been captured by the military and was heavily tortured during his one year of capture. They had accused him of being a communist and a member of the New People’s Army (the communist guerrilla insurgency). He was able to escape from the place and later ended up going to the UN and successfully petitioned the Court of Appeals in the Philippines for a Writ of Amparo (which forces the government to give protection to a person seeking the Writ of Amparo).

After talking to the father for a bit the same officer pointed to the security guard (an unarmed man wearing no uniform who mainly watches the gate and lets people in or keeps folks out) and said, “He lost his father under Marcos.”

Then she pointed to someone else and said, “Her daughter disappeared under [the current president] Arroyo even though [her daughter] wasn’t an activist.”

She then turned to me and said, “So you are surrounded by victims, torture victims, and people on hit lists.” She too is on a hit list as well. Obviously, I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed.

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