(The following is the message prepared by the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan in commemoration of the 110th birth anniversary yesterday of Lorenzo Tañada, the founding chairman of the group and considered the “Grand Old Man” of Philippine Politics. Text downloaded from PinoyPress.net)
The Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) joins the Tañada family and freedom-fighters nationwide in celebrating Ka Tanny’s 110th birth anniversary.
We celebrate Ka Tanny’s life by sharing with the Filipino people, especially the youth, the legacy of Bayan’s founding chair, and our Great Grand Old Man of Philippine Politics.
Ka Tanny earned the distinction of being the longest-serving senator in Philippine history. From 1947, he served as a member of the Senate for 24 years. But more importantly, it was outside the halls of the Senate that he gained distinction as one of the greatest leading and uniting figure in the “parliament of the streets.”
Ka Tanny’s name became synonymous with Freedom, Justice and Democracy as he stood at the forefront of the struggle against widespread poverty and inequality, corruption and tyranny, from the period he founded the Movement for the Advancement of Nationalism (MAN) up to the height of the anti-dictatorship struggle. Ka Tanny became one of the greatest enemies of the US-backed Marcos dictatorship. He organized the Anti-Bases Coalition and other groups that rallied public opposition to the presence of US troops in the Philippines.
In 1983, after Ninoy Aquino’s assassination, Ka Tanny became a leading personality of JAJA (Justice for Aquino, Justice for All). Earlier, he was also a leading figure in the formation of the People’s Movement for Independence, Nationalism and Democracy and the National Coalition for the Protection of Workers’ Rights.
When Ka Bert Olalia, Ka Crispin Beltran and other militant labor leaders were arrested, Ka Tanny was a loud voice in condemning the brutal attacks on trade unions. He was the first ever politician allowed to speak before a big demonstration of the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU).
A year before the founding assembly of Bayan, he also led the formation of NAJFD (Nationalist Alliance for Justice, Freedom and Democracy). In 1985, the historic founding of Bayan, Ka Tanny became our founding Chairman.
Ka Tanny attended meetings and preparations of Bayan for the huge rallies that were often met with fascist force. As he arrives in a wheelchair pushed by Bayan secretary general Lean Alejandro, he would always be welcomed with warm smiles and applause. Ka Tanny would listen intently to the planning sessions and then he would lean forward and comment on the formations and conduct of the mobilizations. With Ka Tanny at the front line, there was always a feeling of assurance among the rallyists that even though the rally would be dispersed, there would be a Ka Tanny who would raise his mighty voice against such violence.
In spite of his advanced years, Ka Tanny is best remembered by Bayan as the distinguished parliamentarian who was at home in the streets.
Ka Tanny led Bayan Cental Luzon (CL) and Bayan national leaders and forces in the renowned Welgang Bayan against Marcos’ plan to build a nuclear plant in Bataan. Bayan and its allied organizations conducted several waves of campaigns to enlighten and rally the public against the nuclear plant. When Bayan CL decided to call for a welgang bayan, Ka Tanny went to Pampanga and there, despite being in his wheel chair, together with all the Bayan forces, stood in the middle of the street to protest. That day, no vehicles could be seen plying in the busy streets of Pampanga because everybody heeded the call for a massive strike.
Due to differences regarding the 1986 snap presidential elections, Ka Tanny took a leave of absence from Bayan as he opted to participate in the elections. When Gen. Fidel Ramos and company made their move against the Marcos dictatorship, Ka Tanny immediately resumed his leadership in Bayan and started mobilizing forces for the EDSA 1 People Power uprising.
Ka Tanny, who had been undergoing kidney dialysis, finally rested in 1992 at the age of 93.
It is well known that on the day of his dialysis, Ka Tanny chose to attend the September 16, 1991 Senate deliberations on the extension of the US-RP Military Bases Treaty. After the historic vote against the rejection of the treaty, Ka Tanny, stood up and shouted as loudly as he could, “Mabuhay.”
Just a few years later, the Senate ratification of the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement betrayed one of Ka Tanny’s greatest victories against US intervention. Ka Tanny would have been at the forefront in opposing the VFA and all other unjust policies of the current US puppet.
Present-day politicians should emulate the brilliant example of Ka Tanny and his brand of nationalism and tireless engagement in the people’s anti-fascist and anti-imperialist struggle.
Under present conditions of ever worsening poverty and inequality brought by a corrupt government that is subservient to US economic, military and geo-political interests, we celebrate Ka Tanny’s life by rallying Bayan and the Filipino people to continue his battle. Present-day activists, especially the youth, can gain inspiration from Ka Tanny who loved and served the people to his very last breath.
Today, we also remember another birthday celebrant, Ma. Luisa ‘Luing’ Posa Dominado, a human rights activist who shares the passion of Ka Tanny in standing up for freedom, justice and democracy. Ka Luing was imprisoned four times under the Marcos dictatorship. It has been one year and four months since the abduction of Luing and peasant activist Nilo Arado by three armed men in Iloilo on April 12, 2007.
Surely, Ka Tanny would have been at the forefront of Bayan rallies to demand justice for the hundreds of victims of extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances and all forms of human rights abuses under the Arroyo watch.
Ka Tanny is sorely missed. But he remains alive and well, strong and unbending, in the multitude of patriotic and freedom-loving Filipinos today who continue to fight for genuine democracy, freedom and social justice.
Mabuhay ang dakilang alaala ni Ka Tanny!
Isulong ang pakikibaka para tunay na kalayaan, katarungan at pambansang demokrasya!
Dr. Carol Pagaduan-Araullo
Renato M. Reyes, Jr.
Chairperson Secretary General