Unity Statement of Writers, Artists and Journalists
We are writers, artists and journalists. Our work thrives on the freedom of expression and of the press–which is among the foundations of any democracy.
History shows that the curtailment of freedom of expression and of the press is among the first steps taken by would-be dictators. It is no small wonder then that writers, artists and journalists have historically been among the fiercest opponents of authoritarianism.
On February 25, 1986, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was ousted after three days of what has come to be known as the EDSA I uprising.
The struggle against the dictatorship, however, was not just three days. EDSA I was the culmination of more than a decade of anti-dictatorship struggle by the Filipino people, which took several forms at various times.
Among the key figures in the fight against the Marcos dictatorship were many of our fellow writers, artists and journalists–the likes of Romulo “Mulong” Sandoval, Lino Brocka, and
Armando Malay to name just a few.
At this point in our country’s often-turbulent history, we are compelled to revisit the struggle for democracy waged by those who came before us, because the gains of that battle–which greatly benefited us–are now under attack.
This manifests, among other things, in the April 28, 2007 abduction of Jonas Joseph Burgos–son of the late press freedom hero Jose “Joe” Burgos, Jr.–in Quezon City by armed men. He was snatched while having lunch at Hapag Kainan Restaurant at Ever Gotesco-Commonwealth and dragged into a van with plate number TAB 194. He has not been seen since then.
Jonas is an agriculturist who teaches organic farming methods to peasants in Bulacan. The van with plate number TAB 194 had been impounded for some time at the headquarters of the Philippine Army’s 56th Infantry Battalion–which is based in Norzagaray, Bulacan–after being confiscated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in anti-logging operations.
Jonas is not the first to fall victim to enforced disappearances. With 199 victims having been
documented since 2001, he is the 16th victim this year alone.
The enforced disappearances are taking place alongside extrajudicial killings, now numbering more than 800 since 2001.
The victims were known in their communities as government critics. A good number were confirmed to have been active in cause-oriented groups, while the rest were not affiliated with any political organization. In several of the cases, state forces have been identified as the perpetrators.
The recent passage of an Anti-Terrorism Bill that defines terrorism so vaguely that even publishing or producing works with the slightest criticism of the government may be construed as a “terorristic” act should concern all who value the freedom of expression and of the press.
We are indeed at a dark chapter in our country’s history. We urge our fellow writers, artists and journalists to join us in keeping vigil and tearing the curtain of darkness in this night of
Alex T. Magno
Anna Isabelle Matutina
Ares P. Gutierrez
Arnold M. Azurin
Atty. Joel Ruiz Butuyan
Ava Fuertes Danlog
Darby E. Santiago, MD
Ederic P. Eder
Elmer A. Ordonez
Gil Casia Rustum
Hilarion “Larry” M. Henares Jr.
Imelda M. Aznar
James Andrew Panahon Obejas
Janie Christine F. Octia
Jennifer Anne Mendoza
Jonathan L Cellona.
Jose F. Lacaba
Julie L. Po
Jun Cruz Reyes
Karl Fredrick M. Castro
Kenneth Roland A. Guda
Lady Ann Salem
Leonard D. Reyes
Lourd de Veyra
Ma. Theresa Pagdanganan
Mandia Joe Benedict
Manuel L Quezon III.
Melissa Federis Trina
Nicolas B. Pichay
NiÃ±o D. Tagaro
Noel Sales Barcelona
Ricky de Guzman
Luv Gaerlan Nogoy
Myra “Skarlet” Romer
Raquel de Loyola
Rene de Guzman
Resty S. Odon
Sherrizah Aiath B. Maclit
Sonny E. Fernandez
Call for signatures
The Free Jonas Burgos Movement (FJBM) calls on all our colleagues in the art and writers circle to manifest their support in our call to the AFP, PNP and the GMA government to double their effort in locating Jonas Joseph Burgos, son of late press freedom icon Jose “Joe” T. Burgos, who was forcedfully abducted last April 28, 2007 at the Ever Gotesco Commonwealth in Quezon City.
We are humbly soliciting your signatures in support of our call to surface Jonas and all desaparecidos and demand justice for all the victims of human rights violations of the current and previous government in our country.
We are hopeful that we would be in unison in this call. Every name counts. You count.
Please send your name at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information call 4546468
Free Jonas Burgos. Free all Desaparecidos.