JAVIER, Evelio B.

Evelio Javier was a bright, young politician who won as governor of his province under conditions of martial law. His political independence cost him his life.

Evelio studied at the Ateneo de Manila in high school and college. He became a student leader in college, becoming president of his college’s student council and athletic club. He was also a writer, a staff member of his high school paper and editor in chief of the student paper in law school.

He started out as faculty member at the Ateneo College of Law in Manila (1966 to 1971) then he went home to Antique to begin a political career. He was elected governor in 1971, at 29 one of the youngest governors ever in the country. He held the post up to 1980. In 1981 he went to Harvard University to take up a masters course in public administration at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.

He then returned to the Philippines and started his career as lawyer. In 1984, he ran for Batasan (martial law parliament) as representative of his province but lost to political opponent Arturo Pacifi cador. Evelio protested the election results.

Despite threats to his life, Jevelio served as provincial chair of the Unido Laban party during the 1986 snap presidential elections, campaigning for the Aquino- Laurel ticket. At the height of the vote-counting, Evelio had butted heads with leaders of the Marcos political party, the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL). The following day, Evelio was shot dead by hooded men in broad daylight and less than 100 meters from the provincial capitol where election returns were being canvassed and tallied. The fi rst volley wounded Evelio but he managed to run and seek refuge inside a nearby restaurant. The gunmen ran after him, and sprayed more bullets into him. Murder charges against political rival Pacifi cador and the suspected gunmen were fi led with the Ministry of Justice.

Provincemates mourned Javier’s death, following just three years after the assassination of the late Benigno Aquino Jr. who had once described Evelio as “the man who can lead the people of Antique out of the rot of poverty and offi cial corruption. Javier possess the qualifi cations of leadership which can lead Antiqueños into that new future…”

Evelio was given posthumous honors by the Ateneo de Manila University and the Unido Party for having “laid down his life in the quest for truth, freedom, justice and democracy.”

In September 1986, the Supreme Court nullifi ed Pacifi cador’s proclamation as Antique congressman. In 1995, Pacifi cador himself was arrested for Javier’s murder. However, the regional trial court in Antique acquitted Pacifi cador of the murder, saying the prosecution failed to establish his involvement beyond reasonable doubt.

Birth: 
October 31, 1942
Death: 
February 11, 1986
Place of Death: 
San Jose, Antique