LAGUERDER, Edwin

Laguerder, edwin C. picUban niini nga gula sa Budyong, among ipadayag ang among pagbangutan sa kamatayan ni Edwin C. Laguerder, usa ka batan-on nga gidagit kaniadtong Nobyembre 26, 1987, ug nakit-ang patay sa Disyembre 7, 1987. Hinaut nga ang ilang kinabuhi, pakigbisog ug pakighiusa sa kinabag-ang katawhang Pilipino ug sa tanang gidaug-daug nga katawhan, kagsilbi nga madasigong pahanumdum ug ehemplo kanatong tanan nga ipadayon ang pakigbisog alang sa kalingkawasan sa mga mag-uugma ug katawhang Pilipino.

Little is known of Edwin’s childhood. He is remembered as a generally quiet boy, but bright. He graduated from grade school with the highest honors and for college, he passed the competitive entrance tests to the University of the Philippines, and three scholarship examinations, including the highly-competitive National Science Development Board (NSDB) exams.

His political awareness started as member of the Pi Sigma fraternity in UP, becoming so engrossed with these activities he neglected his studies and soon lost his scholarship privileges. Without funds to sustain him, and upon the urging of his widowed mother, Edwin went back home. He subsequently enrolled at the Notre Dame of Marbel College.

Still, he pursued his involvement in the anti-dictatorship movement, at this time rising to greater heights. Rallies and demonstrations were becoming ever more frequent and daring, even as the dictatorship grew more reckless with its abuses against the population. Edwin left school altogether to do fulltime social political work, and choosing jobs that gave him a chance to put in practice his cherished principles.

His first job was as coordinator of the Integrated Youth Development Program (IYDP) in Mindanao, supervising projects for the youth, covering the areas of Davao and Cagayan de Oro cities, as well as rural youth from South Cotabato, Agusan and Iligan. Then in 1985, he started work as Mindanao coordinator of the People’s Ecumenical Action for Community Enlightenment (PEACE) Foundation, and simultaneously also became involved as consultant and adviser for the Consortium for Rural Services and Programs (CRSP) of Mindanao, a service institution for farmers.

He chose these jobs because they gave him opportunities to work with and organize young people, raise their awareness, and help provide them social and political training. Later on, he chose to work with farmers, especially the poor and landless, supporting an advocacy for agrarian reform and seeking to uplift the farmers’ plight.

As he went about these tasks, he was also performing clandestine work fighting the dictatorship, leading a double life that put him always at risk. Nevertheless he calmly filled his days with his manifold tasks, convinced that democracy, peace and justice was a future worth fighting for.

When militarization did not ease in Mindanao after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, Edwin began to doubt that the situation had changed for the better, although he continued to hope for a more peaceful and promising future.

On the week of his death, he had a speaking engagement scheduled in Butuan City and another meeting in Manila. Witnesses saw him picked up by the police at a checkpoint in the Sasa district of Davao City. Witnesses heard him urgently crying out a series of telephone numbers (to the crowd gathered nearby). He was later seen moved into a military vehicle with four soldiers and then taken away.

When he failed to return home, relatives and friends, frantic for his safety, looked for him, demanding that the police produce him, even paying spaces in newspapers in search of clues. Some ten days later, Edwin’s body was fished out of the Sasa wharf. It had torture marks, as well as gunshot and stab wounds. His legs were tied with rope, and his skull and part of his ribs were cracked. The body’s state of decomposition indicated Edwin was killed one or two days after his abduction. He was 26 years old.

Edwin’s friends condemned the military’s treatment of Edwin and demanded justice. They launched protest activities to mark his death and launched a protest action at his funeral, attended by around 1,000 people. Edwin’s case was later submitted before the Commission on Human Rights.