MAGLANTAY, Rizaldy Jesus M.

In college, Rizaldy Maglantay was a student leader at the National College of Business Administration in Manila. After that he found an office job at a multinational corporation, which would have meant stable employment and a “normal” life.

But it was martial law, and Maglantay knew that life could not be “normal,” especially after a close friend, Diore Mijares, was summarily executed by military personnel in April 1983. Summoned by his conscience, Magpantay quit his job in Manila in order to serve as a volunteer for Task Force Detainees in his home province of Aklan.

For the next two years, Maglantay documented human rights abuses and assisted political prisoners despite minimal wages and, especially, the grave risks involved in human rights work. As far as he could see, he said, there was no democracy in the Philippines and human rights did not exist. He decried the widespread torture, arbitrary arrests, “salvaging” (extrajudicial killings) hamletting, etc., saying: “If I don’t do something, who will explain all this to the people here?”

Shortly before he was killed, Maglantay had ignored an “invitation” for questioning by the commanding officer of the constabulary based in Abago, lbajay, Aklan. On the night of August 2, 1985, however, he agreed to go drinking with an acquaintance whom he knew to be in the military. The two were seen in a beerhouse talking until late that night.

Maglantay was found dead early the following morning inside the grounds of an elementary school. His body had 30 stab wounds and other marks of torture. The man who had been with him, a PC corporal, left Kalibo for the province of Iloilo just hours earlier.

The human rights community in the Philippines angrily denounced the crime, leading Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, then vice chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to order an investigation. The case has not been solved.