Immanuel Obispo was an honor student from elementary school to college. A scholar at De La Salle University, where he was a third-year biology major (“a brilliant student,” according to his thesis adviser) he engaged in many extracurricular activities and joined the staff of campus papers.
Although he did not fit the popular image of the stereotypical student activist – he had a quiet and scholarly manner, a slight build and a limp due to polio – Obispo was an active participant in the antidictatorship movement as a member of the De La Salle chapter of the militant League of Filipino Students. He joined protest rallies and demonstrations, and criticized the regime’s policies in articles for student publications.
Obispo left for school on October 17, 1984 and met there with friends, but failed to return home that day. His family reported him missing. After eight days of searching, they were informed that Imo’s body was in a hospital in Laguna, where he had been brought, still alive, after being run over by a train.
But so many questions remained unanswered: What was he doing there? Who were the unknown persons inquiring after him at the hospital? Who was the fake priest who called his teacher and gave false information about Imo’s whereabouts? Why did his chest bear what looked like cigarette burns?
Immanuel Obispo’s murder took place at a time when the regime was carrying out many violent acts against its critics, including the killing of Alex Orcullo in Davao City and Jacobo Amatong in Dipolog City. At De La Salle University itself, students had been noticing intensified military intelligence surveillance. Thus, it was not hard to believe that Imo was killed by the military.