Northern Luzon under the Marcos dictatorship was regarded as “Marcos country,” where local officials and institutions were held in the grip of individuals who exercised authority through terrorism, control of resources and of course the impunity they enjoyed.
The province of Quirino was part of this region, and it was ruled by Orlando Dulay, once the constabulary commander of the province, then its governor and later, assemblyman or representative in the Batasang Pambansa. Dulay was the provincial coordinator of the Marcos political party, Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL), and his residence was the KBL headquarters.
Dulay treated the province as his personal kingdom. He had his own private army composed of militiamen and discharged soldiers. He used them to take over land and other properties, to intimidate his enemies and to sow fear and terror among the people. No wonder, there was “peace and order” in the area.
Fernando T. Pastor was one of those community leaders who were forced to keep silent about the abuses that were going on. When President Marcos declared martial law in 1972, he had been serving for four years as barangay captain of Rizal, in Diffun municipality. He was a popular leader who managed to produce good results: a barangay hall was built and roads were repaired. Everyone was encouraged to participate in barangay activities. He always sympathized with the common folk, probably because he was born to a poor family in Tayug, Pangasinan, and it was as a working student that he was able to earn his degree in sacred literature at the Philippine Bible College in Baguio City.
Being a preacher of the US-based Church of Christ, Pastor devoted himself to conducting services, teaching religious classes in high school, and reading the Bible and a wide range of materials. He loved to preach and to debate about religious precepts.
In 1982, Pastor started a fish farm in Cabarroguis, Quirino where the family came to live. He was a good provider, his wife Cristeta said, going out to fish all night long when needed, in order to put food on the table for his children. He pioneered the organization of the Fishpond Operators Association of Quirino, and was later elected its president.
But when snap presidential polls were called in 1985, Pastor decided it was no longer time to keep quiet. He actively campaigned for Corazon Aquino. He became municipal coordinator of the United Nationalist Democratic Organization (UNIDO) and its provincial vice-chair. He went around campaigning, urging people to vote for Aquino because “Marcos is old and has been in power for so long… let’s try a young and fresh administration.”
That was not what Dulay liked to hear. Pastor began receiving threats to his life. Someone he knew, who worked for the governor, told him: “Better stop campaigning for Cory. The boss is not pleased.” Apparently, the last straw was when Pastor ignored Dulay’s summons to come and talk with him.
On February 6, 1986, eve of the snap presidential elections, Pastor, his oldest son Fernando Pastor Jr. and colleague Francisco Laurella were walking on their way home to Cabarroguis when they were abducted by Dulay himself and two of his men. The three UNIDO campaigners were taken to Dulay’s residence and kept inside a van for three days. As Pastor and Laurella pleaded to be spared for the sake of their children, Dulay was said to have shrugged and commented: “This is your last night.”
The ravaged bodies of the younger Pastor and Francisco Laurella were found near a ravine three days later, and that of the elder Pastor five days after. They had been tortured and mutilated.
The Pastor family hurriedly left the province in fear and despair, their livelihood in shambles. Dulay was eventually charged with the deaths of the three men and, in 1990, sentenced to life imprisonment by the Quezon City regional trial court. He was also ordered to indemnify their families.
PARENTS Maximo Pastor and Maria Tamayo
SPOUSE / CHILDREN Cristeta Ceazar / 6
College: Luna Colleges, Tayug, Pangasinan; Philippine Bible College, Baguio City