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Speech by Senator Magnolia W. Antonino

January 25, 2010

Published on the Senate Congressional Record, Vol. 1, No. 2, January 27, 1970, p. 44, with minor changes like deletion of the usual, “Mr. President” in reference to the presiding officer.

I do not have a prepared speech, but the scene last night touched me as a mother, not as a legislator. While I was going down the stairs, I was approached by about five or seven boys from the different universities and they said, as if they were begging on their knees, “Senator Antonino, help us. We are going to be killed. We are going to be finished. What kind of government is this? Can you not help us?” Such pleading shuddered me. Although I was dressed up in my Filipina Dress and with my high-heeled shoes, I had to go with them. They were pointing at a boy who was lying prostrate at the door of our Congress, with back of his head badly beaten and his blood oozing from it. I examined the wound and it was a bad cut right of his head. Immediately with the help of my sister I’ve to pick up the boy and took him by the side of the wall. I tried to look for ammonia but there was none, so I took my fan and fanned him, and called for my driver but he was not around. So, we carried the boy downstairs, the four of us including my two assistants in the office — but the policemen never offered to help us. I said, ‘What are you doing’? Why don’t you call an ambulance or commandeer a car and bring this boy to the hospital?” But they did not even answer. Thus, we went down, some men were down the stairs, and a car was parked. I said, “Commandeer that car,” and take this boy to the hospital.” Then, when the boy was off to the hospital, I stood at the portals of this building and made my observations. Many policemen, were just standing, but most of them, were running after the students and hitting them with sticks! I saw one boy lying on the street, and they still kept on beating him. Many of the boys ran to the second floor of this building, and one of them told the, “Senator, don’t go out, you may be harmed.” They said, “Get inside.” I wanted to see the boy get off to the hospital. So, I stood for a few minutes waiting for my car to come. With such a sight, I thought of my own four boys who are their contemporaries in college. They are not idiots, they are not imbiciles, they are not criminals or sadist. Those students only asked to be heard, and wanted to have a non-political convention that will amend the constitution. They had noble intentions!

When I got home, my children told me, “Mommy, have you seen the television?” I said, “No.” They said, “You should have seen girls who were inside the jeep being dragged out by the policemen and were beaten up.” We even drive sheep peacefully to their grazing lands, but our boys and girls last night were mobbed by some sadistic-minded police officers. But last night was a picture of what kind of law we have under such a situation. What will happen to our country when there will be war, when during this time of peace, people without arms are treated that way? There may be cause when people fight with arms. They may be more glorified. But what is the glory of fighting people who are unarmed?

I do not know the name of that boy, but I think that boy will be mentally disabled — the way I look at him — and God forbid!

I would like to make this observation. Do our Police Commission and the Manila Police sanction many of the punishments given the students? I know most of the policemen in Manila and all over the country have children of their own, could not they have imagined one of their children as part of the crowd. I think it is not enough to be a policeman. A policeman needs also to be human, and to know that this child could be victim of such brutality should temper his anger.

With observation that we had last night, I think that it is high time that we make stiff regulations for our police forces all over the country. In the choice of policemen, psychologists should be consulted, to weed out members and new applicants who have sadistic traits.

I would also request this body and every citizen in this country to keep all documentary evidences of the riot last night. Mass media cooperation should be requested in all investigations and all films and pictures that have been taken of the riot to prove or disprove the innocence or the guilt of anybody should be kept and preserved. In the picture that have been shown, the students maybe — but they cannot be wrong all the time! But should they be beaten up like the boy that was presented by Senator Pelaez with all those marks at his back? Is it not enough to beat a person once? You count the number of beatings he had on his back. You can see that the stick hit him many times!

I enjoin my colleagues and the public who have evidence to cooperate, so that, at least, these boys or the youth will not nourish discontent or lose faith in our government? I have one of my boys who was accused of doing something in a Catholic school. Until now, he does not like to go to a priest. If my boy who was accused of a minor offense in school which he did not commit, nourishes discontent until now, how much more for boys who were beaten up with their blood oozing from their wounds, forget or forgive agencies that punished them.

What kind of youth or citizens of tomorrow shall we have when they nourish discontent that they may never forget and forgive? Is this not a fertile ground for a clamor for change of government? As one boy said, “Mom, I think it is better to arm ourselves and fight.” I told him, “Son, don’t think of that. You are only mad because you have been beaten up. When you mature, you will think differently. Your cause is not lost. A few days later, and instead of going into demonstration, why not assemble and call on the senators one by one, so that the senators and the congressmen can have a chance to listen to you. Don’t lose faith.”

I join my colleagues now in asking for an investigation, but I appeal to the lawyer-members of the Senate as well as of the House to make available their law offices for legal services to help the students to locate policemen who committed acts of brutality against the innocent students beyond their duty. We saw a student holding a placard being beaten up. If the identity of that policeman is found, he should be punished so that it will serve as a lesson to all policemen of this country, — that they learn to be human and know how to act as peace officers, to gain the respect and faith of the youth and our people.

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