Martial Law detainee reports receiving death threat

Martial Law detainee reports receiving death threat
Playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker Bonifacio Ilagan, a staunch critic of the Marcoses, speaks in a virtual news conference.
News5 / Greg Gregorio

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:19 p.m.) — A playwright who was detained during the Martial Law regime reported that he received a death threat over the New Year long weekend.

Martial Law survivor Bonifacio Ilagan said he got a call last Monday from a man who introduced himself as part of a unit tasked to “wipe out” communists. Ilagan, a staunch critic of the Marcos family including President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., said he was told by the man to desist from his activities.

Ilagan said the man called himself “Kumander” who belonged to a unit whose name he was unable to remember.

“He said he ‘knew enough of me and still had some respect for me,’ but he and his unit were just waiting for ‘the final order from the higher-ups,’ and they would surely get me, and that I should not ask for mercy, it would be futile, because I had already been warned,” Ilagan said.

“While the man didn’t say outright that they would kill me, his point was all too clear: They could.”

In a separate exchange with Philstar.com, Ilagan said he has reported the incident to police and has since taken extra precautions.

“I can only think of the source/s as those who would benefit if I am silenced: State players,” he added.

Ilagan is a co-convenor of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law, a coalition of victims of the elder Marcos’ brutal rule.

In a statement, CARMMA acknowledged that "like many other activists who have been vocal against the return to power of the Marcoses, Ka Boni has received quite a few text messages cursing and threatening him for courageously standing up for his principles."

Since 2017, government officials and government supporters have taken to labeling activists and dissenters as communists, rebels and terrorists, a practice that rights groups, the Commission on Human Rights and the UN rights office have warned puts those who have been labeled in danger of harassment and attack.

CARMMA also condemned the threat, which the group blamed on the Marcoses.

"But if they think that this will deter us from our campaign, they are wrong. We will uphold and defend Ka Boni’s rights, and we will never relent in the struggle for truth and accountability, despite threats and challenges," it also said. 

Ilagan, a playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker, was among the thousands detained and tortured during dictator Marcos Sr.’s Martial Law regime. As a University of the Philippines student in the 1970s, Ilagan, along with screenwriter Jose "Pete" Lacaba and author and professor Dolores Stephens Feria ran an underground publication to counter government-imposed censorship.

Philstar.com has reached out to the police about Ilagan's case, and no response has been made as of press time. — Xave Gregorio

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