Randy Felix Malayao: Jailed But Still Defiant


Randy Felix Malayao, political and peace adviser of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Cagayan Valley, was illegally arrested, tortured, detained and slapped with a string of criminal charges. For four days and four nights of relentless interrogation, Malayao told his captors, “Pipiliin ko na lang hukayin ang sarili kong libingan. Wala kayong makukuha sa akin.” (I’d rather dig my own grave. You will get nothing from me.)

BY RONALYN V. OLEA
Bulatlat
Vol. VIII, No. 19, June 15-21, 2008

TUGUEGARAO CITY, CAGAYAN (440 kms. North of Manila) – Randy Felix Malayao, consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF) in Isabela province has been detained at the district jail in this city for almost a month.

Malayao was abducted on May 15, around 9 p.m. That day, Malayao just alighted from a G-Liner bus in front of a mall in Cainta, Rizal when six unidentified men who came from different directions abducted him. Two immediately handcuffed him. The rest held both his feet and forced him inside a vehicle. One of the armed men quickly covered Malayao’s eyes, first with a pair of goggles and then with a scarf.

The account of Malayao’s arrest was based on his affidavit and on statements issued by human rights group Karapatan-Cagayan Valley.

For four days and four nights, Malayao’s relatives and friends searched for him. On the fifth day since his disappearance, the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army surfaced him at the Camp Melchor dela Cruz in Gamu, Isabela.

During the gathering of Free Randy Malayao Movement and Friends of Randy at the San Pablo Church in Isabela, June 8, elder sister Perla related, “Ilang gabi akong hindi makatulog. Iyon pala, nakakaranas na ng physical at psychological torture ang kapatid ko.” (I had sleepless nights. Later, I learned that during the same time, my brother was being subjected to physical and psychological torture.)

Tortured

During the visit of Malayao’s relatives, former classmates and friends on June the same day, Malayao was asked about the torture he endured. He said, “Relentlessly, talagang na-interrogate ako nang apat na araw, apat na gabi. Deprived ako ng tulog. At siyempre, may mahalagang impormasyong gusto nilang alamin. Sabi ko, pipiliin ko na lang hukayin ang sarili kong libingan… Kilala n’yo na ako. ‘Yung mga nalalaman ko, dadalhin ko na lang sa hukay.” (Relentlessly, I was interrogated for four days and four nights. I was deprived of sleep. Of course, they wanted to extract important information from me. I told them, ‘I’d rather dig my own grave. You already know who I am. I will just bring everything I know to the grave.)

Malayao’s affidavit details the kind of torture he went through, “My captors covered my head with a plastic bag which caused me to suffocate. I was made to lie down on bare cement purportedly to simulate how it feels dying that way. On several occasions, they forced me to raise my two feet while sitting on a chair until my feet got stiff and my muscles tired and ached. I was never allowed to sleep during the entire duration of my captivity except for the couple of hours they allowed me to take a nap so that my eyes would not appear puffy when presented to the media during the press conference. On those occasions when I seemed to doze off, they would repeatedly slap or box my shoulders and upper torso or continuously beat my legs with a flat wooden stick which caused pain on those parts of my body; But so as not to leave any mark of injury, the interrogator’s companions would massage the parts of my body that were either slapped, boxed or beaten.”

Each interrogation session usually lasted for two hours. During 30-minute breaks though, Malayao was treated to what he calls ear-drum shattering sounds from a speaker placed just beside him. There were times when wiretapped conversations of people were played. Karapatan-Cagayan Valley Secretary General Neil Galoy said that the song Impossible Dream was played repeatedly.

Malayao was also subjected to extreme temperatures. “My captors would turn off the air conditioner and cover me with blankets, making me sweat profusely. Then, they would set the unit in extremely cold levels and send me freezing to the bones.”

Not a criminal

Malayao was charged with murder for the killing of the late Congressman Rodolfo Aguinaldo and his close aide, and with frustrated murder of Aguinaldo’s secretary. He was also charged with murder for the ambush of some military personnel in Balgan, San Mariano, Isabela; for allegedly killing three more men including a barangay (village) captain of the same town, Benjamin Olalia, Jr. of Ilagan, Isabela and an Army personnel in the same place.

Malayao said, “Wala naman silang ebidensya. Puro imbento lang. Baka nag-iimbento pa sila ng iba pang kaso, di ko pa alam.” (They have no evidence. Everything is just made up. They may be inventing other cases, I still don’t know.)

Manang Perla, as what Randy calls his elder sister, could not believe the charges filed against her brother. She described her brother as thoughtful, caring, obedient and industrious. She said that an early age, Randy helped the family by selling ice candy in the neighborhood.

At the San Pablo Church in Isabela, Manang Perla told the crowd, “Talamak ang graft and corruption sa gobyerno kaya maraming katulad ng kapatid ko. Ipinaglalaban lang niya ang karapatan ng mga inaapi. Saludo ako sa kanya.” (Graft and corruption is rampant in government that is why there are many activists like my brother. He is only fighting for the rights of the oppressed. I salute him.)

Manang Perla works as the municipal development officer under the regional office of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

Raymund Villanueva, Randy’s childhood friend and colleague at the College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), depicted Randy as a good and brilliant son of San Pablo (Randy’s hometown).

In his speech, Bayan Muna Representative Teodoro Casiño Jr., said, “Kung may maituturing mang kasalanan si Randy, iyon ay ang pagtulong sa kapwa.” (Randy’s only crime is that he helped others.)

Casiño and Malayao met during their college days. When Casiño was elected CEGP national president, Malayao served as the Guild’s vice president for Visayas. “Magaling na organizer si Randy. Bilang vice president for Visayas, halos mag-isa niyang itinayo ang mga chapter sa maraming probinsya ng Visayas.” (Randy is a good organizer. As vice president for Visayas, he organized – almost single-handedly – the chapters in many provinces in the Visayas.)

Casiño revealed that Randy’s favorite song is You’ve Got to Do More than That. “It became his personal slogan. Para sa kanya, hindi sapat na tayo ay naaawa, nagagalit. Kailangang may aktwal na pagtulong.” (For him, it’s not enough that we sympathize or we are enraged. We must concretize this with acts of helping.)

What is more telling though is the influx of Malayao’s visitors. The Tuguegarao City District Jail was swamped with more than a hundred relatives, former classmates and friends on that Sunday afternoon. Some of his visitors came all the way from Quezon City. Each set of ten to twenty visitors was given ten minutes to talk to Malayao.

When egged on to sing, Malayao sand his favorite song You’ve Got to Do More than That. He was smiling and laughing during most of the short visit. When childhood friend Raymund handed over books, a MP4 player and magazines, Malayao jokingly said, “Gusto n’yo atang tumagal pa ako rito ah.” (It seems you want me to stay here longer.) He quickly added that he spends his day reading most of the time.

Defiant

On a serious tone, Malayao said, “Ang pagkabilanggo ay isang hamon. Susubukin ang katatagan ng aking pananaw. Ipinapangako ko sa inyo na kung ano ako ngayon ay panghahawakan ko. Lagi’t lagi, ang aking pinapanguna ay ang interes ng sambayanan bago ang interes na pansarili.Doon ko ibabatay ang lahat ng aking mga hakbangin.

(Detention is a challenge. It will test the firmness of my principles. I pledge to you that I will hold on to what I am now. I will always prioritize the interest of the people before my own interests. That is the basis of all my actions.)

In his message read by Villanueva at the gathering of Free Randy Malayao Movement, Malayao criticized himself for his laxity in security that led to his arrest. He called it a temporary setback.

But he quickly added, “Hindi titigil ang pagmumulat, pag-oorganisa at pagpapakilos sa kilusang bayan dahil nasawi o nadakip ang isang kasama. Ang bawat martir ay magsisilbing inspirasyon para sa ibayong pagkilos samantalang sa pagkakabilanggo, tanging pisikal na katawan ang nakapiit, ang diwa’t kamalayan ay lubos na malaya’t lumalaban!” (The mass movement will not stop raising the awareness of, organizing and mobilizing the masses just because a comrade died or was captured. Every martyr serves as an inspiration for continuing the struggle. While in detention, only the physical body is confined, the consciousness remains free and fighting.)

Malayao thanked all who have supported him. He asked them to support other political prisoners. The last part of his message reads, “Release Elizabeth Principe! Surface Leo Velasco!”

Malayao never missed the chance to give tribute to the late Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran. He called Ka Bel as an outstanding representative of the toiling masses and a great leader of the Filipino workers.

He also never forgot to mention the Arroyo regime. “Sa gitna ng tumitinding kahirapan, kaliwa’t kanang korapsyon at katiwalian, walang humpay na karahasang militar at pasistang pananalakay, lalo lamang nag-aalab ang paglaban ng mamamayang Pilipino. Sa malao’t madali, walang ibang tunguhin ang rehimeng Arroyo kundi ang kanyang pagkabagsak.” (Amid the worsening poverty, widespread corruption and irregularities, relentless military violence and fascist attacks, the resistance of the Filipino people ignites even more. Sooner or later, the Arroyo regime would face its downfall.) Bulatlat

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