A Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) press release stated that Ramon Patriarca joined TFD in 1991 as a research, documentation and information program coordinator for Central Visayas and left the organization in 1995. If the TFDP information is correct, that means Patriarca became visible as a local human rights advocate at the same time that I was a struggling media practitioner.
I know Patriarca as a lanky, soft-spoken young man with long straight hair that he had the habit of brushing off with his fingers. But his outward calm betrayed the power of his convictions, which is not actually strange for most activists. But I do not know much of his activities outside of his TFD work, and I was not interested in knowing them. Yet his arrest last Feb. 5 in Consolacion town in Cebu did create a stir in my mind.
Ramon is no longer a lanky guy. Instead, he was a bit chubby and has grown big in the middle, something that may not be surprising for somebody who has grown older but could be inconsistent with claims that he had been based in the countryside (CS). Life in the CS is harsh and the food intake is not one that makes you bloat. One needed to be constantly on the move–or more appropriately on the walk. That ensures forced weight reduction.
This will be the beginning of a long legal battle for Ramon and while it would be a difficult one, it is better than being caught in a firefight or “salvaged.” The main problem is the lack of freedom but that can be compensated by the thought that at least the period of uncertainty in the early days of the arrest is over. Relief is a balm.
I went through the same route in my first arrest (1987). As far as I can remember, I was the first person post-Marcos to have been charged with rebellion in Cebu—or at least that was what I heard from the prosecutors who had to pore over their legal books to peg the amount of bail they would recommend for my case.
As I noted in my column in Sun.Star Cebu recently, what we have is a continuing past. As the revolution refuses to die down, we will continue to see more scenes like in the Patriarca case. For us who now only want to lead normal lives, this is distracting. But this is what our society is now and we have to accept reality.