At 2:30 a.m. of March 3, 2018, gunshots rang out in the quiet Barangay Luyang, Mabinay, Negros Oriental, where government troops led by then First Lieutenant Prad Adoptante and Second Lieutenant Reymart Africa were on routine patrol. The shots, coming from automatic rifles, were directed at the patrolling soldiers, who rushed to engage the phantom attackers in a five-minute gunfight.
After a volley of resistance, a male voice from the attackers’ side called out, signifying surrender. Six young individuals, barely out of their teens, came out of the dark. They were members of the communist New People’s Army.
Thus went government’s official version of that fateful morning’s incident. Hell of a story, except that the consequent paraffin test simply rendered invertebrate the one tall tale told by the military. Implausible, said one party, government’s version of a gunfight simply collapses.
In recent years, there must have been occasions where justice was properly served, releasing activists and journalists from unjust incarceration with made-up charges. But not so with the “Mabinay 6,” which case reportedly still has to be heard come October this year—three stolen years and more for six young ones who, supposedly, were in community immersion at the time of their arrest. They were there because that was how large their classroom was, and that was education in its purest form unfolding—helping and working with the toiling poor villagers.
Recently, Marley Albasin, the sister of one of the Mabinay 6, Myles Albasin, announced on her social media post that her sister has just been accepted to law school.
“My ate Myles is enrolled at Silliman University, College of Law. There is just one more thing to unhitch though, so it could truly happen. She has been detained for three years and six months, and not a single hearing on the case yet,” wrote Marley. “In the meantime, her law study inside detention will lessen the number of years she will spend law once she gets out of jail.”
Lawyer Tony La Viña, friend and legal adviser for the Mabinay 6, said that for Myles to study in prison, she would need the court’s permission to use gadgets and access the internet. She’ll be studying from her cell. At the time of Myles’ arrest in 2018, she was about to start law school in Davao City.
At the few chances that journalists were able to take photographs of the Mabinay 6, there was always Myles, raising a clenched fist, a defining gesture of a fighter so certain of her cause.
Her mother Grace Albasin, former journalist herself, said her daughter was one who asked a lot—Why are there poor people?—one question at once innocent and yet fiercely radical. It should be one the rest of us must be asking ourselves. Just what is so wrong and rotten in this whole darn system? Go, find the Myles in each one of you.
Lastly, Marley writes on her social media post: “And if I had something to say to you right now Ate Myles, it would be I love you and I am so proud of you.”
We wish we can confess the same love and pride to the rest of our countrymen.