Randy Malayao: Campus journalist and ‘fisher of men’

December 2, 2011

Sila’y mga aninong tinipon sa masikip na sisidlan: sa makapangyarihan ay tinik sa lalamunan. Tinugis sila: hindi man sa anyo ng pagpaslang, ngunit sila’y iniligpit at isinumpang humimlay sa mga sulok na itinururing na libingan ng mga buhay.

Ngunit ayon sa Malakanyang, “walang bilanggong pulitikal sa Pilipinas.”

Ang mga bilanggong pulitikal, political detainee, o “poldet” ay yaong inaresto at idinetine para sa “mga gawaing kaugnay ng pagsusulong ng kanilang pampulitikang mga paniniwala.” Habang isinasampa sa ilan ang mga pulitikal na kaso gaya ng rebelyon o sedisyon, karamihan sa kanila ay sadyang sinampahan ng karaniwang mga kasong kriminal, na nagkakaila sa pulitikal na katangian ng kanilang pagkakapiit.

Ang POKUS:POLDET ay isang espesyal na seksiyon na laan ng Pinoy Weekly para sa mga sulatin ukol sa mga bilanggong pulitikal. Ito’y testimonya sa kanilang pag-iral at patuloy na pakikibaka – isang panata para sa kanilang pagpapalaya.

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Randy Malayao: Campus journalist and ‘fisher of men’

Randy Malayao, NDFP consultant, detained at the Tugegarao City Jail. (Raymund Villanueva)

Randy Malayao, NDFP consultant, detained at the BJMP jail in Ilagan. (Raymund Villanueva)

Randy Felix Malayao was born to a local Department of Interior and Local Government official and a homemaker in the old town of San Pablo, Isabela. He was the youngest in the family.

As a pupil and student Randy was consistently at the top of his class and was always a winner in district and provincial school contests. After graduating as valedictorian of Minanga Elementary School, he took his secondary studies at the Isabela State University Science High School. He passed the University of the Philippines College Admission Test and was first enrolled at university’s Diliman campus. He later transferred to UP in the Visayas-Miag-Ao to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Fishery degree. He graduated in 1992.

In Miag-Ao, Randy became a member of the Beta Sigma Fraternity and was also the founding chairperson of the League of Filipino Students-UP Miag-Ao Chapter. In his senior year he assumed the chief editorship of Ang Mangingisda, the official student publication.

Among fellow students in Iloilo Randy was known as an elder brother, letting them stay in his rented apartment in Iloilo City and letting them use his personal computer for free. Randy was among the first students to own such a gadget in the entire province. He helped everyone who sought his assistance in writing theses and academic papers.

In 1991 Randy was elected vice president for Visayas of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines. He took to his tasks like fish in the water, recruiting the most number of member publications in the entire history of the Guild in the Visayas during his term. He revived campus publications where they were previously clamped; established where there were none. He made them all active as he led them through many campaigns, ranging from education issues to peoples’ concerns.

In 1993 Randy stood as the lone candidate for the national presidency of the CEGP. The CEGP congress was declared as a failure, however, due to some confusion in the election process and Randy reassumed the vice presidency on a hold-over capacity.

In 1994 Randy travelled to Mindanao as one of the organizers of CEGP’s congress and convention. Thereafter, he left the Visayas to work full time as a CEGP national office staff.

After many years as a student leader and organizer Randy felt it was time to put his academic training in the service of peasants in his home region of Cagayan Valley. He started helping various peasant and community organizations in Region 2 by conducting seminars on economic, political and other human rights.

Randy was subsequently accused as one of the masterminds in the killing of notorious Martial Law human rights violator and former congressman and governor Rodolfo Aquinaldo. Fearing for his life Randy started making himself scarce, even among friends and family. But he never wavered in his commitment to help the marginalized sectors of Cagayan Valley region.

Handcuffed Randy Malayao, attending one of the court hearings. (Raymund Villanueva)

Handcuffed Randy Malayao, attending one of the court hearings. (Raymund Villanueva)

On May 15, 2008, Randy was abducted by members of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines while on his way to a home of a friend in Cainta, Rizal. He was blindfolded for four days as he was made to suffer many forms of physical and psychological torture. Despite severe pain and mortifying fear for the safety of his loved ones Randy refused to tell lies his torturers want him to say to save himself. Such was the severity of his torture that he was unaware he was driven from Metro Manila to his home province of Isabela (more than 400 kilometers away) where he was surfaced by the 5th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army nearly five days after his abduction.

After he was surfaced by the Philippine Army Randy was taken to the Tuguegarao City Jail in Cagayan Province to be charged with the murder of Aguinaldo and other persons. It is notable that in all charges filed against him Randy’s name has been a late addition. In mid 2010 Randy was found innocent of the Aguinaldo murder charge. He was then transferred to the Ilagan District Jail to face the other murder and frustrated murder charges against him.

In prison Randy endeared himself to all by consoling distraught fellow prisoners, volunteering to write letters and conduct literary programs for the illiterate inmates, organizing medical missions and sports fests, and acting as paralegal, among others. He readily shared his food, medicines, even electric fans and reading materials to all fellow prisoners. As the most learned and erudite of all the prisoners he was the instant choice whenever they were dignitaries or groups of students who visit the jail. He engaged the prison authorities on how improve the conditions inside the facility. In both the Tuguegarao and Ilagan jails he was elected prison governor by the inmates.

A few days after his surfacing in 2008, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines Negotiation Panel formally announced that Randy is a consultant to the peace talks with the Government of the Philippines. As such, the NDFP said, Randy is protected by the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees of 1995 and should be immune from arrest and torture. The NDFP maintains to this day that Randy should be released under JASIG and all charges against him be dropped.

For more information on the campaign to free Randy Malayao, you can visit the campaign’s blogsite.