Salute, Ka Fidel Agcaoili!

The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), Karapatan, Hustisya and Desaparecidos join the human rights community and peace advocates in mourning the untimely demise of Fidel Agcaoili on July 23, 2020. When we first heard the news of his passing, the first response was stunned silence. Then came the tears — soft and shared by the people he served well and inspired in the long, continuing struggle for just and lasting peace. We heartfully condole with his family, his colleagues in the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) as well as his friends and comrades from all over the world.

Ka Fidel was a staunch champion and defender of human rights, himself a victim of brutal human rights violations — checking out the boxes for illegal arrest, physical and mental torture, and detention as the longest incarcerated political prisoner during the dark days of the fascist Marcos dictatorship. Together with other former political prisoners, he founded SELDA and became its founding secretary general. He also served as secretary general in the Partido ng Bayan. By the time of his passing, he was the chairperson of the NDFP peace negotiating panel.

In the course of the peace negotiations between the Duterte government and the NDFP, we have witnessed Fidel’s selfless work in gently pushing and fiercely defending the people’s agenda for a just and lasting peace in the negotiating table. He played a key role in the drafting and finalization of major agreements, especially the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law in 1998; he also co-chaired the Joint Monitoring Committee on the CARHRIHL upon its formation in 2004.

Ka Fidel was blunt, yet funny; serious and gentle, and always imparting lessons from his life in the revolutionary struggle. He came from a rich family, but he embraced the downtrodden and their fight for genuine social justice. His tireless and selfless commitment in serving the people will be remembered, celebrated, and honored for his tremendous contributions in advancing and pursuing the cause of just and lasting peace that will forever live in the hearts and minds of the people whom he have inspired and influenced, and most especially those who have followed his example in serving the people and the revolutionary cause.

Ka Fidel deserves to return to his beloved motherland that he had long fought for all throughout his life. We strongly appeal that, at the very least, Fidel and his family be accorded respect so they can properly grieve his untimely demise and bury him in a way befitting a good father and a courageous, uncompromising patriot.

We offer our salute to Ka Fidel Agcaoili and we thank him for his staunch defense of people’s rights. We will continue to pursue just and lasting peace, a dream of Ka Fidel and many other peacemakers and fighters for the rights of the poor and downtrodden.