The artist-activist group DAKILA criticized the toppling down of the Bonifacio statue in Taguig to give way for a road project linking the business districts of Taguig and Ortigas . According to news reports, the Department of Public Works and Highways did not have a consultation or approval from the National Historical Council of the Philippines before taking down the statue.

Inaugurated in 1997 as a state memorial for the centennial death anniversary of the father of Philippine Revolution, the statue was erected near the Philippine Army Camp’s original Gate 1 to pay tribute to Andres Bonifacio to whom the camp was named after. Andres Bonifacio was the founder of the Kataastaasan Kagalanggalangan Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan (KKK or Katipunan) where he was later on elected as the Supremo and led the revolution against Spanish colonial rule.

According to DAKILA Communications Director Cha Roque, “We, at DAKILA, recognize the importance of these markers as not merely decorations but also a reminder of the sacrifices and martyrdom of heroes who fought for our country’s freedom. This is why we keep on striving to remind the public especially the youth, of the importance of learning about our history and our heroes. Our heroes’ stories are not fables or fiction but are living examples of how to live our lives especially at these times of social unrest and repression.”

In reaction, historian Xiao Chua also said, “A people who demolishes its heroes is a people that will be demolished by the future. How would national development matter if it will demolish the memory of those who created the Nation itself?”

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The toppling down of the statue happened a few days before the nation is set to commemorate Bonifacio’s 154th birth anniversary on November 30. DAKILA’s Active Vista Human Rights Festival coincides with Bonifacio Day on November 30. The festival is set to open on November 22 and culminate on International Human Rights Day.

Active Vista Executive Director Leni Velasco said, “The toppling down of Bonifacio’s monument is quite telling of how our government honors our heroes who fought for freedom. The photo captured by the Inquirer of the Bonifacio statue tied to a flagpole reeks of too much symbolism on how freedom fighters are regarded by this government. Not only does this incident shows blatant disregard of laws and guidelines but it also demonstrates our government’s non-respect for national symbols of courage, heroism and freedom.

Is this a sign of our times? Have we as a nation forgotten the pains of our past struggles for the sake of another promise of change? We buried a false hero at Libingin ng mga Bayani while we demolished the statue of a genuine revolutionary leader. We are slowly erasing the innate Filipino values of love for country (bayan) and community (kapwa) in our national consciousness. If utter disregard and non-respect of human rights and dignity continue as a result of the state’s war against drugs then sooner or later what we will lose in our humanity as a people. “ 

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DAKILA’s Active Vista Human Rights Festival was designed as a platform for the public to learn more about the importance of freedom and human rights through film screenings, art exhibit, theater, creative workshops, talks and a concert to celebrate International Human Rights Day. On November 30, DAKILA shall convene 300 youth leaders in a Youth Empowerment Summit dubbed as Heroes Hub to enlighten Millennials on human rights and social concerns, and to empower them to be active agents of social change.

In ending, Cha Roque said, “A nation’s history shapes its future. If we allow now the desecration of the value of our heroes to our national consciousness then we have surrendered our country to a bleak state where freedom, rights and genuine development remain an elusive dream.”