We at the ILPS Commission 3 on Human Rights and Political Prisoners deeply express our great sorrow for the demise of Fidel Agcaoili, our mentor and partner in the struggle to free political prisoners and in championing their rights even beyond prison, a passionate carrier of the torch for Filipino people’s struggle for freedom and democracy, a true patriot, a revolutionary, a simple soul content with simple things despite a well off family background and upbringing, a friend.
Schooled in the best schools his family’s wealth can afford, he chose to utilize his education not for personal vain and glory, but in the fight for the betterment of the lives of poor Filipinos and against injustices in his country.
Ka Fidel, as he is fondly called, was the longest detained prisoner during martial law, serving beyond the sentence of a crime he has been accused of. But the long years of hard life in prison, never broke his will to fight injustice. Even while in prison, he and his co detainees organized political prisoners and established an organization to fight for their rights and against their unjust imprisonment.
Upon release from prison, he spearheaded the establishment of the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (SELDA), with him elected as its secretary-general. SELDA’s gains and victories in fighting for the rights of prisoners and their claim for justice most notably the recognition and indemnification of the victims of the atrocities of martial law, Ka Fidel’s hard work paid off. He remained a good mentor to SELDA even while in exile in the Netherlands and up to the last days of his life.
Ka Fidel has to be applauded for his work in the peace process and negotiations with past and present administration of the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). He directed campaigns for the recognition and implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CAHRIHL) and all its companion agreements signed by the GRP. He was the chief peace negotiator for the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in the peace negotiations with the GRP up until the time of his demise. As the chief negotiator he has gained the respect even of his adversaries in the negotiating table earning him the appellation peace warrior.
Indeed the Philippine people’s movement for freedom and democracy has lost a precious son. But while we express our sense of loss and grief for Ka Fidel’s passing on to another life, we are deeply thankful to him for showing us a good example of how to live a life in the service of the people. This is a legacy, every freedom loving Filipino should emulate.
To the family of Ka Fidel, we extend our sympathy for their loss, but we likewise congratulate them for having had a true patriot and revolutionary in their family.
Ka Fidel you will forever be etched in our hearts and minds!