Evelio Javier

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Evelio Javier
Statue of Evelio Javier.jpg
Monument of Evelio B. Javier in San Jose, Antique.
Governor of Antique
In office
December 30, 1971 – December 30, 1980
Succeeded by Arturo Pacificador
Personal details
Born (1942-10-14)October 14, 1942
Hamtic, Antique, Commonwealth of the Philippines
Died February 11, 1986(1986-02-11) (aged 43)
San Jose de Buenavista, Antique, Philippines
Nationality Filipino
Political party Liberal Party
Spouse(s) Precious Bello Lotilla
Children Francis Gideon Everardo Javier
David Javier
Alma mater Ateneo de Manila University
Occupation lawyer, civil servant
Religion Roman Catholicism

Evelio Bellaflor Javier (October 31, 1942 – February 11, 1986) was a young governor of the province of Antique in the Philippines and an opponent of the dictatorship of President Ferdinand Marcos. His assassination on February 11, 1986 was one of the causes of the People Power Revolution that overthrew Marcos.[1][2]

Evelio Javier's brother, Exequiel Javier, served as congressman from 1987 to 1998 and from 2001 to 2010 and governor from 1998 to 2001, and 2010 to 2015.

Early life and marriage[edit]

Evelio Javier was born on October 31, 1942, in Barangay Lanag (now Brgy. Evelio Javier), Hamtic, Antique, to Everardo Autajay Javier (Moscoso), a prosecutor and Feliza Bellaflor, a teacher.[2][3] He finished grade school in San Jose Elementary School in San Jose, Antique and graduated high school with first honors and college in Ateneo de Manila University.[2][3] There, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Government and he earned his Bachelor of Laws at Ateneo Law School in 1968.[2][3] He passed the bar examination in 1968 before he became a college professor at the Ateneo, a successful lawyer and entered into politics.[2] He was a member of the law school's Fraternal Order of Utopia.[2]

He married Precious Bello Lotilla, daughter of Vicente Lotilla and Angelina Bello of Sibalom, Antique in Manila on December 29, 1968. They had two sons, Francis Gideon Everardo and David Ignatius.[3]

Governor of Antique[edit]

Javier ran for governor of Antique and won in 1971 by one of the largest margins in history, making him, at the age of 28, the Philippines' youngest governor.[2][3] He did not run again for election in 1980.[3] Instead he attended the JFK School of Government at Harvard University in 1981 on a scholarship, where he earned a Masters in Public Administration.[2][3]

In 1984, he ran for Assemblyman in the Batasang Pambansa, and lost.[1] Five years after his death, he was declared the winner by the Philippine Supreme Court.[3]

Assassination[edit]

At 10:00 in the morning of February 11, 1986, three or four masked gunmen riding in a Nissan Patrol jeep went to the New Capitol building in San Jose, Antique.[3] While Evelio Javier was talking to his friends on the steps in front of the capitol building, the masked gunmen opened fire.[3] Time magazine described the scene:[4]

Evelio Javier, director of Corazon Aquino's campaign in the remote province of Antique, was sitting on the lawn in front of the capital building, taking a break from a debate over contested votes in his region, when a white vehicle pulled into the driveway. Without warning, a man in a black knit ski mask leaped out and started shooting. Javier jumped up and ran. Zigzagging across the building's broad concrete plaza, he tried to escape the relentless barrage of bullets. At least one hit its mark. Javier stumbled and fell into a small fishpond.

Somehow, though, the fleeing man struggled to his feet and staggered across the street. By this time, other gunmen had begun to close in. Two approached from the left. Another, brandishing a .45 pistol, appeared in front of a warehouse. Javier ducked into an alley and tried to hide behind an outhouse door. But the masked killer found his prey and finished him off with a burst of gunfire.

The toilet was owned by Leon Pe.[3] The News Today at the 20th anniversary reported, "As the prostrated corpse of Javier lied on the damp cement of the comfort booth, another gunman, hankering for a kill, unmasked himself and made a shrill outcry - "Can you recognize me? Stand up and fight!" Whereupon, he fired the coup de grace directed at the head..." His body had 24 bullet wounds.[3]

Time reported that many in Javier's camp blamed Arturo Pacificador for the assassination:[4]

Opposition leaders and many residents immediately claimed they knew who was behind the killing: Arturo Pacificador, a Marcos crony who is assistant majority floor leader in the National Assembly. Pacificador has operated like a warlord in Antique, wielding political patronage with his connections in the ruling party and the power he has amassed under Marcos....

He won his seat in the National Assembly by beating Javier in one of the most controversial campaigns of the 1984 election. On the eve of the voting, seven Javier supporters were killed during a shoot-out with Pacificador and his followers. The Ministry of Justice investigated, but never released its findings.

A suspect was quickly arrested the day after the assassination, a member of the Philippine Constabulary who was identified by witnesses as the man who ran across the plaza after Javier.[4] Pacificador and eight others were named as suspects.[1] Pacificador evaded arrest for over 10 years finally surrendering himself to authorities.[1] In 2004, Pacificador was found not guilty by the Antique Regional Trial Court while his eight co-defendants were found guilty and sentenced to life terms.[1]

On the day of his burial in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique, thousands of mourners followed his funeral procession to the cemetery wearing yellow shirts with yellow bands tied to their wrists.[3] They played his favorite song, "The Impossible Dream," during the procession to the cemetery.[3] Thousands of Antiquenos there showed their anger and sorrow by crying "Justice for Evelio! We love you!" on the day of his death.[citation needed]

Fueled the People Power Revolution[edit]

Sign at entrance of the plaza of San Jose, which has been named after Gov. Javier

The assassination of Evelio Javier on Feb. 11, 1986 fueled the People Power Revolution that happened weeks later on Saturday, February 22, 1986 which ousted Ferdinand Marcos and made Cory Aquino the President of the Philippines..[1] Evelio's body processed through Manila, passing Ateneo de Manila University, where he had thousands of friends and colleagues, days before the Feb. 22 revolution.

Legacy[edit]

The day of his assassination is now marked as Governor Evelio B. Javier Day and is a special non-working public holiday in the provinces of Antique, Capiz, Aklan, and Iloilo, the four provinces on Panay island.[5]

In September 1986, Isagani Cruz wrote about Javier at the end of his decision in Javier vs. COMELEC:

Let us first say these meager words in tribute to a fallen hero who was struck down in the vigor of his youth because he dared to speak against tyranny. Where many kept a meekly silence for fear of retaliation and still others feigned and fawned in hopes of safety and even reward, he chose to fight. He was not afraid. Money did not tempt him. Threats did not daunt him. Power did not awe him. His was a singular and all-exacting obsession: the return of freedom to his country. And though he fought not in the barricades of war amid the sound and smoke of shot and shell, he was a soldier nonetheless, fighting valiantly for the liberties of his people against the enemies of his race, unfortunately, of his race too, who would impose upon the land a perpetual night of dark enslavement. He did not see the breaking of dawn, sad to say, but in the very real sense Evelio B. Javier made that dawn draw nearer because he was, like Saul and Jonathan, “swifter than eagles and stronger than lions."[2]

An airport, Evelio Javier Airport, in San Jose, Antique, was named in honor of Evelio.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f Palisada, Stanley (11 February 2011). "Remembering Evelio Javier". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 8 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Evelio B. Javier, Utopia Batch 1965". The Fraternal Order of Utopia. 2011-11-03. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Evelio B. Javier: 20th year of tribute to heroism". The News Today. February 3, 2006. Retrieved 11 February 2013. 
  4. ^ a b c "Gangland Politics". Time magazine. February 24, 1986. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  5. ^ An Act Declaring February 11 of Each Year Governor Evelio B. Javier Day, A Special Non-Working Public Holiday in the Provinces of Antique, Capiz, Aklan and Iloilo, June 3, 1992, retrieved 2008-06-16