JOPSON, Edgar Gil M.

From Bantayog ng mga Bayani (http://www.bantayog.org/node/126)

Edgar Jopson was a student leader from the Ateneo de Manila who achieved national fame when he became president of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP, 1969- 1971), then the largest student formation boasting of 69 member- schools.

Edgar, often called Edjop, led the NUSP to become involved in current issues. When two barrios in Bantay, Ilocos Sur were burned down by feuding political lords, Edjop and his group went to get out the terrifi ed residents and kept them housed in campus until their safety was assured. Likewise, when huge fl oods in 1972 left large areas of Luzon underwater for weeks, Edjop solicited the support of government and business groups in a project where youths went to reforest parts of the Sierra Madre mountains.

A pillar of the moderate faction of the student movement in the late 1960s until the early 1970s, Edjop accepted in 1970 the prestigious Ten Outstanding Young Men (TOYM) award of the Philippine Jaycees, stressing on unity at a time when a rift between the moderate and the radical activists was growing. “Solutions to our problems may divide us but these should never override the unifying need for these solutions. It is this need that unites us in the student movement; it is this need that unites us ultimately with other progressive sectors in our society,” he said. Even as a young student, he showed exceptional courage. Edjop is remembered as that bold young man who confronted and asked then President Marcos to promise not to seek a third term and to put the promise in writing. Marcos called Edjop a “grocer’s son,” and giving him a tongue-lashing for his sheer effrontery.

When martial law was imposed in 1972, Edjop, then a fresh college graduate, turned his back on job opportunities abroad and chose to work with the Philippine Association of Free Labor Unions (PAFLU).

He took up law at the University of the Philippines, which he abandoned after a couple of years, convinced that the laws he was studying were for the rich. He remained with the labor movement, living among the workers and helping draft collective bargaining agreements. It was at this time that Edjop, by then the symbol of moderation, turned to more radical politics.

Edjop joined the anti-dictatorship network and was soon a ranking leader of the revolutionary movement. Eventually he was asked to head the National Democratic Front Preparatory Commission, working among church people and members of the middle class.

Edjop was arrested in 1979, undergoing torture while under interrogation. After ten days, he escaped and immediately rejoined the underground. He made a written testimony that detailed the physical and mental torture he underwent, his torturers’ names, rank, and character descriptions.

In 1981, the military had posted a P180,000.00-prize on his head, making him then one of the most wanted persons in the country. Edjop simply went on with his work in Mindanao, learning and writing, sharing memories with his comrades and the ordinary people he was surrounded with.

On 20 September 1982, he was captured during a military raid in Davao City. Edjop was shot while trying to escape, taken alive, brought to the military camp and interrogated. He refused to “cooperate” and was summarily executed the following day. He was 34 years old. He is remembered as a good son, brother, friend, comrade, husband, and father, an inspiration to everyone. Edjop became a symbol of the modern idealistic Filipino youth who faced the realities of their time unfl inchingly, giving all, including their lives, for the country and the people.

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Birth: 
September 01, 1948
Death: 
September 20, 1982