Raul A. Daza is one of the foremost oppositionists during the Martial Law period who chose to lead from afar. He was an exemplary student who graduated cum laude from the University of the Philippines College of Law and placed 11th in the bar exams. Daza made his first foray in Philippine politics when in 1969, he became the representative of Northern Samar, running under the minority Liberal Party (LP). Following the events of the First Quarter Storm, Daza was tasked to take the floor of the House of Representative to relay the stand of his party, deploring the administration’s response to protesters.
However, after Marcos declared Martial Law, many oppositionists, critics and activists were arrested, detained and tortured. Thus, the resistance movement was thrown in disarray, left weakened and cautious. While the number of those opposed to Marcos grew as atrocities became more apparent, with most of the leaders jailed and hiding, they were likewise left hesitant and wary. Daza, part of the movement’s remnants, sought the counsel of Benigno Aquino, who was among those detained, on what to do, but was told by the latter that they on the outside should know better. Arrest warrants were issued for newly emerging opposition leaders and leaders in hiding. Daza himself was later charged with subversion, arson and homicide in relation to his supposed involvement in the “Light-a-Fire Movement,” a group thought to be behind a series of bombings and arson attacks. Daza, along with many other in the opposition movement, chose to go on self-exile in the United States.
In the United States, the exiled leaders congregated to form anti-Martial Law movements across the country. One such movement, led by senator Raul Manglapus, was the Movement for a Free Philippines (MFP), which committed to lobbying the reduction of the United States’ financial and military assistance to the Philippines. The MFP was supported by the likes of the former Marcos aide, Primitivo Mijares, Constitutional Convention delegate Heherson Alvarez, former Manila Mayor Antonio Villegas, and of course, the neophyte politician Daza.
The group also staged a demonstration and counter forum in September 1982 to coincide Marcos’s visit to the country. Sooner or later, the movements overseas also began to gain traction. The different movements in the US, while of different ideological persuasions, all had the same motivation: the end of the dictatorship. When Ninoy Aquino was allowed to receive treatment in the United States, he also met up with the opposition leaders. It was here that he once again met Daza.
Daza often met Aquino. He recalls pleading for Aquino not to return to the Philippines, fearing for his life. Aquino disagreed, but he implored Daza that should something happen to him, the latter should go back home and carry on their work. Sure enough, upon Aquino’s return in 1983, he was shot to death. This was a turning point in the opposition to Marcos as it further enraged the people and strengthened their desire to oust the dictator, believing the latter to be behind the assassination plot. It stoked the same kind of fervent resolve for the opposition leaders in exile. Daza and many of the exiled leaders opted to return to the Philippines to galvanize and call the people to action.
“Our motherland is in her darkest hour. The time has come for all true Filipinos, whether here or abroad, and regardless of class, calling or roots, to rally around her,” Daza is quoted to have said upon returning to Manila. He was also confident that other leaders remaining overseas would follow suit. At the time, Marcos had already been gradually losing support, and speculations of a looming impeachment complaint against him had rumors of a snap election circulating.
Their efforts were not in vain, as Marcos was eventually ousted on February 25, 1986. His words were also realized as the remaining opposition leaders did shortly before, during and after the EDSA Revolution, eager to pick up the Republic and raise it anew. Daza returned to Philippine politics in 1986 under President Cory Aquino, still under the banner of the minority LP. He has served as a Representative of Northern Samar on three separate occasions from 1987 to 2019; he became the Liberal Party president from 1994 to 1999; and he also became the Governor of Northern Samar for three full terms from 2001 to 2010.
He was a budding young politician when Martial Law was declared and since then, he has been embattled and has emerged a learned veteran in the Philippine political scene. He continues to champion the cause of social justice, civil liberties and of opposing creeping authoritarian rule. For his part in leading the opposition against the Marcos dictatorship, he is among the victims recognized as motu proprio.
Farolan, Ramon. “Raul A. Daza, forever a Liberal.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. September 11, 2017. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://opinion.inquirer.net/107036/raul-daza-forever-liberal.
Muego, Benjamin N. “The “New Society” Five Years Later: The State of the Opposition.” Southeast Asian Affairs, 1978, 215-226. Accessed May 7, 2021. http://www.jstor.org/stable/27908348.
“Philippine Opposition Leader Back in Manila from the U.S.” The New York Times. August 13, 1985. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/1985/08/13/world/philippine-opposition-leader-back-in-manila-from-the-us.html.
Robles, Raissa. Marcos Martial Law: Never Again. Quezon City: Filipinos for a Better Philippines, 2016.
United Press International. “The Movement for a Free Philippines said Monday it has made plans for a demonstration and counter forum during the official visit of President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines to the United States.” United Press International Archives. July 5, 1982. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/07/05/The-Movement-for-a-Free-Philippines-said-Monday-it/6002394689600.
Yap, DJ. “Solon recalls talks with Ninoy Aquino during Marcos martial law days.” Philippine Daily Inquirer. August 20, 2017. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/924198/benigno-aquino-jr-ninoy-aquino-raul-daza-marcos-martial-law-days.
 Ramon Farolan, “Raul A. Daza, forever a Liberal,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 11, 2017, accessed May 7, 2021, https://opinion.inquirer.net/107036/raul-daza-forever-liberal.
 Ibid. Daza’s term as a Representative was originally for four years, from December 30, 1969 to December 30, 1973. However, his term actually ended on September 23, 1972, upon the imposition of Martial Law.
 Robles, Marcos Martial Law: Never Again (Quezon City: Filipinos for a Better Philippines, 2016), .
 DJ Yap, “Solon recalls talks with Ninoy Aquino during Marcos martial law days,” Philippine Daily Inquirer, August 20, 2017, accessed May 7, 2021, https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/924198/benigno-aquino-jr-ninoy-aquino-raul-daza-marcos-martial-law-days.
 Benjamin N. Muego, “The “New Society” Five Years Later: The State of the Opposition,” Southeast Asian Affairs, 1978, 218, accessed May 7, 2021, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27908348. Manglapus was in the United States when Marcos declared Martial Law. An arrest warrant was filed against him, discouraging his return, and his family had to discreetly flee to join him in exile.
 Ibid., 219. Other exiled politicians supported the various movements as well, often choosing the movement most in line with their own political beliefs to reinforce said movement more effectively..
 United Press International, “The Movement for a Free Philippines said Monday it has made plans for a demonstration and counter forum during the official visit of President Ferdinand Marcos of the Philippines to the United States,” United Press International Archives, July 5, 1982, accessed May 7, 2021, https://www.upi.com/Archives/1982/07/05/The-Movement-for-a-Free-Philippines-said-Monday-it/6002394689600.
 Yap, “Solon recalls talks with Ninoy Aquino during Marcos martial law days.” Following a heart attack he suffered while in jail, Aquino needed surgery, but he was not willing to have it in the Philippines out of fear. Aquino refusing treatment and dying in his cell would also not be favorable to Marcos, who had to acquiesce to Aquino’s demand. This allowed him to leave.
“Philippine Opposition Leader Back in Manila from the U.S.,” The New York Times, August 13, 1985, accessed May 7, 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/1985/08/13/world/philippine-opposition-leader-back-in-manila-from-the-us.html.
 Farolan, “Raul A. Daza, forever a Liberal.” Daza served as Representative from 1987 to 1999, 2010 to 2013 and finally 2016 to 2019. He succeeded Wigberto “Ka Bobby” Tañada Sr. as the head of LP.
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