At the peak of the snap presidential election, a group of disguised assassins tracked down around the square and along the snickets of San Jose, Antique, where the center of power in the province is located, and executed a dynamic and promising young leader of his time, Evelio B. Javier.
The incident was instrumental in overthrowing the dwindling Marcos dictatorship and sparked out the EDSA People Power Revolution a few days later.
Javier's death heated Visayan support for already overwhelming confetti propaganda from Manila and other parts of Luzon.
Likened to Ninoy
Javier was said to be compared by the Panay Island to statesman Ninoy Aquino whose death provoked the heightening outrage of people against the relentless Marcos administration to its limit.
When his remains were buried in Antique, igniting support followed his funeral procession to the ceremony bearing their yellow bands tied to their wrist and wearing yellow shirts, similar to Ninoy's.
They played Javier's favorite song, "Impossible Dream," with their candles lit and fists clenched while expressing their love for Evelio and anger at the perpetrators of his death.
While many were mourning his loss, his supporters protested and sought justice, believing that the killers were allies of former President Marcos and Antique's most powerful.
After all, the impossible dream was turned into reality when former President Marcos was ousted from office. Javier died at the age of 43.
Who is Evelio Javier?
Evelio Javier was born on October 14, 1942, in Barangay Lanag, Hamtic, Anique, a community now named after him.
He was married to Precious Bello Lotilla of Sibalom, Antique and had two children.
Being a son of a prosecutor and a teacher, he took up a Bachelor of Arts Major in History and Government at the Ateneo de Manila University (AdMU), where he also finished his Bachelor of Laws.
After passing the bar, he became a college professor, a successful lawyer and eventually entered politics.
Javier ran for Antique governor and won with a landslide vote. At the age of 28, he was then the country's youngest provincial chief executive.
He held the office for eight years and did not seek reelection but chose to pursue graduate studies at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
He returned to the country after Ninoy was killed on the tarmac of Manila International Airport. Javier was a close friend of the Aquino family.
Return to local political landscape
He tried to obtain the position of Antique assemblyman in the Philippine National Assembly when he returned to the Philippines but lost to Marcos-ally and kingpin Arturo Pacificador. But seven months after his death, the Supreme Court posthumously declared him the winner.
Javier supported the candidacy of Corazon Aquino, the widow of Ninoy, during the 1986 snap presidential election against then-President Marcos. He was also named Aquino's campaign director in Antique.
While speaking with his people on the grounds of the provincial capital, three to four masked gunmen showed up and gunned him down. His body had 24 bullet wounds.
The plaza marks the precise point where Javier was slain by his assailants, allegedly under the orders of Pacificador.
Pacificador eluded apprehension after he and eight others were tagged as the people behind the killing. But, while Pacificador submitted himself to the authorities after over a decade, the prosecution failed to nail him down for the murder of his nemesis.
The Antique Regional Trial Court dismissed charges against him while his co-accused were indicted guilty with life sentences.
The Javier Legacy
His younger brother, Exequiel or "Box Ex," benefitted heavily from the loss for winning as a member of the House of Representatives from 1987 to 1998 and 2001 to 2010, and as governor from 1998 to 2001 and 2010 to 2015.
However, he was removed by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Commission on Elections (COMELEC) for violating the Omnibus Election Code.
He sought reelection in 2016 but lost to his then-vice governor, Rhodora Cadiao. He ran the following election for congressman but lost to then-topnotch Senator Loren Legarda.
His son and Evelio's nephew, Paolo Everardo Javier, also served as congressman from 2010 to 2019. Nonetheless, he was also defeated by Cadiao.
February 11 was declared as Governor Evelio B. Javier Day, a special holiday in the four provinces of Panay island: Antique, Aklan, Capiz, and Iloilo.
A minor domestic airport in the provincial capital was also named after him.
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