[Reflection] Pagpupugay at Pasasalamat sa mga Bayani at Martir ng Batas Militar: A Review

Heroes are made not born.

They are those who let no obstacle prevent them from pursuing the values they have chosen. Some simply happened to find themselves at a crossroads, confronted with the turbulent events of their time but chose to take a path less traveled and even offering their own lives.

One needs not to be extraordinary to do heroic deed. Any Juan dela Cruz, Maria or Jose – workers, farmers, fisherfolks, students, professionals, church people, informal settlers or street hawkers can make a big difference.

But there are many of them who remain anonymous until now. They are the NAMELESS —whose deeds are not known to many. Remembering them may not be enough. But reliving their legacies in us is one way to honor them.

And this is what the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines together with the NAMELESS HEROES AND MARTYRS, INC. and the DAKILA Collectives admirably did when they paid tribute to the HEROES and MARTYRS of MARTIAL LAW on September 30, 2014 at the Aldaba Recital Hall, University of the Philippines-Diliman.

The event brought together Martial Law heroes and the new generation of human rights defenders to commemorate the 42nd Anniversary of the Declaration of Martial Law through a matinee of songs, dances and theatrical play under the brilliant direction of UP Prof. Apolonio Chua.

The songs of protest like Batingaw, Sangandaan, Patak ng Ulan at Huling Awit were once again resonated on the stage by Color It Red vocalist Cooky Chua and the progressive labour theater group, Teatro Pabrika to awaken in the audience the Filipino spirit of patriotism.

May Tibak At May Tibak and Buhay Na Inalay Sa Bayan from LEAN: The Musical which run deep into our Filipino consciousness and stir intense emotions of sensitivities were given new life through the creative dance performances of the Collective Arts of Students and Thespians (CAST) from University of Makati by efficaciously translating the sufferings and struggle of the Filipino people under Martial law into series of movement and dramatic expression.

But what makes the event different from the previous commemorations is that it set the stage for the Reader’s theatre where excerpts from selected literatures were read by character roles with no needs for costumes and props for the audience to relive the social upheavals of that time that gave rise to popular discontent and resistance.

Tutubi, Tutubi ‘Wag Kang Magpahuli sa Mamang Salbahe’ (Dragonfly, Dragonfly, Don’t Allow Yourself to Get Caught by a Bad Guy) by Palanca awardee Jun Cruz Reyes, gives a satirical account of the irrationality of the power structure and how a high school student’s curiosity has turned into a conviction of joining the underground movement.

The “Written to Myself During a Fit of Depression” by former political prisoner, Doris Baffrey, a letter she wrote for herself relating her traumatic experiences while languishing in jail for almost five years which left a thick scar or welt on her very existence in the same way that many survivors of martial-law were plagued by intense, recurring nightmares. Ms. Baffrey was implicated in the PICC bombing during the American Society of Travel Agents Convention in 1980.

A more vivid account of torture was best described in the poem, ‘TORTYUR- Sa mga Kuko ng Karimlan’ written by another Palanca awardee and political activist, Levy Balgos dela Cruz which shows how torture is being used as a form of punishment until it breaks the person’s will to live.

The agony of a wife who has to pretend as a cousin of her husband in order to claim his remains after he was summarily executed by the military is given a human face and heart in the play, ‘Buwan at Baril’ by Chris Millado.

The family memoir, ‘Subversive Lives’ by the Quimpos reminds us of the personal costs at best illuminates an on-going struggle mediated by familial experiences and the sacrifices of those who joined the movement.

We owe it to those who stood and fought against the dictator in order for freedom and democracy to live. Their sacrifices and love for country are the reasons why the “selfie” generation today have the freedom to click and post whatever they want in social media. But lest we forget that the responsibility to make the country freer, humane and just now rests on our shoulders.

Salute to the Unsung Heroes of Martial Law!
Kudos to the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines!
Never Again to Martial Law!

Pagpupugay sa mga Bayani ng Martial Law


[Reflection] Five Reasons Why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani

The commemoration of the 42nd anniversary of the Martial Law Declaration has once again revived the debate over whether former president Ferdinand Marcos should be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).

Although, President Benigno Aquino III has made it clear that the late president would not be laid to rest at the national pantheon under his watch, Sen. Bongbong Marcos, the late president’s son still expressed optimism that PNoy would soon have a change of heart and would finally give his father a state burial.

For those who were lucky not to be born yet during the dictatorial regime of the late president might be puzzled on what this fuss is all about that is seemingly dividing the country once again.

Some who are fortunate to have lived to tell their stories of sufferings during Martial Law are firm in their stand to deny Marcos of a hero’s burial. Others who have had enough of political bickering are now calling for forgiveness and reconciliation in order for the country to move forward.

However, the controversy here lies not on the very act of burying the remains of the late president at the Libingan ng mga Bayani but whether to be or not to be considered a hero in the context of a possible state burial.

Let me just give you some logical thoughts on this issue. Here are the five reasons why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani:

#1 Republic Act No. 289 provides the main reason for the national pantheon as provided in its Section 1 which states that, “to perpetuate the memory of all the Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generation still unborn.”

In short, it is reserved for those whom the nation honors for their service to the country. Marcos as a former President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is not automatically qualified for there is also a disqualification clause that says that any personnel who dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged from the service or who were convicted by final judgment of the offense involving moral turpitude will be unentitled to be interred in the national pantheon.

Considering this very intent of the law and given the historical facts of what had transpired during Martial Law and the way the late president and his first family were chased out of Malacanang and out of the country through People Power Revolution, Marcos would hardly consider a hero worth emulating and an inspiration to the Filipinos and to the next generation.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is desecrating the memories of our Filipino Heroes.




If this reason is not enough, we can go to the next one.

#2 Martial Law remains one of the darkest episodes in Philippine history. There were 3,257 victims of extra-judicial killings, 35,000 tortured, and 70,000 incarcerated under Marcos’ dictatorship.

In fact, Republic Act No. 10368 was recently passed by Philippine Congress as recognition for the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of human rights violations under the Marcos regime.

Even long before that, 9,500 human rights victims who filed class suit against the Marcoses already won $2 billion in damages in a Honolulu court which were affirmed by a United States Circuit Court in Hawaii. in its 2011 ruling.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is an insult to the thousands of martial law victims.




If you are still unconvinced, let us then talk about the economy under the Marcos regime.

#3 The prosperity and progress under the Marcos regime is an illusion. In 1974, the poverty rate was 24%. By 1980 it was 40%. When Marcos assumed the presidency, the country’s foreign debt was US$1 billion. When Marcos fled to Hawaii, the country was heavily in debt with US$25 Billion. The bulk of these borrowed funds, according to sources had been stashed abroad.

Not only that the Marcoses and its associates were accused of plundering an estimated $10 billion from the Philippine coffers, “Imeldific” is now synonymous to extravagant displays of wealth, sometimes to the point of vulgarity because of her lavish shopping trips to New York City with a huge entourage, spending millions on jewelry, clothes, and shoes.

It in noted that as of now, the Presidential Commission on Good Government had recovered 164 billion pesos (about $4 billion) since its creation, including a 150-carat ruby and a diamond tiara, hundreds of millions of dollars hidden in Swiss bank accounts and prime real estate in New York City.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is a slap in the face of the millions of Filipinos who have suffered in grinding poverty while still paying for the debts of the Marcoses.




If that is still not sufficient enough, let’s see if you really know our history.

# 4 Having Marcos buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani would mean rewriting our history. This will require revision of all history textbooks to glorify Marcos and depict the Martial Law as a peaceful and prosperous period in Philippine history.

It is not only a waste of public money but it will make our historians look like a bunch of fools. Filipinos are known to have short memories and are the most forgiving of people – a character that will always allow thieves, liars, scalawags and rascals to take advantage, but it does not mean we should stay ignorant and be naïve in allowing our history to be rewritten by someone with some personal vested interests.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is a shameless attempt to rewrite history.




If you are still not convinced yet, you are either too slow to get it or you are just simply stupid to understand that this issue is merely a desperate attempt of the Marcoses to reclaim their old political power.

#5 Declaring Marcos as a hero, would serve well not only the personal but also the political interests of his family. It will definitely exonerate them from their past crimes.

Sen. Bongbong Marcos was quite open with his intention to run for President in 2016. He could very well project himself as THE SON OF A HERO as veteran journalist Ms. Raissa Robles described him in her blog.

That will also lift the burden to Mrs. Marcos from hiding her extravagance – taken from our own pocket of course and will still be entitled with a state pension as if she direly needed it. Not to mention that she is the second richest congressperson behind, only to boxing icon Rep. Manny Pacquiao.

A hero’s burial for the former dictator is a mockery to the intelligence of the Filipino electorate.




I can still give more reasons why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. But it will be a waste of my time if the one reading this post is not smart enough to grasp these five major points. I will just leave it to you, my readers, to make your own choice. But just remember what Edmund Burke once said,

“Those who ignore history are bound to repeat it.”

Marcos burial site in Batac

Courtesy of www.aljazeera.com

[Reflection] When money is not enough

A country in a democratic transition must come to terms with its past in order to move forward.

Addressing past atrocities and injustices is considered a crucial part of social healing and national reconciliation. Acknowledging the misdeeds especially human rights violations is one significant step towards guaranteeing the right of the victims for effective remedies.

However, remedial measures take various forms of reparation. One way is through compensation. This serves both as an acknowledgment of the human rights violations and the sanctioning of the state for allowing or for directly committing such violations.

After more than four decades, the Philippine government through the passage of Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 finally recognizes “the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims” of human rights violations during martial law and “restore the victims’ honor and dignity.”

Compensation provides not only material but also symbolic political and social benefits. First, it helps bring immediate economic relief to victims and their families and allow them to meet the basic survival needs. Secondly, the monetary compensation may serve as a deterrent for future abuses by imposing financial sanctions for committing such violations.

Although harms or injuries resulting from human rights violations are often irreparable but compensation can help restore the victims’ dignity by knowing that their rights are recognized and the violations committed against them are being atoned.

But lest we forget that reparations are not primarily about money, but to publicly acknowledge the wrongdoings and to guarantee its non-repetition. It is a necessary component of the healing process as it signifies a concrete step on the part of the state to make amends and take full responsibility for the historical tragedies like Martial Law.

Compensation must therefore serve to continuously promote and protect human rights. For money can’t buy justice but it can help the victim to endlessly pursue it.


irr of ra 10368

[Video] Lest We Forget: Victims of Martial Law – youtube

Lest We Forget: 

Martial Law and its victims

ON THE 63rd anniversary of the declaration of December 10 as International Human Rights Day, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism releases a 13-minute video in memory and in honor of those who fought for democracy and freedom during the dark uncertain days of Martial Law.

The video is a compilation of the stories of six human rights victims or their families, all of them part of the 10,000 human rights victims who were recently awarded $1,000 each as part of a settlement against the estate of the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

More than the story of anguish and terror and tragedy, these are stories of ordinary men and women who lived extraordinary lives. Too, these are stories of wives who became widows, and children who became orphans. Most of all, these are stories that the victims could only wish they could forget, even as they hope we all will remember and learn.

Interviews conducted by Malou Mangahas; camerawork by Winona Cueva. Editing by PCIJ interns Florenz Sison and Darlene Basingan; score by Florenz Sison.

Courtesy of http://pcij.org.

[Reflection] The struggle of memory against forgetting

Promotional Poster of Beinte Singko. Image from http://www.tfdp.net.

By Darwin Mendiola

Speech delivered during the Opening Ceremony of Beinte Singko at UP Diliman

Remembering the Past is looking at the future

My organization, the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances is taking part in this memory project for the week-long celebration of the International Human Rights Day for one good reason. We believe a society that has experienced a traumatic politcal situation must preserve and come to terms with its past in order to rekindle and rebuild a hope for the future. To borrow the words of Milan Kundera that “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”. This, what I believe, is the main objective of Beinte Singko: The Festival of Memories, Creation of New Stories. This is especially true to victims of enforced disappearance.

“Hindi na po bago sa atin ang usaping ito. Marami na pong taga-UP ang naging biktima ng sapilitang pagkawala. Sino po ang makakalimot kina Atty. Hermon Lagman, Jessica Sales,  Rizalina Ilagan, Geraldo Faustino at marami pa na sapilitang iwinala sa ilalim ng Martial Law o nina Jonas Burgos, Sherlyn Cadapan at Karen Empeno na iwinala sa ilalim ng administrasyon ni Gng. Arroyo. Isa po itong karumaldumal na paglabag sa karapatang pantao.”

Enforced disappearance is one of the cruelest forms if not the cruelest violation of human rights that humanity has ever experienced. It is a multiple and continuous violation of the basic human rights not only of the direct victims but also of their families as well as the larger society.

It inflicts enduring and untold sufferings to the victims as they are removed from the protection of the law and denied access to legal safeguards. They are often tortured and in constant fear for their lives and haplessly put at the mercy of their captors. Sometimes, they are murdered without leaving any shred of evidence.

It also brings ill-effects to the victims’ families for not knowing the fate and whereabouts of their loved ones. They are placed in limbo between hope and despair, praying and waiting, pleading and demanding for answer that may never come. They are not only deprived of the right to mourn but also to find closure.

Enforced disappearance has a particular devastating impact on women and children. For women who are usually left behind to tend the families, they often bear the brunt of the serious economic hardships. They are dispossessed of legal status to obtain pensions or other means of support because of the absence of death certificate. When women are victims of disappearance themselves, they are particularly vulnerable to sexual and other forms of violence. The children of the disappeared are also victims. The disappearance of a child or the loss of a parent as a consequence of enforced disappearance, are serious violations of child’s rights.

It also causes fear and terror among the people belonging to the same community.

Enforced disappearance was first introduced by the Nazis during the Second World War under the Nacht und Nebel (Night and Fog) Decree where hundreds of thousands of people were made to disappear throughout Nazi Germany’s occupied territories. It spread around the world and has become one of the wicked features of military dictatorships and authoritarian regimes particularly in the Latin America.

Enforced disappearance continues to happen globally.

“Patuloy po itong nangyayari sanmang sulok ng mundo.”

Many governments still employed this atrocious practice as a tool of state repression and political witch hunt. It is a major human rights concern of 83 countries around world based on the 2010 report of the UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances, the first thematic UN body created in 1982 to monitor the incidences of enforced disappearances worldwide. Many of these cases occur in 27 countries of Asia, a continent that has the highest number of cases submitted to the UNWGEID in recent years. Unfortunately, Asia lacks a strong regional mechanism for redress and no domestic laws penalizing disappearance as a separate and autonomous criminal offense. This condition perpetuates a climate of impunity that allows perpetrators to escape accountability.

The very existence of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD), a regional federation of organizations of the families of the disappeared and human rights advocates working directly on the issue of enforced disappearance in Asia, refutes the claim of many states that enforced disappearance is already a thing of the past and merely a Latin American experience.

 A Regional Response in the Struggle against Impunity

In Asia, enforced disappearances remain widespread and unabated.  The narrowing democratic spaces in many Asian countries have consequently resulted to the alarming increase of human rights violations in the region including enforced disappearance.

While many governments in Asia have started to democratize and recognize human rights as an important cornerstone of governance, there is still a wide disjoint between the state policies and day-to-day practices. It is the state’s overemphasis on security and stability continues that creates a huge roadblock in the development of human rights. The war on terror policy is one of the most convenient excuses for the brazen disregard human dignity and freedom.

What makes the situation all the more difficult is the absence of regional as well as national human rights mechanisms which are necessary recourses for redress. The struggle of the organizations of families and human rights organizations in their respective countries in the fight for accountability and the end to impunity has given birth to Asia-wide federation as a cogent response to the phenomenon of disappearances in the region.

Our efforts together with the similar formations in other continents have made possible the recognition of the importance and urgency to forge a global response through the adoption of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance in 2006 by the United Nations General Assembly and entered into force on 23 December 2010. To date, this international human rights instrument has 90 signatories and 30 States parties. However, only 13 of these States Parties have recognized the competences of the Committee.

Thus AFAD has continuously campaigned for the signatures and ratifications of the Convention and for its eventual universal application.

The domestic road towards the universal protection against Enforced Disappearance

In the Philippines, one glaring problem for its continuing commission is the complete lack of accountability. Not only that cases of enforced or involuntary disappearance are by their very nature difficult to investigate and prosecute, it persisted and has been carried out with total impunity. The perpetrators of this heinous offense have absolute impunity because there is no physical evidence extant to pin the blame on any person. This proves that the existing legal measures that provide safeguard for lives and liberties are inadequate and insufficient to combat impunity.

For almost two decades, the organization of families of the disappeared and other human rights groups have steadfastly lobbied Congress to enact a law defining and penalizing enforced or involuntary disappearance.  It was filed and re-filed in Philippine Congress but lamentably was not acted on by previous Congresses.

The Philippine bill against enforced disappearance is one of the two existing bills in Asia. The other one is in Nepal. If enacted into law by the Philippien government, it will be the first anti-enforced disappearance law in region and can set a good example to other Asian governments.

However, it has just recently that it sees the light of day with approval of the Senate on its third and last reading the Senate Bill 2817 on July 26 and the adoption of the Joint Committees of Human Rights and Justice of the approved House Bill 5886 on August 17 as a substitute bill for plenary deliberations.

This is indeed a welcome development. But it also give us more reasons to continue our work as we continuously urge Asian governments to immediately sign and ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons Against Enforced Disappearance without reservation and to enact a domestic legislation without further delay.

There are at least 10 reasons why government should do so:

  1. Both measures define the act enforced or involuntary disappearance. It limits commission of forced disappearance to deprivation of liberty for political reasons by agents of the State or by private persons or group of persons acting with the authorization, support or acquiescence of the State. It is the recognition that the state is duty bound and has the primary obligation to promote, protect and fulfill the rights of its people;
  1. Both consider enforced disappearance as a continuing offense as long as the perpetrators continue to conceal the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person and such circumstances have not been determined with certainty. This means that an act of enforced disappearance committed in the past continue to occur until the fate and whereabouts of the victim is verified and that that the prosecution of persons responsible for the enforced disappearance shall not prescribe unless the victim surfaces alive, in which case the prescriptive period (in this case 25 years) shall start to run from the date of his or her reappearance;
  1. Both are consistent with the principle of command responsibility. It holds the immediate hold any person involved in an enforced disappearance criminally responsible, as well as their superiors who knew or should have known what they were doing, and should have prevented, investigated and punished the subordinates for wrongdoing. The disputable presumption of knowledge by the superior of the acts of the subordinate and to eliminate the presumption of regularity in the performance of official duties in prosecution of cases involving enforced disappearance;
  1. Both guarantee the non-derogability of rights against enforced disappearance. This means that the right of any person not to be subjected to enforced disappearance and no exceptional circumstances, not even a state of war, may be invoked as justification;
  1. Both clearly differentiate between enforced disappearance committed as part of a massive or systematic practice and that of isolated and sporadic cases committed outside of the context of armed conflict. Thus it characterizes enforced disappearance as a crime against humanity only when the actions involved are committed within the framework of a massive or systematic practice and otherwise considered as an international crime;
  1. Both provide a number of protection and preventive measures such as to require official Up-to-date register of all persons detained or confined; to visit to or inspection of all places of detention by the National Human Rights Institution; to institute stringent safeguards for the protection of people deprived of their liberty; declare unlawful an order from a superior officer or a public authority causing the commission of enforced disappearance and therefore such order cannot be invoked as a justifying circumstance; prevent the accused from influencing the investigation and prosecution of the cases, the bill provides for his/her preventive suspension upon the filing of the information or complaint in the proper court; and the guarantee of non-refouler;
  1. Both recognize the rights of victims as well as the duties of the state to investigate, to prevent and to hold the perpetrators accountable. Both provide specific rights to the victims such as the right of a person under detention; free access to information by families, lawyers or human rights organizations at most expedient means without restrictions or court order; and rights to receive indemnification, medical care and rehabilitation. It also bestows duties to the state such as to certify in writing on the results of Inquiry into the reported disappeared person’s whereabouts; duty of inquest/ investigating public officer or any judicial or quasi judicial employee; provide appropriate medical care and rehabilitation; and to render monetary compensation to the victims and ensure restitution of their honor and reputation. The Philippine government is likewise duty bound to comply with the obligations arising from treaty bodies in which Philippines is a state-party;
  1. Both requires the state to train  law enforcement personnel on the content of the law and the absolute prohibition to commit enforced disappearance;
  1. Both exclude any investigation, trial, decision for any other legal or administrative process before the appropriate international court or agencies under applicable international human rights and humanitarian law from double jeopardy rule; and
  1. Both have an Oversight Committee to ensure compliance with the provision of the law and/ or the treaty.

Establishing these legal measures and mechanisms both at the international and national level is just one big step towards ending impunity for human rights violations. This step may not bring back to life those who are made to disappear but these will certainly help prevent others from suffering the same fate, sparing their families from the perpetual agonies of the uncertainty and freeing the society from fear. Thus, the struggle against forgetting and the struggle against impunity must go on…

[Reflection] The Lesson of History

Defying the dictator. Photo from bulatlat.com

There is a saying that says “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” But I believe that those who learn from the lesson of history can create their own.

Yesterday was the commemoration of the 39th anniversary of Martial Law. For the younger generation, it maybe just one of the blurred pages in our history books, but for those who have witnessed these dark moments, it is certainly unforgettable.

Others might think that Martial law was not bad as it seemed but it is no doubt remains the symbol of oppression and repression in the country. It was the deathbed of our country’s freedom and democracy.

But after almost three decades, nothing seems to change.

Human rights violations are still rampant. Political beliefs and activities may appear to be tolerated but these are still the main reasons why activists are still put under surveillance, arrested, detained, forcibly disappeared or even killed. Although, there are now judicial remedies and human rights legislation that are supposed to provide better human rights protection but prosecution and conviction of human rights cases are still almost nil. Many if not all of the perpetrators of the past and recent violations remain scot-free while the victims and their families continue to suffer the consequences of their traumatic experiences.

We may now have the freedom of the press but many journalists have to spill their own blood for exposing the truth.

Many are still poor because the inequitable distribution of wealth is just getting wider. Development is meant to put people deeper in the mire of poverty. Our natural resources are no longer the country’s wealth but commodities for international capital and market.

Congress is now back in business but most of the time, it is still subservient to the interest of those who hold the nation’s coffer.  In fact, the Marcoses who are still enjoying the fruits of their ill-gotten wealth are back in the corridor of power.

We may have another Aquino in Malacanang but he is keen of preserving his name than preserving democracy.

Martial Law may be synonymous to a nightmare. But it made the Filipinos dream for a just, humane and free society. It made them value themselves, their dignity, their freedom and their rights. It ignited within themselves the fire of revolution that paved the road to EDSA and the downfall of the Marcos dictatorship.

Martial law may still be a painful memory. But it serves as a reminder for all of us that the real power lies in us.

The only way to ensure that Martial Law will not happen again nor by any chance it will rear its ugly face once more is for us to know our rights, to stand and defend these rights through individual and collective actions.

History is said to be unfolding.

But we should not let it move by itself.

We have to create it.

[Book] Fragments of History: Resurgence of Student Radicalism during Martial Law


This book was written by Patricio N. Abinales of the Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University in 2008.  It was an attempt to trace the process by which the Communist Party of the Philippines revived its most dynamic “sector”, the Youth and Students (YS) during the early years of the Marcos dictatorship. Here, Abinales tried to analyzed the party strategy of “legal struggle” in creating an array of youth and students’ political participation  which later became the backbone of the resurgence of radical politics in schools and campuses from 70s to 90s. Abisales also pointed out that this strategy was not without its problems and difficulties especially with reference to CPP’s tenet on the revolutionary leadership based on the dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry where YS movement plays only secondary supportive roles.