Martyred ILWU officers added to Philippine ‘Wall of Remembrance’

On November 30th, Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, two activists officers from Local 37 were added to the roster of heroes and martyrs of the Bantayog ng Mga Bayani in the Philippines, 30 years after their assassination by an agent of Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Domingo and Viernes are the first Filipino-Americans to have their names included on the Wall of Remembrance honoring those who died fighting the Marcos regime.

Domingo and Viernes were assassinated in broad daylight while working at their union hall in Seattle on June 1, 1981. Local 37 was a longtime ILWU local that affiliated with the Inlandboatmen’s Union in 1987. At the time they represented approximately 1,500 cannery workers at fish processing facilities in Alaska. The pair led efforts forge closer ties between the heavily repressed Philippine labor movement and the ILWU. The role of the Marcos regime was uncovered by the efforts of the Committee for Justice for Domingo and Viernes, a grassroots organization started by the friends and family of Domingo and Viernes including Domingo’s widow, Terri Mast. The committee filed and eventually won a civil lawsuit against the dictator and his wife Imelda. The trial uncovered evidence of the Marcos regimes role in the assassination along with evidence that US intelligence agencies were well aware of a network of Philippine agents actively working within the United States to intimidate and repress anti-Marcos forces in the US.

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