February 11 every year is a holiday in Iloilo and the rest of the provinces in Panay in celebration of Evelio Javier Day. It is one of four local holidays observed in Iloilo.
Late President Corazon Aquino signed into law Republic Act 7601 which declares February 11 as a special non-working holiday in the provinces of Iloilo, Aklan, Capiz, and Antique.
The law entitled “An Act Declaring February 11 of each year Governor Evelio B. Javier Day, a Special Non-working Public Holiday in the provinces of Antique, Capiz, Aklan and Iloilo” was approved June 3, 1992 in commemoration of the slain governor of Antique.
Born in October 14, 1942, Evelio Javier is a lawyer, civil servant, and politician who served as governor of Antique from 1971 to 1980.
In the 1986 presidential campaign, he was an opposition leader against the candidacy of former president Ferdinand Marcos. The snap election was held on February 7, 1986, and four days later, as the vote count is still ongoing, assassins killed Javier in the plaza of San Jose de Buenavista, Antique.
The plaza fronting Antique Provincial Capitol is named Evelio Javier Freedom Park in honor of the Antiqueno hero.
Martyr of Martial Law
One of the martyrs of Martial Law, Javier was assassinated on February 11, 1986. Three masked men opened fire at the governor in front of New Capitol building in San Jose, Antique. Sustaining gunshot wounds, Javier was able to scamper across the park in front of the capitol and into the comfort room of a shop. He was cornered there by the gunmen, who riddled his body with multiple shots.
His death further fueled the people’s anger of the Marcos regime which resulted in the ouster of the dictator in the People Power Revolution.
Champion of the Poor
Dubbed as ‘champion of the poor’, Javier was beloved by the Antiqueños. Nicknamed as ‘Beloy’ by his close friends and families, he was known for his public service, eloquent speaking skills, and charisma.
He was famous for his Kinaray-a quote, “Ang pulitika bukot burugasan, bukot paranubli-un” which roughly means “Politics is not a livelihood and inheritance.”