MANILA — Presidential candidate Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. denied Saturday spreading false information about the events under the administration of his father.
During a town hall meeting in Marikina, Marcos Jr. was asked how he can be trusted amid the continued spread of disinformation.
"Iyong kredibilidad ko ang pagagandahin ko kasi unang-una, wala kayong naririnig na fake news (mula) sa akin. Ang dami sinisi sa amin, pinapalitan namin ang kasaysayan. Tingnan niyo kasi kung saan nangyari iyon. Wala naman kami na sinasabi na ganoon," he said in reply.
(I will improve my credibility because first of all, you don't hear any fake news from me. Many have been accusing us of trying to revise history. But look at where those information come from. We're not saying anything like that.)
In 2010, Marcos Jr. said the country benefited from the imposition of Martial Law from 1972 by his father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
“Objective indicators” such as the poverty rate, the Philippines’ international status, and the government’s financial situation while his father was in power show that the country was in better days then, he said at that time.
Public records show the administration of Marcos Sr. from 1965 to 1986 embezzled as much as $10 billion and committed thousands of rights abuses including torture and killings, some victims of which are still alive today.
The Marcoses were ousted from power in 1986 through the People Power Revolution.
Experts say propagandists of Marcos Jr. are using social media to sanitize history. Journalists and data analysts have reported on false and misleading content across social media platforms to whitewash martial law atrocities.
In 2020, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica said Marcos Jr allegedly asked the defunct political consulting firm to rebrand his family's image on social media. The Marcos camp has denied this claim.
At a Pandesal Forum for the media in October 2017, Marcos Jr. said, "Many revisionism happened since 1986. Even from 1983, they are revising history already. So, of course, we want to fix that."
"We will not provide a version. We will provide the truth," he added, as he expressed hope the family will recover the complete diary of his father that, according to him, will show the situation then.
"The truth is what really happened during my father’s administration, what were his projects, what he did, how he helped the country, what his faults were and the right things he did," Marcos Jr. said.
More than two years later, he called for a revision of Philippine textbooks.
The Commission on Human Rights had said that “the passage and enforcement of Republic Act 10368 in 2013 is the highest acknowledgement of the State that such transgressions happened under Marcos regime.”
RA 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act provided for P10 billion in reparation for victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime.
The same law required a commission created under the CHR to coordinate with the Department of Education and Commission on Higher Education to ensure teaching of “Martial Law atrocities” and the lives and sacrifices of human rights victims from elementary to college.
Academicians, activists and other groups and sectors have warned the public against the Marcos family's attempt at either revising or distorting history.
Marcos Jr. said at the Marikina event that it is difficult to control the spread of wrong information on social media.
But he said he trusts the youth to be discerning, and advised them to ask older people about their experiences under martial law.
"Lagi ko sinasabi na basta huwag lang kayo maniwala sa akin kasi ama ko iyan eh, siyempre, kakampi ko siya," he said.
(I always tell them to not believe only me because that's my father, so of course, I'll take his side.)
A Department of Education official had said that human rights abuses under the Marcos regime are being taught under the K to 12 program, even as the DepEd and Commission on Higher Education have been urged by the Akbayan Youth to strengthen the teaching of martial law in schools to counter efforts of historical revisionism.
Meanwhile, in the same meeting, Marcos Jr. said he would offer retraining to overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who lost their jobs during the pandemic — a program that's already being implemented by the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority.
The new OFWs department should also handle programs related to the families of overseas workers, Marcos added.
"Ilalagay natin sa loob ng Department of Migrant Workers pati iyong mga housing program, scholarship program na sinabi ko. Lahat ng benepisyo para sa pamilya naman ng ating OFW," he said.
(We will include in the Department of Migrant Workers the housing program and scholarship program that I mentioned. All the benefits for OFWs' families.)
People who attended the Marikina event said they will not allow Marcos Jr., who is leading in pre-elections surveys, to be cheated in the coming elections.
— Report from Joyce Balancio, ABS-CBN News