Over 1,000 educators, scholars vow to defend martial law history vs revision

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 22 2022 11:01 AM


MANILA – More than a thousand educators and scholars have signed a manifesto vowing to defend historical truth and academic freedom, as they fear that the apparent victory of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr in the May 9 presidential elections would spell more attempts at erasing “memories of plunder and human rights violations” committed under his father’s martial law rule.

This comes after Marcos named his running mate, vice presidential frontrunner Sara Duterte-Carpio, as the next secretary of the Department of Education (DepEd), raising concerns that changes would be made in the teaching of history, especially the Marcos dictatorship years.

As of late Saturday, 1,650 have signed the manifesto, identifying themselves as mostly teaching personnel and scholars from higher learning institutions in the Philippines and abroad.

Oscar Campomanes, a professor at the Ateneo de Manila University and one of the initiators of the manifesto, said educators and scholars would “resist all forms of censorship such as book-banning, and oppose all attempts at red-tagging.”

“We want to bring out a strong statement in defense of historical truth against the unrelenting efforts to revise the historical record of plunder and human rights violations during Martial Law and the entire Marcos era,” he said in a statement issued with the manifesto.

According to the manifesto, the win of the Marcos-Duterte tandem in the May 9 polls “signals an intensified struggle over historical knowledge and pedagogy, [and] the erasure of traumatic personal and collective memories of plunder and human rights violations under Martial Law” declared by Marcos Sr.

“As scholars and academics, we oppose all forms of disinformation that rely on fabrication, manipulation, deceptive rebranding, and propaganda using social media and other digital and information technologies,” it said.

“We pledge to combat all attempts at historical revisionism that distort and falsify history to suit the dynastic interests of the Marcoses and their allies and to fortify their power,” it added.

The signatories also vowed to protect the “integrity and independence” of educational, historical and cultural institutions such as the DepEd, Commission on Higher Education, National Historical Commission of the Philippines, National Library of the Philippines and National Archives of the Philippines, among others.

The academics said they would “preserve books, documents, records, artefacts, archives, and other source materials pertaining to the Martial Law period and other aspects of the Marcos era.”

“We shall critically intervene in the vetting, writing, and teaching of history and other textbooks and educational materials,” they added.

Despite legal proof of atrocities and ill-gotten wealth during his father's strongman rule, Marcos in January 2020 called for a revision of Philippine textbooks, where his father's repressive regime is retold as a grim part of the country's history. 

In a media forum, Marcos claimed then that it was his family that was a "victim" of historical revisionism, asserting that accusations against them have been unproven. 

Earlier this week, the head of the government’s intelligence gathering arm accused Adarna House of “subtly [radicalizing] the Filipino children against our government” after the publishing company began offering discounts on martial law-related books.

On Saturday, ACT Teachers Rep. France Castro called on Duterte-Carpio to restore Philippine history as a dedicated subject in high school.

The DepEd removed Philippine history as a separate subject in high school in 2014, following the implementation of the K-12 curriculum.

Philippine history continues to be taught as a dedicated subject in Grades 5 and 6. In high school, its teaching is integrated into other social studies topics such as world history and Asian studies, according to the DepEd.

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