MANILA — The inauguration of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday was met with protests against historical revisionism and prices hikes.
Progressive groups at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila rejected the celebration of the Marcos family, saying the dark past of the Martial Law haunts their return to power.
They originally planned to conduct a protest at Liwasang Bonifacio, also in Manila, but supporters of Marcos were already at the venue at an earlier time.
Police Lt. Col. John Giuagui told reporters that the protesters have agreed with the police to settle at Plaza Miranda to avoid clash with the pro-Marcos group.
"Hindi naman pupwedeng maghalo roon, baka magkagulo pa. So, naging maganda ‘yung pag-uusap nila na dito na lang (Plaza Miranda) gawin. We made it clear on the ground na huwag nilang pigilin ‘yung mga pupunta rito para makipagkaisa roon sa pag-express ng kanilang mga saloobin dito sa Plaza Miranda. But we make also clear na hanggang dito lang, hindi na sila pwedeng tumawid sa kabila," he said.
(It would be harder if the crowd is mixed, there will be more trouble. So, we had a good conversation for them to just do it here (Plaza Miranda). We made it clear on the ground that they should not stop those who come here to be in one in expressing their thoughts here in Plaza Miranda. But we also make it clear that they should only stay here, they can no longer cross to the other side.)
"Isa lang naman ang kagustuhan natin dito: maging maayos, mapayapa ang inagurasyon ng ating presidente. But we are also not stopping them from expressing their sentiments kung anuman ang kanilang mga saloobin."
(We only want one thing here: for the inauguration of our president to be orderly and peaceful. But we are also not stopping them from expressing their sentiments regardless of their thoughts.)
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) secretary general Renato Reyes Jr. said the presence of police and military around the inauguration venue makes the celebration of the Marcoses ironic.
"Ang pagsumpang ito ay nagaganap sa harap ng mga alegasyon ng pandaraya, pamimili ng boto, malawakang disinpormasyonan, at atake ng estado sa oposisyon," Reyes said.
(This inauguration takes place amid allegations of fraud, vote-buying, widespread disinformation, and state attacks on the opposition.)
"Ang kanilang panunumpa ay nagaganap sa panahon na sila ay pinapalibutan ng libu-libong pulis at sundalo na para bagang takot na takot ang gobyernong ito at ayaw nilang marinig ang katotohanan. Sa isang gobyernong sinasabing sila ay popular, kailangan nilang palibutan ang sarili ng napakaraming pulis at napakaraming sundalo," he added.
(The oath-taking takes place at a time when they are surrounded by thousands of police and soldiers, as though this government is terrified and doesn't want to hear the truth. For a government claiming to be popular, they have to surround themselves with too many police and soldiers.)
He said there is even no cause to celebrate because the Filipino people face various crises like oil price hikes and continuous attempts to revise history.
"Kahit maluklok si Marcos sa Malacañang, hindi nito kailanman mababago ang historical na katotohanan na nagkaroon ng diktadurang Marcos, pagnanakaw sa kaban ng bayan, malawakang paglabag sa karapatang pantao, pagbebenta ng Pilipinas sa mga dayuhan, at kahirapan sa ating bansa," Reyes said.
(Even though the Marcoses are back in Malacañang, it will never change the historical fact that there was a Marcos dictatorship, corruption, widespread human rights violations, sale of the Philippines to foreigners, and poverty in our country.)
"Wala pong pagdiriwang sa atin ngayon. Pagluluksa, mayroon. Pagdiriwang, wala. Si Marcos po, ayaw niyang kilalanin ang mga abuso ng nakaraan. Kapag hindi niya kinikilala ang mga abuso ng nakaraan, ibig sabihin niyan, malamang mauulit niya ‘yung mga abuso ng nakaraan, abuso sa karapatang pantao, monopolyo ng kapangyarihan," he continued.
(There is no celebration for us today. We are mourning. Marcos does not want to acknowledge the abuses in the past. If he does not acknowledge the abuses in the past, that means he is likely to repeat those abuses, human rights abuses, and the monopoly of power.)
"Wala pong golden years sa ilalim ng diktadura. At kahit ilang ulit niyo pang patugtugin ang ‘Bagong Lipunan’, hindi niyo mabubura ang katotohanan at ang kasaysayan. Kung meron mang dapat irebisa, hindi dapat kasaysayan ang nirerebisa, (kundi) ‘yung mga palpak na patakaran ni (Rodrigo) Duterte na nagresulta sa napakalaking utang."
(There are no golden years under the dictatorship. And no matter how many times you play ‘Bagong Lipunan’, you will not be able to erase the truth and history. If there is anything that needs to be revised, it should not be history but those faulty policies of (Rodrigo) Duterte that resulted in huge debts.)
The presidency of Marcos' father and namesake was marred by allegations of corruption and human rights violations, especially during the imposition of Martial Law from 1972. Marcos Sr. died in 1989.
Martial law survivor and former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo said that they will continue to watch out for the pronouncement and policies of the new administration, as well as call for justice for the victims of the late dictator's rule.
"We really reject the proposition during the campaign or after his victory to forget the past just for the sake of the future. Without resolving the problems and sufferings of the people during the Martial Law dictatorship, we’ll not forever ask to move forward, we will not have the strength to account for what happened before," he said.
"Makikita naman natin ang maiipon sa opposition (We'll see that the opposition will grow). We’ll be watching, responding, and reacting whenever the president or this government makes any pronouncement or decision."
Thompson Lantion, secretary general of Partido Federal ng Pilipinas, said Marcos believes in trusting the "rule of law and due process."
"Sabi nga niya nung ating kampanya, wala nang kulay asul, pula, ang kulay lang ng ating bansa ay ang bandilang Pilipinas. Kaya sa kanyang talumpati palagi, ang sinasabi niya na itataguyod ko at tinatanggap ko ang hamon ng pagkakataon upang tayo’y magkaisa upang mapaunlad at gawing mapayapa ang bansang Pilipinas," he said.
"Ito’y sa kabuuan ay sabi niya, sama-sama tayong babangong muli tungo sa kaunlaran, kapayapaan ng mahal nating bansang Pilipinas."
THE DOTS ARE NOT ALIGNING
Marcos raised the importance of "accountability in terms of human rights,” in a meeting with a representative of the United Nations.
UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez said he told Marcos during their meeting that the international body would continuously support "all efforts of the Philippines on the human rights agenda."
"He (Marcos Jr.) is very much interested, for example, in ensuring a consultation for the nomination of the new Commissioner on Human Rights. This is a topic he immediately raised," Gonzalez said in a press conference.
"He also mentioned the importance of ensuring a high level of accountability in terms of human rights. This was quite encouraging and as I mention, we reiterate the support of the United Nations," he added.
His incoming chief of the Department of National Defense has committed to prioritizing the protection of the country's sovereignty and respect for human rights, among others.
WHAT LIES AHEAD
While incoming National Security Adviser (NSA) Dr. Clarita Carlos said she is hoping that NTF-ELCAC would stop red-tagging individuals and instead focus on actually helping people on the ground, progressive group Karapatan urged the government to pursue a genuine peace negotiation with rebel groups.
“We call on her to really make good on her statement, her analysis on the roots of the armed conflict. We totally agree with her, if she thinks that the roots of the armed conflict dito sa ating bansa is about the dire inequalities, we’ve been saying that for many years already,” Progressive group Karapatan secretary Tinay Palabay.
Meanwhile, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) urged Marcos to recalibrate the war on drugs as it failed to protect the rights of victims.
“The presumptive president and the new administration, I think, would continue with the drug war. And we are just hoping that they will recalibrate their approach to the drug problem,” Commissioner Gwen Pimentel-Gana earlier told ANC’s “Rundown.”
She said the government must also continue investigating drug-related deaths. The official also urged the police to make witnesses feel safe so they could come forward.
Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility executive editor Melinda Quintos de Jesus said that human rights should be addressed.