MANILA - Former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo and dozens of activists on Tuesday slammed what they described to be the specter of the late Ferdinand Marcos' strongman rule in the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Duterte has repeatedly expressed admiration for Marcos and allowed his burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in 2016. His father Vicente had served in Marcos' pre-martial law cabinet.
The President is also an ally of the late dictators' children, former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos. Duterte has said he was willing to step down if Bongbong Marcos would win his election protest against Vice President Leni Robredo's 2016 victory.
"While the Marcoses and Duterte have worked double-time to fulfill their political ambitions, the people's demands for accountability and justice are left unanswered," Taguiwalo said in a statement.
The country, she said, "is wheeled back to the time of Marcos' martial law" amid the killings, rising prices of goods, and attacks against critics under the Duterte administration.
"These are not mere flashback or throwbacks. These are the very reasons why the Filipino people overthrew the Marcos regime," said Taguiwalo.
Taguiwalo, whose appointment as social welfare chief was rejected by the Commission on Appointments last year, was a victim of human rights abuses during martial law.
Taguiwalo joined a protest at the gates of the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City on Tuesday to mark Marcos' 101st birth anniversary. Leftist leader Satur Ocampo and activist groups Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (Carmma) were also present.
Only the Marcos family and supporters were allowed to enter the cemetery, military officials there told ABS-CBN News.
Marcos' critics are gearing up for a bigger rally on September 21, the anniversary of Marcos' 1972 martial law declaration. The regime was marked by killings, enforced disappearances and other human rights abuses, and plunder, among others.
-- With reports from Arra Perez and Jerome Lantin, ABS-CBN News