MANILA – The Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party urged Filipinos to reject efforts by former president Ferdinand Marcos’ family to “paint a rosy picture” of the dictator’s two-decade regime, a day before the country marks the 48th year since the late strongman declared martial law.
“We must not allow the Marcoses to continue to steal. We must not allow them to rob us of our truth and history,” Akbayan said in a statement on Sunday.
“Marcos was a dictator. It is a fact," the group said.
"The torture, murder and plunder that were all committed under Martial Law happened. They were all historically documented, recorded and recognized worldwide.”
Early this year, Marcos' son and his namesake Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. reiterated his call for a revision of Philippine textbooks, where his father's repressive regime is retold as a grim part of the country's history.
The younger Marcos, who was a senator before running for vice presidency in 2016 but lost to Vice President Leni Robredo, claimed his family is a "victim" of historical revisionism, asserting that accusations against them have been unproven, despite legal proof of atrocities and ill-gotten wealth during his father's rule.
Akbayan stressed Sunday that even the Philippine government recognizes the atrocities under Marcos’ regime through a law that grants compensation to the thousands of victims of human rights violation during the period.
Akbayan added that not even President Rodrigo Duterte, a self-confessed admirer of the strongman and ally of his family, “can eradicate the Marcoses’ dark legacy.”
“Duterte can obscure the truth and make people doubt their own history, but only for a while,” the group said.
Months after assuming power in 2016, Duterte allowed the burial of Marcos' remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, which was purportedly the late strongman’s last wish.
The group’s youth arm, Akbayan Youth, also called on educational institutions to implement an “institutional teaching of Martial Law atrocities.”
“The more the government’s education officials delay this institutional teaching, the more they prove to the people that they are complicit to the falsification of our history,” the group said.
The Department of Education had said it would educate the youth on the martial law period despite alleged moves to distort history.
In June, a former employee of Cambridge Analytica claimed that the late dictator’s son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., requested the services of the now-defunct political consulting firm to rebrand the Marcos family's image on social media.
The Marcos camp denied the claim, adding that it would possibly file libel charges against the former employee.
Earlier this month, the House of Representatives approved a bill that will declare September 11 as a special non-working holiday in the province of Ilocos Norte, in commemoration of Marcos' birthday.
The late strongman hailed from the province and his family enjoys political clout there to this day.
According to reports from global human rights watchdog Amnesty International, around 100,000 people were victims of martial law, with 3,000 killed, 34,000 tortured and 70,000 arrested.
The Marcoses also amassed an estimated $5 to $10 billion, or more than P500 billion, in ill-gotten wealth, based on the World Bank-United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Stolen Asset Recovery report.
The Philippine Commission on Good Government, the agency tasked with recovering billions of dollars plundered by Marcos and his allies, had recovered a total of P170 billion in the past 30 years.
The legal battle to recover the other alleged ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family and their cronies, however, is far from over.
In February, the Sandiganbayan had dismissed the P102-billion forfeiture complaint against Marcos, his widow Imelda, and their cronies over insufficient evidence.