MANILA - Former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo on Friday said former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile is among those attempting to distort the truth about the late Ferdinand Marcos' strongman rule.
Speaking to ANC, Taguiwalo, among those jailed and tortured during martial law, said Enrile, who served as Marcos' defense minister, had admitted during the 1986 uprising against the late dictator that the 1972 assassination attempt on him, cited as a reason to impose military rule, was a setup.
"How can you believe him now when he talks about history, when he himself was part of making the lies, the scenario that helped create the justification for martial law?" she told ANC's Early Edition.
"The contestation is going on to rehabilitate the Marcoses, to revise history," she said.
In a tete-a-tete with the strongman's namesake son Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on the eve of the anniversary of the martial law declaration, Enrile said the dictator did not want to use his full powers as commander-in-chief first but an alleged conspiracy between the Liberal Party and the Communist Party of the Philippines supposedly changed his mind.
"President Marcos realized the country was too fragile with a limited military to contain the problem," he said in the video published in the younger Marcos' Facebook page.
He claimed he met with former Senator Ninoy Aquino, one of the strongman's most known critics, along with Paul Aquino, and was told that "he had a meeting with the leadership of the communist party and they were discussing coalition government."
He said millennials are misinformed about martial law, claiming that the country was in fact peaceful during its first years and government forces only executed a Chinese drug lord, not dissidents.
"They claimed that we killed a lot of people. when I was interviewed by someone some time ago, I challenged her, name me one that we executed, we killed except Lim Seng," he said.
Asked what the accusation was, Enrile said "that we have 70,000 arrested, which was not true."
"Maybe if they will include people who violated curfew and jaywalker, maybe you can reach that number. People can go out at night, they can go out and fish, go out and farm. They were free in fact," he said.
"Of course if you were a member of the rebel group, or a warlord, or one who violated criminal law, you had to be arrested."
Millennials "did not know anything" and only know what they read or heard, which are "based on inaccurate facts," said Enrile.
"During martial law, there were no massacres like what happened in Mendiola, like what happened during the supposed democratic government of Cory Aquino," he added.
Taguiwalo challenged Enrile's claims by citing several prominent personalities, including politicians, national artists and herself, who were very vocal about the torture and other abuses they experienced under Marcos' military regime.
"I can tell you about how I was forced to sit on ice naked while I was being interrogated," Taguiwalo said.
"I can tell you of stories of young men and women who disappeared... who remain missing up to this day," she said.
"Bantayog ng mga Bayani has stories and accounts of people who suffered imprisonment, who suffered torture and died," she said.
For Taguiwalo, these stories could not have been written by a "very good fiction writer."
"It's not a question of legal [issues]. We have proof of that. Those are testimonial accounts now, during and contemporaneous accounts," she said.
Several protests are scheduled across the country as the nation marks 46 years since Marcos declared martial law, a regime marked by human rights abuses.