MANILA - Former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III on Friday hit former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's revisionist view of martial law, a period under which his father, Benigno Aquino Jr., was assasinated.
“Medyo may edad na si Sen. Enrile, hindi siguro puwedeng gawing dahilan iyon para maniwala tayo sa gusto niyang pagbabago ng katotohanan,” Aquino said following a “mass for peace” at the Cory Aquino Democratic Space at the De La Salle University-Manila.
(Sen. Enrile is already old but that cannot be an excuse for us to believe in his attempt to change history.)
The event was held as part of the commemoration of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos' declaration of martial rule in 1972.
In a tete-a-tete with the strongman's only son, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., on the eve of the anniversary of the martial law declaration, Enrile said millennials are misinformed about Marcos' martial rule.
The 94-year-old claimed that the country was, in fact, peaceful during its first years and denied killings and arrests of dissidents, saying government forces only executed a Chinese drug lord and arrested only those who violated the law.
"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."
Aquino emphasized that there was a law passed granting compensation to torture victims and their families during the Marcos regime.
Enrile was Senate President when Aquino signed into law Republic Act 10368 or the “Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.”
Through the said law, the Philippine government recognized the bravery and sacrifice of Filipinos whose rights were violated during the martial law era.
Aquino also belied Enrile's claim that the Liberal Party, where the former president is a stalwart, had a coalition with communists to topple the Marcos administration.
In his interview with the younger Marcos, Enrile claimed that he met with Aquino's father, slain Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr.,a vocal Marcos critic, along with Paul Aquino, and was told that "he had a meeting with the leadership of the communist party and they were discussing a coalition government."
"President Marcos realized the country was too fragile with a limited military to contain the problem," Enrile said.
Vice President Leni Robredo for her part said Filipinos should stay vigilant as the country’s democracy is continuously under threat.
Liberal Party Senators Francis Pangilinan and Bam Aquino along with former officials of the Aquino administration also joined the "mass for peace."
“Mahalaga sa taumbayan na maalala ang panahon ng martial law para huwag na iyong maulit muli,” Senator Aquino said.
(It is important for the public to remember the martial law era so it won't happen again.)
The Philippines on Friday marked 46 years since Marcos declared martial law, a period that saw several human rights violations such as illegal detentions and enforced disappearances of the regime's critics.