Marcos not a reluctant dictator, Etta Rosales rebuffs Enrile

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2018 01:10 PM | Updated as of Sep 21 2018 02:08 PM

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MANILA - Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile was incorrect in saying President Ferdinand Marcos was reluctant in imposing martial law over the country, former Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Etta Rosales said Friday.

In an interview with the strongman's only son, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr, aired on the eve of the anniversary of martial law declaration, Enrile said the dictator did not want to use his full powers as commander-in-chief at first but an alleged conspiracy between the Liberal Party and the Communist Party of the Philippines changed his mind.

Rosales, who was jailed twice during martial law, said when Marcos was a student at the University of the Philippines College of Law, he penned an essay envisioning a "new society" which can be achieved by having an "authoritarian government, a strong ruler."

"He believed in that. He wrote an essay about it and when martial law was declared, he said this is the new society that I had written way back when I was a young student," Rosales told ANC's Headstart.

She said Enrile, Marcos' defense minister who once admitted to faking the assassination attempt that was used as justification for the declaration of martial law before backtracking years later, is "wrapped up in his own contradictions."

She pointed out that in the interview with the young Marcos, Enrile claimed that he Senator Ninoy Aquino told him that the Liberal Party and the CPP were "discussing coalition government."

But Enrile also claimed that the communist rebels were behind the bombing of the LP campaign rally in Plaza Miranda a year before martial law was imposed, she said.

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Enrile also claimed in the interview that only a Chinese drug lord was executed by the government during martial law and that it was not true that 70,000 were arrested then. 

Rosales, who also worked as a legislator for a time, said Enrile knows her personally and even once told her that she was arrested for being "too talkative."

"Ang daldal-daldal mo kasi, Etta, kaya ka inaresto (You were too talkative, Etta, that's why you were arrested)," Rosales recalled Enrile telling her. 

She pointed out that Enrile was already a senator when Congress passed a law giving compensation to thousands of victims of human rights violations during the martial law regime. 

"If he is saying nobody was arrested, nobody was tortured, nobody was killed because they fought against the Marcos dictatorship, what in heaven's name was he doing in the Senate when they actually passed the law recognizing the martyrdom of all those who fought for democracy under the dictatorship?" she asked. 

She saw the interview, posted on Bongbong's Facebook page on Thursday evening, as a "pathetic effort" to counter the protests against historical revisionism that were emerging since the late dictator was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in 2016.

It is also aimed at convincing the millennials of the positive outcome from the era as the Marcos family tries to return to Malacañang, said Rosales.

The video also "discredits" Enrile, who has learned to "adjust to the demands of the situation," she said.

"The man himself is political expedient. He learns to adjust to what benefits him at that time. When I was talking to him then, they were calling us during the revolutionary period, and he was praising us to high heavens because he needed us," she said.

It is also "a lot of baloney" for Bongbong to claim to not know about the environment during his father's martial rule when he had "actively worked" against all efforts by human rights victims to receive reparation, said Rosales.

The young Marcos was a senator before running and losing in the 2016 vice-presidential race.

Asked if there was anything good that came out of Marcos' martial rule, Rosales said: "Martial law was imposed precisely to serve the purpose of the United States and Marcos to perpetuate himself in power. What good did it do to the Filipino people? Nothing."

Several protests are scheduled across the country as the nation marks 46 years since the martial law declaration, the start of what would be one of the darkest episodes in its history.