MANILA - Former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. on Friday said acts of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. can never be justified, as he urged today’s youth to reject martial law figures trying to make a political comeback.
Pimentel, himself a political prisoner during the Marcos regime, reminded the youth that the martial law era was a dark spot in Philippine history that should not be glorified.
“Ang daming namatay, ang daming disappeared na mga kababayan. Iyan ang dapat nating bigay na pangungusap sa millennials,” Pimentel said in a Palace briefing. “You must always remember that the end never justify the means.”
Pimentel also hit former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s claims about the martial law, which some critics say were an attempt to revise history.
Among Enrile’s claims was that no one was arrested under the Marcos dictatorship for their political or religious beliefs.
“Name me one that we executed other than [suspected drug lord] Lim Seng. There was none. Name me one person who was arrested because of political or religious belief. None. Name me one person who was arrested simply because they criticized President Marcos. None,” Enrile said in an interview with the late dictator’s son and namesake, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Reacting to Enrile’s claim, Pimentel said: “Siguro nakalimutan na niya ako. That’s part of aging.”
“Maliwanag naman siguro na marami ang hinuli. As a matter of fact nung hinuli ako, ‘di ko alam kung bakit hinuli ako,” said Pimentel.
Pimentel said Enrile, by issuing such statements in front of no less than the late dictator’s son, must be “cementing his relationship with the Marcoses… hoping probably that [Bongbong] Marcos will become president eventually, of course without my vote.”
In his interview with Marcos, Enrile also claimed that the late 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.
Enrile said millennials are misinformed about the martial law, claiming that the country was peaceful during its first years and government forces only executed Chinese drug lord Lim Seng, not dissidents.
Pimentel said Enrile “is entitled to his opinion.”
“He (Enrile) has always been a defender of martial rule. As a matter of fact there was a time he and Gen. Fidel Ramos seceded from their association with the Marcos regime, but apparently the idea of autocratic rule still persisted in his mind,” Pimentel said.
“I disagree with that and I still maintain that you can achieve what is good for people without depriving them of their liberties and freedoms.”
Pimentel also acknowledged that attempts to revise history and distort facts come with democracy.
“Facts cannot be contradicted by mere opinion, but we are democracy, which means that even if people advocated oppositions that may sound outrageous, that’s privilege, providing they don’t resort to force,” Pimentel said.
“I don’t take that against him and let the people judge who is right and who is wrong,” he said of Enrile’s claims.
“Pero the attempt of the people to revise, that’s their right. Under a democracy there is freedom of expression and freedom of pushing for views that may not be acceptable to the rest of the nation but it is also up to the few who know better to repudiate kung ano ang isinusulong.”
CALLS FOR THE YOUTH
Pimentel also asked today’s youth to not let the “opinions” of other people distort their perception of the events that occurred under the Marcos dictatorship. He said several people want to “justify the excesses of the martial law regime” in order to “perpetuate a legacy” that should otherwise be placed in the dustbin of history.
“Huwag nating pahintulutan yan, let us expose them for what they are. They are trying to perpetuate a legacy that had better be placed in the box of history several feet underground,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel, who founded the ruling PDP-Laban party which carried President Rodrigo Duterte’s candidacy in the 2016 polls, also noted that there are attempts to justify the Marcos dictatorship by pointing to the infrastructure and edifices built at the time.
“Some of his heirs are justifying, tingnan niyo ang mga daan, tingnan niyo ang PICC (Philippine International Convention Center), napakaganda. Pero mga kapatid, ilang kilometro ba ng aspaltadong daan would compensate for the loss of one life?” he said.
The Marcoses in recent years have made remarkable gains in making a political comeback, which critics say was made easier under the Duterte, who is a vocal admirer of the late dictator.
Bongbong Marcos is attempting to gain the vice-presidency through an electoral protest against Vice President Leni Robredo. His sister, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos, meanwhile, is believed to be eyeing a Senate seat in the next elections.