Govt responsible for Martial Law historical revisionism: activist

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 21 2020 03:53 PM

Human Rights activists and student organizations join Martial Law detainees as they stage a ‘Marcos No Hero’ indignation protest held at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, In Quezon City on September 11, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The government is responsible for the Marcoses' persisting historical revisionism of the Martial Law, a screenwriter-activist said Monday as the country marked the 48th anniversary of the late strongman's declaration of military rule.

The Marcoses are "backed" by President Rodrigo Duterte himself, said Bonifacio Ilagan, who was arrested in 1974 as a member of an underground resistance and was subsequently tortured.

"Ngayon, ang nakakatakot, may malakas na malakas na backup ang mga Marcos sa kanilang historical revisionism. At ito ay ang kasulukuyang administrasyon ni President Duterte na nagsasabing best na nangyari sa Pilipinas ang Martial Law," Ilagan told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(What's scary now is the Marcoses have a strong backup and that is President Duterte's administration, which says Martial Law was the best thing that happened to the Philippines.)

"Ipinagpapatuloy ng marami ang pagaaral sa kasaysayan. On the other hand, we have a complete machinery of government para, 'yun na nga, baliktarin ang totoo."

(Many continue to study our history but we have a complete machinery of government to reverse the truth.)

Duterte is known to be close to the Marcos family, as his late father Vicente served in the late strongman's pre-martial law cabinet. In November 2016, Duterte allowed the burial of Marcos' remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani despite protests.

Previous administrations are also accountable for not prioritizing the public's education on the Marcos dictatorship, Ilagan said.

"Merong continuing effort kasi na baguhin ang kasaysayan. Hindi lang baguhin, (kundi) baliktarin. At malaki ang responsibilidad ng mga institusyon ng ating gobyerno," he said.

(There's a continuing effort to revise, revert even, history. And government institutions have a big responsibility.)

"Unag-una d'yan, ang Department of Education, na naging kulang sa pagpapalaganap ng edukasyon tungkol sa Martial Law. Ang mga aklat na ginagamit sa paaralan ay bahagyang naglaan ng pahina tungkol sa Martial Law. Kung merong 5-6 pages, mali pa ang interpretasyon."

(The Department of Education lacked in disseminating information about Martial Law. The books used in schools barely lend a page to Martial Law. Even if there are 5-6 pages, the interpretation is wrong.)

Although it is an "uphill battle," Ilagan believes truth will prevail.

"Magandang bagay na yung henerasyon ngayon ay nagpapatuloy upang linawin kung ano talaga ang nangyari. It’s a long struggle. But in the end, I think the truth will come out and prevail," he said.

(It's a good thing this generation continues to clarify what really happened.)

"'Yung panawagang 'Never Again' ay isang paalala na sa kabila ng anumang sakripisyo, anumang hadlang, kailangan manindigan tayo sa tama, sa totoo, sa katurungan."

(The call 'Never Again' is a reminder that despite whatever difficulties, we have to stand for what is right, for what is the truth, and for justice.)

Ilagan said Marcos achieved his goal of prolonging his term by "spoiling" the military and police.

"Ang military, police niya, talaga ini-spoil niya. It’s happening now. Itinaas niya ang posisyon, inayos niya ang suweldo. Yung coercive powers na tinatawag ng estado, inasikaso niya," he said.

(He spoiled the military, the police. It’s happening now. He increased their ranks, salary. He took care of the State's so-called coercive powers.)

"Ang Congress, bagaman hati, ay malakas ang kaniyang impluwensiya. Gaya ngayon, meron daw supermajority, kaya nadidiktahan ang Kongreso."

(He had strong influence on the Congress, despite it being divided. Like now, we have a supermajority, that's why Congress can be dictated upon.)

Ilagan also recalled the Red-tagging of opposition members as "subversives."

"May Red-tagging din na nangyayari at ginamit nila ang makinarya ng gobyerno para sa mga propaganda operations," he said.

(There was Red-tagging, and they used government for their propaganda operations.)

"I have to give credit to the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, kasi sila talaga ang nag-unify eh ng koalisyon na ito (because they unified the coalition)."

The resistance persisted as it knows it was on the side of the truth, according to Ilagan.

"During our time, we felt some kind of invincibility kasi namulat kami sa tunay na sitwasyon. And we thought, tayo ay nasa tama. Kaya, no matter how weak or small we are, ipagpatuloy natin ito. And it happened, ang lahat ng nangyari ay kasaysayan na," he said.

(During our time, we felt some kind of invincibility because we knew what was the real situation. And we thought we were in the right. So, no matter how weak or small we were, we continued to fight. And it happened, everything that happened is history.)

According to reports from global human rights watchdog Amnesty International, around 100,000 people were victims of martial law during the Marcos administration, 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.