MANILA -- Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday urged Filipinos to reject "lies" and those who "steal the truth" about martial law under the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, as the Philippines marked 48 years since its declaration.
Robredo, a student activist during the Marcos regime, said the dictator's rule was marked by the killing and disappearance of critics, the swelling of the national debt, corruption, abuses, poverty and the erosion of national institutions.
At a time of divisiveness, Filipinos should strive to find commonality by looking back and "asserting the truths that bind us together as one people, with one history," said the Vice President.
"These truths know no political color, but come starkly in the black and white of our lived experience as a nation. Walang debate dito; nangyari ito," she said in a statement.
"And those who attempt to tell us otherwise are not only merely telling a supposed version of the story: They are lying to our faces, stealing our truths from us, stealing our stories. Because without these truths and stories, we will be further divided, at mas madaling magtatagumpay ang mga pagtatangkang abusuhin muli tayo," she added.
(It will be easier for them to succeed in their attempt to abuse us again.)
Filipinos should "push back against these lies at every instant," Robredo said.
"To tell the stories of Martial Law and dictatorship over and over so that this generation, and the ones that come after, may be bound tighter through remembering. To hold firm to the truth of this painful chapter of our history, and through this, forge the determination to never again let our people fall into such despair. We must do this because, ultimately, our national aspirations can only be as strong as our national memory," she said.
"Ngayong araw, manindigan muli tayong hindi tayo makakalimot," she said.
(Today, let's stand firm that we won't forget.)
Robredo in the 2016 vice presidential race defeated the dictator's son and namesake, former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. He is contesting her victory before the Supreme Court.
Marcos earlier this year also reiterated his call for a revision of Philippine textbooks, where his father's repressive regime is retold as a grim part of the country's history.
He claims his family is a "victim" of historical revisionism, asserting that accusations against them have been unproven, despite legal proof of atrocities and ill-gotten wealth during his father's rule.
The Philippine government recognizes the atrocities under Marcos’ regime through a law that grants compensation to the thousands of victims of human rights violation during the period, the Akbayan Citizens’ Action Party said Sunday.
President Rodrigo Duterte, a self-confessed admirer of the strongman, allowed Marcos' burial at the Heroes Cemetery in 2016.
The Department of Education had said it would educate the youth on the martial law period despite alleged moves to distort history.