CHR urges Filipinos: Protect history, truth about Martial Law


Posted at Sep 21 2022 02:52 PM

Puny hands against military tanks during the 1986 People Power Revolution. From the Presidential Museum and Library. Photo by Peter Reyes, People Power: The Philippine Revolution of 1986
Puny hands against military tanks during the 1986 People Power Revolution. From the Presidential Museum and Library. Photo by Peter Reyes, People Power: The Philippine Revolution of 1986

MANILA — The Commission on Human Rights on Wednesday urged Filipinos to protect the truth about the Marcos dictatorship as the nation commemorates the 50th anniversary of his Martial Law declaration.

"As time can make memories vulnerable, we call on every Filipino to similarly protect our history and the truth captured in the country's collective experience during the 1972 Martial Law as an important facet of achieving transitional justice," Jacqueline Ann de Guia, CHR executive director, said in a statement.

In the run-up to Wednesday's 50th anniversary of the start of martial law, pro-Marcos posts had flooded Facebook and TikTok with false and misleading claims about the period, according to Agence France-Presse.

De Guia said that remembering Martial Law does not mean being stuck in the past, "but because there are lessons to remember and teach present and future generations."

"We remember so that democracy will endure and, together, we become a better nation," she added.

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The Philippines restored its democracy in 1986 through the primarily peaceful EDSA People Power Revolution that ousted late President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and installed former President Corazon Aquino.


De Guia also urged Filipinos to be vigilant against abuses of power. 

"Even at present, we continue to stress the value of truth and truth-seeking in addressing human rights violations. Without truth, there can be no justice," she said.

According to reports from human-rights watchdog Amnesty International, there were 100,000 victims of martial law, with 3,000 killed, 34,000 tortured and 70,000 arrested.

The Marcoses also amassed an estimated $5 to 10 billion, or some P500 billion, in ill-gotten wealth, based on the World Bank-United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s Stolen Asset Recovery report.

Various groups in the Philippines have organized events to remember Martial Law and its victims.

The commemoration of the declaration is commonly observed every Sept. 21, the date indicated in late former President Ferdinand Marcos' signed Proclamation No. 1081. 

There are calls from academics and institutions for it to be done every Sept. 23, the actual day he announced he had placed the entire country under military rule, although arrests started to occur the day before.


Meanwhile, a group that opposes the return of Marcoses to Malacañang said that the call for justice for victims of Martial Law remains.

"We call for justice for every father who lost his son, for every mother whose daughter remains missing to this day, for every child who never had the chance to be hugged by his mother and father, for families left hungry and distraught while the Marcoses partied in great opulence then and now," the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) said in a statement Wednesday.

"We call for justice for the Filipino people."

CARMMA also warns that opposition leaders are being pushed out of the political arena and the red-tagging of critics and dissenters is "thriving once again."

"Fifty years have passed, and another Marcos is in power. We hear the same cover-ups from the dictator's son, and shake our heads at how easily the lies flow from his mouth," it said.

"Marcos Jr.'s version of martial law as the 'golden age' selfishly refers to the Marcoses’ experience. That was their family's experience which, as they claim, was glorious and prosperous."

—with a report from Agence France-Presse


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