MANILA — A lawmaker on Wednesday said that while Filipinos could forgive, they must not forget the atrocities under former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr. as the country marked 50 years since his imposition of martial law.
Marcos imposed military rule on September 21, 1972 until January 1981, a period marred by human rights violations and massive corruption.
"Filipinos can forgive but should never forget the atrocities and despotism of martial law. Widespread amnesia of the abhorrent abuses and inordinate profligacy of the martial law era must be cured and jettisoned as a national malaise," Albay First District Rep. Edcel Lagman said in a privilege speech.
"The memory of both the horrors of martial law and the courage and conviction of its victims and survivors must be indelible in our history. We must resist all attempts of historical revisionism and self-serving sanitizing in literature and the arts, including cinematography," he added.
Marcos Sr. was toppled from power by a bloodless "people power" revolt in 1986 and the family was chased into exile.
After the patriarch's death in 1989, they returned to the Philippines and began a remarkable political comeback that culminated with Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s victory in the May 9 presidential election.
Marcos Jr, who has repeatedly praised his father's rule, last week defended martial law as "necessary" to protect the country against insurgencies.
"We do recognize the problems that happened, the abuses that occurred like in any war," Marcos Jr said.
But he said critics were "wrong" to call his father a "dictator".
"There's no reason to revise history," he said, while suggesting school textbooks need to be rewritten "only if they're wrong".
Lagman said that while Marcos Jr.'s defense of his father is understandable, "Denials do not and cannot change the horrors of the past."
"It cannot repeal statutes and overturn Supreme Court decisions indubitably documenting the atrocities and banalities of the Marcos dictatorship, " Lagman said.
But the lawmaker also lamented that the youth are learning "twisted facts and outright lies" about martial law online.
Lagman's brother was a lawyer who disappeared on May 11, 1977 after standing up to authoritarian rule. He remains missing 45 years on.
Gabriela party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas of the Makabayan bloc supported Lagman's speech.
"Hindi natin malilimot ang libu-libong pinaslang at kinulong sa ilalim ng diktadurang Marcos. Tuloy ang paniningil. Tuloy ang pagsigaw ng katarungan. Never again. Never forget," Brosas said.
(We will not forget the thousands who were slain and detailed under the Marcos dictatorship. The fight for justice goes on.)
— With a report from Agence France-Presse