Filipinos haven't learned lessons from Marcos dictatorship, says activist-nun

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2020 06:07 PM

Members of different human rights groups hold a protest at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani on September 21, 2020 as the country commemorates the 48th year of the declaration of martial law in 1972. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Filipinos have not learned their lessons from the dictatorship of the late President Ferdinand Marcos as the country's current situation is a "repetition" of what happened then, an activist-nun said on Tuesday.
 
The current government is "not only parallel, it's even a little worse" than Marcos' martial rule, according to Sister Mary John Mananzan, chair emerita of Gabriela, who was among the nuns at the forefront of protests leading up to the 1986 EDSA Revolution. 

There were 3,000 extra-judicial killings (EJKs) under the Marcos dictatorship compared to 30,000 EJKs under the administration's drug war, she claimed. 

Government data, meanwhile, show that a total of 8,663 drug suspects have been killed in mainly police anti-drug operations since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in 2016. Authorities claimed those slain had violently resisted arrest. 

"The fact that the Marcos family are now again in ascendance, that has shown we don’t even have a memory. I mean to say they are now national elected officials show that we have not actually learned from history," she told ANC. Marcos' daughter, Imee, was elected senator in 2019 following the footsteps of her brother, Ferdinand Jr., who placed second in the 2016 vice-presidential race. 

"If you look at what is happening now, it is almost item-for-item, a repetition of what has happened in Martial Law." 

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Another parallel of the two governments is red-tagging, Mananzan said, citing the anti-terror law that Duterte signed in July despite public opposition.

"I do not call that anti-terrorist law, I call that state terrorism law because what is the meaning of terrorism? You are disseminating fear. That law will sow fear in so many people who are just wanting to say their opinion because they are not happy with what is happening. So that is really state terrorism because the one who is terrorizing is the state," she said.

Photo courtesy of Gabriela Facebook

"I have been a victim of that, I have been red-tagged, they tell atrocious stories just because you’re a chairperson of Gabriela.
They are making a lot of fake news and fake stories about what red means. If the President said communism is the greatest threat in our country today, ibig sabihin nun (it means) you can kill them."

Duterte was voted into power in 2016 since there was continuing dissatisfaction from the public because there was "no change of system" after the 1986 People Power Revolution, Mananzan said. 

The popular uprising toppled the dictatorship and restored democracy in the Philippines, but many problems remain unresolved, she said. 

"It was only a change of people and therefore the fundamental problems of the country remained. So that’s why there’s a continuing dissatisfaction of people, that people are poor, hungry," she said.

"The basic problems of our country—the unequal distribution of wealth, the foreign control of our economy—that was prevailing under Marcos, it’s still prevailing up to now."

She added, "My goodness, the solution now to every problem is ‘patayin, patayin, patayin’ (kill, kill, kill)."

There has to be a "change of consciousness and a change of structure" among Filipinos, Mananzan said.