MANILA - Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday belied reports that a Senate panel voted in favor of the approval of a bill declaring September 11 as a special non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte to commemorate the birth anniversary of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Gatchalian and 7 other senators who attended the Senate Committee on Local Government hearing last Monday drew flak on social media after House Bill 7137, or the Marcos Day bill, and other measures declaring holidays in some localities were "endorsed" to a technical working group.
"Let me go straight to the point. I did not vote for the approval of the proposed Marcos Day in Ilocos Norte contrary to what some media organizations published," Gatchalian said in a statement.
"Records of the proceedings can confirm that no 'voting' took place in the said hearing. I hope this clarifies the misleading news," he said.
A bill is approved on committee level once majority of the panel’s members sign a committee report.
Sen. Francis Tolentino chairs the committee on local government, while Marcos' daughter, Sen. Imee Marcos, is vice chair. The latter was present in the committee hearing when the Marcos Day bill was tackled.
Gatchalian said that his "endorsement to the TWG" is not tantamount to voting in favor of the Marcos Day bill.
"I merely moved to have the bill, along with other local bills, tackled by the Local Government Committee in last Monday’s hearing, subject to further study by the technical working group (TWG)," he said.
"The exact words that I said during the hearing were, 'I’m moving for an omnibus endorsement to the TWG to reconcile the different versions and also to request for position papers from the resource persons. I so move'," he said.
Sen. Nancy Binay, who attended the first parts of the committee hearing, also denied that she is backing the Marcos Day bill.
"I wish to reiterate that I did not vote for the approval of the bill and will not support any bill that would cause historical revisionism," Binay said in a separate statement.
Some Filipinos have been opposing the Marcos Day bill, saying the former president - who declared Martial Law from 1972 and plundered the public coffers until his ouster in 1986 - should not be portrayed as a hero.
Netizens have also decried how the Marcos' family allegedly pushed to revise history to paint their patriarch in a better light, contrary to the harrowing tales of thousands of human rights victims during his dictatorship.
The bill is authored by Reps. Angelo Marcos Barba (2nd Dist., Ilocos Norte), Ria Christina Fariñas (1st Dist., Ilocos Norte), and Rudys Cesar Farinas (Probinsyano Ako party list).