Philippines: Dismantling the Marcoses' "Empire of Memory"
Statement of Akbayan Chairperson Risa Hontiveros on the 42nd year commemoration of the declaration of Martial Law
As the nation observes the 42nd year commemoration of the declaration of Martial Law under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos; we would like to express our deep concern regarding a well-oiled and comprehensive campaign to rewrite history in favor of the Marcoses. This campaign of historical revisionism, which has been going on for several years already, targets today's youth and their obliviousness of the Martial Law years, with the determined effort to paint a rosy picture of the dictatorship, rehabilitate the image of the Marcos family and whitewash their historic crimes against the people.
Recently, the campaign has become more aggressive as we count the months leading to the 2016 presidential election. It is no secret that the late strongman's son, Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., who he had bestowed with his own name and has acquired his political DNA for being unabashedly unrepentant of their family's dark legacy, covets the highest position in the land. Winning the presidency completes their falsification of our history and return to the highest echelons of power.
The Marcoses' campaign to distort history is an abomination for its Stalin-like brazenness to obscure the truth and manipulate information or opinion. It is also extremely alarming in its apparent effectiveness to desensitize many of our people to the Marcoses' legacy of torture, murder and plunder, and in brainwashing our young people to give up the values of truth and justice in favor of glorifying an authoritarian past. Ironically, this is happening even as we have just successfully fought for the passage of the Marcos Compensation Law, a landmark legislation, which provides justice to the thousands of martial law victims and fully recognizes the atrocities of the Marcos years. We must not let this continue. We must not let the Marcoses win and rebuild their toppled empire of tyranny and memory of lies.
Implement institutional teaching of Martial Law atrocities
Thus, we call on the Aquino government and all the concerned agencies such as our educational and historical institutions to immediately implement the institutional teaching of Martial Law atrocities in the schools as provided for by the recently passed Marcos Compensation Law. For the longest time, the absence of a strong institutional process to teach the youth of the facts and events which surrounded the Martial Law years has contributed to the failure to put closure to the country's dark past. The present government now has the opportunity to turn the tide and jumpstart the institutional process of defending the truth from the Marcoses' tall tales and other fabrications. Failure to do so would constitute not only a grave injustice to the victims and martyrs of the Marcos dictatorship who have valiantly fought the late dictator, it will also serve as a hindrance to our aspiration to exact complete justice from the impunity of a long dark past.
Extend deadline for filing of claims for Martial Law victims
We also call for the passage of Joint Resolution No. 16 authored by Akbayan Representatives Barry Gutierrez and Walden Bello extending the deadline for filing of claims for victims of human rights during the period of Martial Law. We are pushing for a 6-month extension to allow the legitimate claimants, especially those living in far-flung areas of the country, full opportunity to file their claims with the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB). The government needs to ensure that all of the victims are provided with the necessary opportunity and access to gain redress for the sufferings and sacrifices that they endured four decades ago. Akbayan believes that the lack of time should not pose as a hindrance to the recognition and reparation of the human rights victims during Martial Law.
The government must also pursue with diligence and resolve all ill-gotten wealth cases against the Marcos family as well as cases of human rights abuses. This also includes the charge of pork barrel corruption lodged against Senator Bongbong Marcos akin to the plunder charges filed against detained Senator Juan Ponce Enrile, one of the chief architects of the Marcos dictatorship.
History, truth and ethics
We also call on the Filipino youth to judiciously revisit our past and learn from our history. They must however be wary of vested groups that promote "value-free" teaching of history but are in truth dispensers of historical lies. Our youth must bear in mind that history must always have a point of view. The truth cannot be separated from ethics. In the case of the Marcoses, the point of view must always be based on the lens of justice, democracy and human rights. We urge the youth to embark on this important revisiting of the past with the help of legitimate historical institutions such as the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, as well as the guidance of Martial Law survivors and progressive youth and student organizations.
Lastly, we call on the broad progressive community, democratic forces, human rights groups, church people, media and ordinary citizens to close ranks as we confront and defeat the Marcoses' attempt to rewrite history and falsify our anti-dictatorship struggle. The task of constantly reminding us what happened during the Marcos years falls not only to the older generation, especially those who have experienced martial law; we all have a collective responsibility to do so. Our best weapon is our memory of struggle which we must hand over to the new generation. It is incumbent upon all of us to memorialize and honor the victims of the Marcos dictatorship, celebrate the courage of all those who defended freedom and democracy and ensure that such a nightmarish past will never happen again.
The Marcoses are erecting their new "Empire of Memory." They are building a vast political and cultural edifice based on lies and deception. Unlike the Marcosian architecture of the Martial Law period, this new edifice is invisible to the naked eye. It is however not imperceptible. It attacks our collective memory, seduces us with the allure of authoritarianism as an exit to the complexities of modern democracy and numbs us into submission to their distortion of history and their denial of historical crimes against the country. All those who cherish freedom, justice and democracy have a moral duty to dismantle it. Never forget. Never again.
* "Empire of Memory" is the title of a novel written by Eric Gamalinda which blended fact and fiction to narrate the story of two young men who were requested by the Marcos regime to re-write the history of the Philippines and create an image of Ferdinand Marcos with the destiny to rule the country forever.
Akbayan Rep. Gutierrez pushes for extension of deadline for filing of claims for Martial Law victims
"The lack of time should not pose as a hindrance to the recognition and reparation of the human rights victims for the sufferings and sacrifices they endured during Martial Law," Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez said.
His statement came Sunday on the 42nd year commemoration of the imposition of Martial Law on September 21, 1972, saying that "recognizing the struggles of the victims is important more than ever, as most survivors enter their final years."
Gutierrez filed Joint House Resolution No. 16 extending the deadline for filing of claims for victims of human rights during the Marcos regime to cope with the large number of persons seeking for reparation and recognition under Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
From November 10, 2014, the proposed measure seeks to move the deadline application to May 2015.
"The six-month extension was sought to allow the legitimate claimants, especially those living in far-flung areas of the country, full opportunity to file their claims with the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) and gain redress for injustices they suffered four decades ago," Gutierrez said.
Emphasizing the urgency of the resolution, Gutierrez urged Congress for the immediate approval of the proposed measure, saying this is important in "making certain that the struggles of the people who have fought the Marcos dictatorship are given due recognition and the full opportunity to secure their rightful place in our history."
"[And] we need to ensure that all those who suffered in the defense of freedom and democracy are rendered full justice," he added.
"We urge both Houses of Congress to swiftly and immediately approve this measure that ensure the full realization of the goals and objectives of RA 10368 to recognize and provide reparation to the victims and their families who suffered deaths and unspeakable losses during one of the darkest periods in our history," Gutierrez concluded.
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