The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) shares the Filipino people’s outrage against the treacherous burial of the remains of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani.
The burial mocks the life-and-death resistance of the journalists and media workers in the struggle to expand the frontiers of press freedom during the dark days of Martial Law.
While it is true that the Libingan has long been desecrated as a sacred space for the national memory, the people still cling to its intended political and social symbolism, that is, to hold in high esteem the people whose deeds reflect the values we hold dear as a society.
Marcos’ filthy record of suppressing press freedom and attacking journalists at the onset of Martial Law, and then prostituting media practice through the operation of crony news organizations is anything but deplorable.
Press freedom was among the first casualties of Marcos’ vile adventurism with political power. Martial Law not only led to mass extrajudicial murders, it also attempted to kill the truth.
Marcos ordered the closure of newspapers. His government took control of radio and television stations.
Many media workers were imprisoned, tortured and died fighting the dictatorship. Others were forced to go underground or into exile to evade arrest.
To protect and maintain his monopoly on power, Marcos allowed the operation of crony-controlled newspapers, radio and television stations whose main purpose was to air and publish the “good and beautiful” about Martial Law or the so-called “Bagong Lipunan (New Society).”
Amid the tyrannical rule, Filipino media workers continued to fight for press freedom and exposed the truth through underground newspapers and alternative news media later called the “Mosquito Press.”
These papers were secretly distributed or passed from reader to reader by hand, detailing the massive human rights violations, plunder of our economy by the Marcos family and their cronies and calling for heightened resistance. These helped in galvanizing the resistance and unity against the dictatorship leading to Marcos’ ouster on Feb. 25, 1986.
The overthrow of the dictatorship also led to the restoration of democratic institutions including the independent press.
The burial of Marcos at the hero’s cemetery seeks to gloss over, erase or worse, reverse these historical facts. This is anathema to the very essence of our role as chroniclers of our country’s contemporary history.
We stand by the people in decrying this mockery. We are one with them in ensuring that this will not happen again.
After all, it is because of the people that we exist. And it is the interest of the people that we will tirelessly serve. #