Groups decry attempts to distort historical facts on martial law

By Nuel M. Bacarra

The Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) hit Senate Bill 452 authored by Sen. Robinhood Padilla to “distort” historical facts on Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s martial law by declaring September 21, its anniversary of declaration, as special non-working holiday to be known as “Unsung Heroes Day.”

Bonifacio Ilagan, SELDA spokesperson, said Padilla ”…willfully distorts history’s damning judgment of the Marcos dictatorship in the Philippines and turn the infamous day of the martial law declaration into a national holiday honoring ‘unsung heroes,’ the ‘unsung heroes’ being the state security forces that actually had their hands bloodied in rampage of human rights violations.”

“We all know of course, that as Marcos Sr. was about to end his second and last constitutional term, he declared martial law to perpetuate himself in power, using the so-called communist threat as a convenient pretext,” Ilagan added.

Earlier, House Deputy Minority leader and ACT (Alliance of Concerned Teachers) Party-list Rep. France Castro also criticized the memorandum of Department of Education (DepEd) through its Bureau of Curriculum Development that mandated to change the “Dikatadurang Marcos” (Marcos Dictatorship) to just “Diktadura” (Dictatorship) in Grade 6 Araling Panlipunan (Social Studies) curriculum.

“The decision to remove ‘Marcos’ from the term ‘Diktadurang Marcos’ is a clear revision of history and an insult to the countless victims of human rights abuses and atrocities committed during the martial law period,” Castro said.

Castro also invoked Section 27 of Republic Act 10368 that mandates the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission that coordination and collaboration should be properly exercised with DepED to ensure the teaching of martial law atrocities and the lives of the victims are part of the basic, secondary and tertiary education curricula.

Castro added, “The move to eliminate the name ‘Marcos’ from the ‘Diktadurang Marcos’ is a blatant attempt to whitewash the crimes and atrocities committed under his regime.”

Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) criticized as well the Marcos Jr. government on its attempt at “rebranding” saying, “The current regime wants to make sure the Marcos name is not associated with negative images of human rights violations, tyranny, power-grab and military rule.”

BAYAN added that the effort to distort historical facts in the country “points to an apparent long term plan to entrench the Marcoses in the highest positions of governments, even after the term of Marcos Jr. has ended.”

“The steady drive to rewrite history serves a long term agenda for staying in power,” BAYAN said. #

‘The need to change the order of things’

Today is the 85th birth anniversary of stage and film actor and director Benjamín Roberto “Behn” Holcombe Cervantes, founder of the University of the Philippines Repertory Company. He was also a founding member of the Concerned Artists of the Philippines, the Philippines Education Theater Association and the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino.

Thrice imprisoned for his activism and opposition to the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Cervantes became one of the most recognized freedom of expression campaigners of the Philippines until his death in 2013.

During his second incarceration at the Bicutan Jail in Taguig in January 1978, Cervantes wrote to his family: “The history of the case is of course my consistent position as opposition to martial law and my work in the university as a teacher and a director. During these past few years, I have become known as one of the most vocal dissenters. My movie, Sakada, and my plays, especially the last one, Pagsambang Bayan, show the exploitative nature of this system, the evils the ruling class commit on the many, the need to change the order of things.”

(Jo Maois Mamangun/Kodao)

Martial law survivors see emerging scheme to recover Marcoses ill-gotten wealth

The dismissal of yet another corruption charge against the Marcoses is part of an emerging pattern to recover the family’s ill-gotten wealth, martial law survivors warned.

Following the affirmation by the Supreme Court (SC) of the September 2019 dismissal of the P1.05 billion civil forfeiture case, the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) said it may be a scheme by the family now that another Marcos is president.

Promulgated by the SC last March 29 but only publicly announced last Wednesday, the high court said there is no merit to the prosecutors’ review petition of Sandiganbayan decision that there was insufficient evidence to support the allegations.

The Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) filed the complaint in 1987 that sought to forfeit alleged illegally acquired properties by former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr., his widow Imelda and cronies who acted as dummies to the couple.

CARMMA said the dismissal is deplorable, coming in the heels of other recent failed efforts such as:

1. The June 2023 Sandiganbayan dismissal of the P600 million civil forfeiture case involving Imelda, now President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., and cronies;

2. The February 2023 Sandiganbayan Fifth Division dismissal of a civil case against the Marcoses and others in relation to more alleged ill-gotten wealth by the family; and

3. The July 2022 Sandiganbayan Fourth Division dismissal of the government’s lawsuit to recover P200 billion worth of assets and properties.

The group cited the PCGG’s declaration that at least USD6 billion worth of reported Marcos ill-gotten wealth have not been recovered, excluding the the P203 billion estate tax unpaid by the Marcoses. The family has appealed to the SC for the dismissal of the tax case.

CARMMA also said the dismissal of former BIR chief Lilia Guillermo is connected with the latter case after she expressed publicly that all Filipinos including presidents and the Marcoses are accountable in ensuring the payment of estate taxes.

“All these point to a disturbing picture of impunity and injustice in relation to the plundered wealth of the Marcoses and a grand heist being done in full view of the Filipino people to allow them to keep their loot and more opportunity to get their hands on the people’s money,” CARMMA said.

“We at CARMMA condemn these schemes and machinations. We demand the full return of the stolen funds by the Marcoses and that they be held fully accountable for the massive plunder and grave human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship,” the group added.

After being deposed in an uprising in 1986, the Marcoses were described as the world’s biggest kleptocrats, or rulers who use political power to steal a country’s resources.

The family staged a complete political comeback after 36 years with members occupying top national and local government positions as well as seats in both houses of the Philippine Congress. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

‘We will never forget the atrocities! We will continue our fight for justice!’

Reaction to Senator Robin Padilla’s statement re Martial Law@50

By Amirah Lidasan

Assalamo Alaikum, brother Robin.

Your Bangsamoro brothers and sisters cannot accept your talk asking us to forget the dark years of Martial Law, and “move on” so that we can “grow.”

To forget the decade-long dictatorship is to perpetuate impunity and injustice for the victims of human rights abuses during Martial Law.

As survivors and families of victims of Martial Law, we can never forget the brutal military operations launched to force the Bangsamoro people out of our communities in Mindanao and to subdue the Bangsamoro resistance that defended our communities and fought for our right to self-determination.

The author (left) during the protest actions marking the 50th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by former president Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

How can we forget the killings or “salvaging,” the massacres, the mass arrests and detention, the torture, the burning and destruction of our communities?

Many Bangsamoro children were not only orphaned but became victims themselves as the military, police, and vigilantes committed the worst forms of human rights violations against our people.

On September 24, we will be reminded again of the Palembang Massacre, the death of more than 1,500 Bangsamoro people in the town of Sultan Kudarat in 1972.

To this day, the perpetrators are still not held accountable for these crimes. Worse, they returned to power with the help of a systematized campaign of historical distortion, massive disinformation, electoral fraud, and six-year years of former President Duterte’s fascist rule.

Most of the Bangsamoro victims were not recognized and some were left out of the compensation program. We were again subjected to the same atrocities as former President Duterte unleashed a five-month campaign of military airstrikes and ground operations in Marawi City.

It is disappointing and downright insulting to ask us to forget. We had hoped that your place in the Senate would help amplify our voice for justice, rather than be part of the apologists of the worst human rights violators. #

(The author is an officer of Bayan Muna Party and the Moro-Christian Peoples’ Alliance)

KAPATID: ‘Red-tagging CHED chair may take custody of elder sister Adora’

Political prisoner support group appeals for martial law survivor’s humanitarian release

Political prisoner support group Kapatid appealed for humanitarian release and immediate return to Manila of martial law survivor Adora Faye de Vera, suggesting that her brother, Cabinet member Prospero de Vera III, may act as her guarantor.

Kapatid spokesperson Fides Lim said the government may put Adora could be put under the legal custody of younger sibling Prospero, Commission on Higher Education chairperson, as he is appropriate for the role.

“The very reasons that Prof. de Vera announced to distance himself from his sister could ironically provide the same rationale why he fits the bill as a guarantor…Who better [to act as] guarantor than a brother who has red-tagged his sister to prove in his own words that he neither ‘shares her views nor supports her actions’ and ‘fully supports the government in its efforts to end the communist insurgency’?” Lim said.

In a statement following his sister’s arrest last Wednesday, August 24, Prospero said he has not spoken to his sister for more than 25 years “since she decided to rejoin the underground movement.”

Prospero added that while he hopes and prays for Adora’s safety and good health in detention as she faces the cases filed against her, he fully supports the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in its efforts to end the communist insurgency.

‘Very sick’

Adora’s son also Ron’s called for his mother’s release and return to Manila to continue with her medical treatment.

“My mother is 66 now and very sick that’s why she was in Manila to seek medical care. We appeal to government authorities to immediately bring her back to Manila to ensure her safety while she undergoes medical treatment for chronic asthma and complications,” Ron, former program coordinator of Amnesty International Philippines, said.

Ron said their family is very worried for Adora’s safety following “tokhang-style” killings of prominent activists, mostly elderly and very ill, who were tagged by military-police forces as leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army.

Among them are National Democratic Front of the Philippines peace consultants  Antonio Cabanatan, 74, and his wife Florenda Yap, 65, who were abducted, tortured, and murdered by police-military units also in Iloilo on December 26, 2020.

“Iloilo is not a safe place for Mama and it’s very far away from us. She has been through so much suffering. We appeal to government authorities to give her a chance to live a peaceful life and receive the proper medical care she needs. Please release her on humanitarian grounds and allow us to take care of her,” said Ron, whose father and Adora’s first husband, Manuel “Noni” Manaog, a community organizer, was abducted in 1990 and remains missing.

Adora was twice arrested during the Ferdinand Marcos Sr. dictatorship who revealed torture and rape in the hands of her captors.

She was among thousands of petitioners who successfully prosecuted the late dictator in a Hawaii court for human rights violations during martial law.

Kapatid’s Lim said Adora’s imprisonment reopens festering wounds that presents a tremendous challenge to new President Marcos Jr. “to show he is not incapable of righting the wrongs of the past and that his mantra of unity during the elections is not a hollow message to sidestep his family’s brutal and corrupt history.” # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Martial law survivors urge COMELEC to cancel ‘tax evader’ Marcos Jr’s candidacy

Martial law survivors called on the Commission on Elections (COMELEC) to disqualify Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the poll body hears petitions to cancel the former senator’s certificate of candidacy for the presidency in next year’s national elections.

The Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) said Marcos Jr. should never be allowed to hold or run for public office because he is a convicted tax evader.

“A thief, a liar, a convicted tax evader, and the unrepentant son of an ousted dictator should never be allowed to hold or run for public office — much more the highest and most powerful position in the land,” CARMMA said in a statement.

CARMMA is a group of Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s martial law rule in the 1970s to 1980s.

The group said that to allow the presidential aspirant to again run for office is not only a blatant mockery but a shameless bastardization of the country’s democracy and electoral exercise.

CARMMA and other human rights groups earlier filed petitions against Marcos Jr. citing his 1995 tax evasion charges conviction by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (QC-RTC) and subsequent upholding of the decision by the Court of Appeals (CA) in 1997.

The government said the former senator had tax deficiencies amounting to P8,504 while he was Ilocos Norte vice governor and governor from 1982 to 1985.

During trial, Marcos Jr. blamed his staff for the crime, saying he always thought that his employees took care of filing his income tax returns.

The QC-RTC imposed a four year cumulative imprisonment sentence and a cumulative fine of P42,000 against Marcos Jr.

In upholding the QC-RTC decision, however, the CA removed the prison sentence and reduced the fine to P36,000, saying Marcos was not given due notice when the tax assessments were made.

The CA also acquitted Marcos Jr of the charge of not paying his income taxes.

CARMMA however said the late dictator’s son is still convicted of failing to file his income tax returns and should be perpetually disqualified from holding any government post in accordance with the Omnibus Election Code.

The Code’s Section 12 states that a person shall be disqualified from running for public office if he had been sentenced by final judgment “for subversion, insurrection, rebellion or for any offense for which he has been sentenced to a penalty of more than eighteen months or for a crime involving moral turpitude.”

The petitioners said that Marcos Jr.’s failure to pay his income taxes for four consecutive years while in power as a high government official constitutes moral turpitude.

“Having tasted unlimited powers, the Marcoses are now paving their return to Malacañang with Marcos Jr.’s bid for the presidency and their historical distortions and whitewashing of their atrocities funded by the millions they have stolen from the people,” CARMMA said.

The group said it is Comelec’s duty to settle the petitions to safeguard and defend democracy that were restored when the Marcoses were ousted in 1986.

“We must never again allow despots, tyrants, criminals, and liars to lord it over our land,” CARMMA said. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)

Highlights of the #TamaNaWakasanNa protest last Tuesday

Commemorating the 49th anniversary of martial law declaration in the Philippines, social activists from the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (New Patriotic Alliance) vowed to end the Duterte regime which they likened to the Marcos fascist dictatorship. (Video by Philip Brown)

Wakasan si Duterte, sigaw sa Pambansang Araw ng Protesta

Nagtipon ang iba’t-ibang grupo sa Liwasang Bonifacio bilang bahagi ng pambansang araw ng pagkilos para sa panawagang wakasan na ang administrasyong Duterte, Setyembre 21, 2021. Itinaon ang protesta sa ika-49 taong komemorasyon ng batas militar na ayon sa mga progresibong grupo ay walang pinagkaiba si Duterte sa dating Pangulong Ferdinand Marcos lalo na sa usapin ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao at korapsyon sa gobyerno.

‘We commit ourselves to the highest standards of journalism to serve the oppressed’

“We, the member student publications of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines, strongly call and urge every campus journalist to join us in commemorating the evils witnessed by the nation during the Marcos dictatorship. In honor of our brave predecessors Liliosa Hilao, Leticia Ladlad, Ditto Sarmiento and Antonio Tagamolila, we will never forget the horrors that the Marcos regime tried to hide but never succeeded. We commit ourselves to the highest standards of journalism to serve the oppressed and exploited masses. We won’t and will never forget!”

Global rights group: Duterte committed more violations than Marcos

An international group accused Rodrigo Duterte as not only the new face of martial law in the Philippines but that his government has caused more human rights violations than the 14-year Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship.

In a statement marking the 49th anniversary of the imposition of Marcos’ martial law, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) enumerated various cases of rights violations in the country.

As Marcos declared martial law in 1972 to counter alleged threats by the then newly re-established Communist Party of the Philippines, Duterte imposed martial rule in Mindanao on the pretext of fighting armed groups that took over Marawi City.

ICHRP said that Duterte’s own martial rule led to an alarming increase in human rights violations that were not limited to the displacement of Moros and the bombing and destruction of Marawi City.

“Indigenous people’s schools (in Mindanao) have been shuttered and their communities remain under attack and occupation by the Philippine Army…While peasants in Negros and Panay islands are being arrested and massacred as they defend their right to till and their ancestral domain,” ICHRP global chairperson Peter Murphy said.

Murphy added that Duterte has also unleashed a war against the poor through his drug war that claimed more than 27,000 lives, including children.

“Worse, the country is now one of the most dangerous places in the world for human rights defenders,” Murphy said.

Unlike most presidents after the 1986 uprising that ousted Marcos, Duterte is an avowed Marcos admirer who permitted the dictator’s controversial internment at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).

Murphy said that justice is yet to be served to the victims of both martial law impositions, as the Duterte government refuses to cooperate with the formal investigation launched by the International Criminal Court based in The Hague, The Netherlands.

“We call on Duterte and his cohorts to end the repression now in the Philippines and to take accountability for all the human rights violations they committed against the Filipino people. We challenge him to face the ICC,” Murphy said.

The ICHRP also called on governments of the international community to stop supporting Duterte through military aid to the Philippines. # (Raymund B. Villanueva)