A campaign aims to educate the youth on the horrors of martial law, and how it could happen again with the election of the Marcos Dictator’s son as vice president.
By RONALYN V. OLEA
MANILA –Some 100 martial law victims and human rights advocates gathered today, Feb. 4 and vowed to do all they can to stop the Marcoses from gaining more power.
Led by former political prisoners during martial law, the gathering served as a kickoff in what they called “Campaign against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (Carmma).”
Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is running for the vice presidency.
Director and writer Bonifacio Ilagan said, “If Bongbong Marcos wins as vice-president, the Marcos grand scheme to recapture Malacañang is just a stride away, given their billions of pesos in war chest, courtesy of the evil genius of Ferdinand Sr.”
Ilagan was detained during martial law. His sister Rizalina Ilagan was abducted by suspected military agents in July 1977. To this day, she has never been found.
Judy Taguiwalo, former faculty regent of the University of the Philippines (UP), said Bongbong was not without sin.
“Bongbong peddles the lie that his father’s wealth was legitimate. He inherited the ill-gotten wealth of his father. How could the Marcos family live in style all these years?” Taguiwalo said.
Taguiwalo, a student leader during the Marcos dictatorship, was arrested in Iloilo in July 1973 and brutally tortured. She, along with five other political detainees, was able to escape in November 1974.
Taguiwalo was arrested again in January 1984 in Angeles, Pampanga. She was four months pregnant at that time and gave birth on June 15, 1984 while in prison. She and her daughter were released after Marcos was toppled in February 1986.
Now 65 years old, Taguiwalo lamented that justice remains elusive for thousands of victims of martial law.
The late dictator and his family were never prosecuted in the Philippines but in 1995, the Federal Court of Hawaii found Marcos guilty of grave human-rights violations and awarded $2 billion in compensatory damages to the victims. There were 9,539 complainants in the class suit against the Marcoses.
According to Amnesty International, more than 3,200 were killed, 70,000 were imprisoned and 34,000 were tortured during the Marcos dictatorship.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), said Bongbong is distorting history.
In a television interview, Bongbong said he has nothing to apologize for what happened during his father’s administration.
Enriquez’s sister, Liliosa Hilao, then a student journalist at the Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Maynila, was one of the first to be tortured and killed under martial law. She was not able to attend Liliosa’s wake because soldiers were also after her.
“It’s difficult to forget what we went through,” Enriquez said. “Nakakatakot na mangyari uli ang horrors ng martial law (It’s frightening to think of a repeat of the horrors of martial law).”
For her part, Julie Po, another veteran activist and artist, belied Bongbong’s claims that the country fared better under Marcos. Po said that when Marcos came to power, the national debt stood at P600 million and ballooned to P28 billion when the Dictator left Malacanang.
Enriquez pointed out that corrupt politicians learned from Marcos. The group noted that Bongbong has not come out clean in the billion-peso pork barrel scam. The senator allocated P100 million for alleged ghost non-government organizations.
Youth as target audience
Initiators of the campaign agreed that the youth would be their primary target audience.
Award-winning writer and actress Bibeth Orteza encouraged fellow martial law activists to use the social media to reach out to the youth.
Orteza asked her colleagues to record their testimonies so that the younger generation would know about the dictatorship.