By ANNE MARXZE D. UMIL
MANILA – There is no reason to celebrate the birth centennial of a dictator, let alone bury him as a hero.
Carrying banners calling the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. a “plunderer,” hundreds of members of progressive groups stormed the gates of the Libingan ng mga Bayani where the Marcos family and loyalists celebrated the ousted despot’s 100th birthday today, Sept. 11.
The groups lead by Campaign Against the Return of Marcoses in Malacanang (Carmma) and Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) held protest caravan from Quezon City to the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes Cemetery) in Taguig City. The delegates of Lakbayan 2017 and Movement Against Tyranny also joined the protest.
“No compromise, no immunity!” called out the protesters, saying the Marcos family should return its stolen wealth without any condition.
The groups decried that Marcos is not a hero and had amassed $10 billion dollars, plundered the country’s resources and committed massive human rights violations against the people.
The pouring rains did not deter the rallyists, who stood against the anti-riot police guarding the gates of the cemetery.
“As we can see, even the heavens are in solidarity as it cries over the crimes of this president,” Imelda Tambiando of Cordillera People’s Alliance, said in Filipino.
They also lambasted President Duterte’s move to rehabilitate the Marcoses and his threats to declare martial law in the entire country.
Marcos ruled the country from 1966, until he was ousted by a People Power mass action in 1986. In 1989, he died while in exile in Hawaii. Last year, Duterte allowed to have his remains buried in LNMB, amid protests that this signaled the return of the Marcoses to Malacañang.
‘Marcos no hero’
Marcos is not a hero, said the victims of human rights abuses during martial law.
“He is a thief, a killer. He cannot be an example to our children and grandchildren,” former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares said. He was arrested and detained twice during Martial Law: first was as a student activist in 1978, he was 18; then and second was in 1983. He was also subjected to torture.
Colmenares said ever since Marcos was ousted by the people, his family had not returned a single amount of ill-gotten wealth to the people.
“The President said that the Marcoses did not stole the people’s money, they just kept it and will return it to the people if the country’s economy is down. Do you believe that the Marcoses did not steal the people’s money?” The crowd replied in a resounding “no.”
Colmenares said that the true heroes are the national minorities who continue to fight oppression and against plunder of the country’s resources.
In a statement, Sandugo chairperson Joanna Cariño also lambasted Duterte’s declaration marking Marcos’ birth anniversary on Sept. 11 as a special non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte.
“President Duterte’s decision is an insult to the victims of martial law and those who fought Marcos fascist dictatorship. Glorifying him is exonerating the Marcos regime of the crimes against the people, including ethnocide and genocide of the Moro and indigenous people,” said Cariño, who was also a victim of martial law.
She said Marcos has committed crimes against the national minorities, such as the killing of Igorot leader Macliing Dulag; the massacres against the Moro, such as the Jabiddah massacre, and those in Palembang and Manili in Mindanao.
Bagobo Matanem Monico Cayog, whose birthday also falls today, narrated the experience of Lumad in Mindanao during Marcos’ Martial Law. He said his relatives and community members were not spared from human rights abuses of the military. He cited the case of a child who ran away when he saw soldiers coming.
“He was shot even if he had done nothing wrong,” he said.
Cayog said even with the scores of people killed during Marcos’ Martial Law, the human rights violations continued, including extrajudicial kilings.
“Many Lumad were killed. Those who staunchly defend our ancestral lands against mining companies, logging and plantation are getting endangered. If this has happened without martial law, how much more after Duterte declared it,” he said. He added that the conflict in
Marawi City has added to the death toll of civilians in Mindanao.
Meanwhile, the groups urged the police to truly serve the people and not the dictator as they state forces were once again mobilized to secure the Marcoses inside the LNMB, just like during the burial last year.
There was a slight skirmish between the police and the protesters but the program pushed through.
Martial law victim and Carmma spokesperson Bonifacio Ilagan also blasted the police for not allowing their sound system to come near the gates of the cemetery. “The last time I heard there is still freedom of expression,” he said.
Satirist Mae Paner lashed at the police who prevented her to go inside the cemetery. She said a civilian wearing police vest barred her from getting inside.
“One high official told me that they do not want any trouble. I said, you don’t want trouble, but making a dictator a hero poses trouble,” she scoffed.
“Magtanong din tayo, hindi tayo pwedeng sunud-sunuran lang. Balang araw uusigin din kayo ng konsensya n’yo (You should learn to question things, you can’t always be just following orders. A day will come when your conscience will haunt you),” she said.
Duterte unfolded completely
Ilagan said there is no one else to hold accountable for the rehabilitation of the Marcoses but Duterte.
He said that Duterte has unfolded completely, from allowing Marcos to be buried in the LNMB to threats to declare martial law. He said the Filipino people have fought against the dictatorship 45 years ago and they will fight, 10 times stronger, to topple another dictator.
“You were no different from Marcos who was like Hitler—dictator and a puppet of the imperialist US,” Ilagan.
“This is not the end our struggle. Sisimulan natin ang mga pagtataguyod na ginawa ng mga naunang bayani, mga tunay na bayaning nagbuhos ng buhay at dugo upang maitaguyod and isang lipunang may tunay na pagbabago,” he said.
JP Rosos, League of Filipino Students (LFS) spokesperson also said that the youth will carry on the struggle of the martial law activists. The youth group was founded on Sept. 11, 1977 during Martial Law. It initially carried out protests against tuition and for students’ rights and welfare, and later took a stand as a national democratic organization.
“LFS’ 40 years of struggle has proven the failure of the US-Marcos dictatorship, even with the imposition of martial law,” he said.