President Benigno Aquino 3rd minced no words in criticizing the Marcos family on Thursday, the 30th anniversary of the EDSA revolt, as he reminded Filipinos of the repression of freedom during martial law.
Aquino enumerated the failures of the Marcos regime, saying these were proof that the dictator’s years were not the “golden age” of the Philippines as claimed by some.
“I wish to emphasize: These are not products of imagination. These are neither theories nor the opinions of a small few. Martial law actually happened. There was a dictator who, along with his family and his cronies, abused his position, and the price for this was the lives and the freedom of Filipinos,” he said.
Filipinos, according to the President, now enjoy unfettered freedom unlike before.
“Back then, if you had the good fortune of attaining a copy of forbidden articles, you would do everything you could to conceal it from the agents of martial law, because if you were caught with the mere possession of such articles, it was enough for them to imprison you with no fixed term, without even a court case,” he said.
“In fact, back then, if three friends were found gathered together, it was enough for the state to file a case for illegal assembly against them. These freedoms that do not even merit a second thought today are a stark contrast from the situation under the Marcos regime,” Aquino added.
The President said he “shakes his head” whenever he hears that the Philippines experienced its “golden age” during the Marcos years.
“Perhaps they were golden days for him, who, after completing two terms as President, which is equivalent to eight years, created a way to cling to power… Perhaps they really were golden days for Mr. Marcos’ cronies, and for those close to him,” he added.
Aquino said it was under Marcos’ term when the country’s debt ballooned from P2.4 billion when the strongman took office in 1965 to P192.2 billion when he was deposed.
“And because this money did not go where it was supposed to, the payment of this debt burdens us to this day,” the President noted.
“It was the golden age of the NPA [New People’s Army], whose ranks grew from 60 people to 25,000 because of the people’s disillusionment with the government. It actually reached a point where Davao was being used by the NPA as an urban laboratory, as a means to prepare attacks on several cities across our nation,” he said.
Aquino added that the martial law years were a “golden age for those who abused our Moro brothers and sisters.”
He turned his ire on Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. and Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile for blocking passage of the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
“Is it not true that the BBL has hit a road block in the Senate Committee on Local Governance, headed by Senator Marcos? Is it not true that, in the last session day, it was Senator Enrile who continued to interpellate? And is it not true that these two surnames were the ones who pushed for a military solution against the Moros during the dictatorship?” Aquino asked.
Marcos is running for Vice President as an independent candidate.
Aquino warned that there was no certainty that the senator will not repeat the horrors under his father’s rule.
“If he cannot even see the wrong in what his family did, how can we be confident that he will not repeat the same? All I can say is, thank you, because you have at least been honest in showing us that you are ready to emulate your father. Do not mistake me: This is not about the Aquinos versus the Marcoses, it is clear to me that this is about right versus wrong,” he said.
“It is also true that the sins of the father should not be visited on the son. At the same time, what I cannot understand: The dictator’s own blood had all this time to say, ‘My father did the country wrong; give us the chance to make it right.’ And yet, just think, this was what he said, ‘I am ready to say sorry if I knew what I have to be sorry for’,” the President added.
“Today, I ask the youth: Take it upon yourselves to learn of what happened during EDSA…I hope that you make the most of this chance to see how important the freedom and the democracy you now hold in your hands are. God willing, we will all do our part so that darkness will never consume the Philippines once more. God willing, the freedom we so long dreamed of, will never, ever be taken away from us once more,” Aquino said.