Backlash over Marcos ‘revisionism’ in PH

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MANILA: The Philippine government faced a backlash Monday over claims it was trying to whitewash the history of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Critics said a series of edits to the Facebook page of the country’s official government record were an attempt to put a positive gloss on years of authoritarian rule.

Among changes that sparked fury over the weekend was the claim that Marcos imposed martial law in 1972 to deal with Muslim secessionists and a communist insurgency.

Opponents charge Marcos declared martial law to keep himself in power. They also say he threw opposition figures in jail and plundered state coffers.


The gazette also said he gave up his role in 1986 to “avoid bloodshed”; historians agree he reluctantly fled in the face of massive popular opposition.

“The caption should have been “Ferdinand Marcos stole $10 billion dollars worth from Filipinos, had 34,000 Filipinos tortured, had 3,240 Filipinos murdered, and was so hungry for power he tried to stay dictator for life,” one angry commentator posted on Facebook.

The furor is the latest chapter in a struggle over the national narrative in a fiercely partisan country, where power has traditionally been passed among a small number of elite families.

Controversial President Rodrigo Duterte—a Marcos ally—has reignited squabbles over Marcos’ legacy with a plan to bury his embalmed body in the “Cemetery of Heroes”.

Mainstream historians agree that Marcos’s 21-year rule was a dark period for the Philippines; a time when extra-judicial killings, disappearances and corruption were the norm.

Most Filipinos lived in grinding poverty, even as the president and his family grew wealthy—a gulf symbolized by the discovery of thousands of pairs of luxury shoes in the first lady’s living quarters.

“We are not in the business of revising history,” assistant press secretary Ramon Cualoping insisted Monday in response to the outcry.

“The Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines is devoid of any political color and affiliations,” he added.

The government later revised the entry to say only that Marcos declared martial law in 1972 and went into exile in the United States in 1986.

Marcos died in 1989 and his family was later allowed to return to the Philippines where they have made a remarkable political comeback, with several members getting elected to major positions.

Duterte, who styles himself as an anti-corruption crusader, is a close ally of the Marcos family and credits them for his election as president in May. AFP

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3 Comments

  1. mabait na pinoy on

    Do not revise or change anything just for the government to look good. The whole world knows the truth, that Marcos was the worst dictator in the world because Philippines was under his rule for 21 years. His families and cronies stole over $12 Billions, that is in Dollars, by the way, tortured 34,000 and murdered 3,240 Filipinos, and wanted to be dictator for life. It cannot get clearer than this, and it should remain this way, simply telling the truth.

  2. I personally believe it’s not revisionism. It’s simply stating the truth. The truth that doesn’t sit well with the anti-Marcos brigade. The truth that the anti-Marcos people have covered up and revised themselves.

  3. “Mainstream historians” are all under the influence of the west and the Philippines’ elites. What do you expect from them? They will write what they are dictated to write for the sake of money and a permanent residency, together with their family, in the west.