NEVER again to martial law and dictatorship.
This was the message of Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo on the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
“Marcos’s dictatorship showed us that lack of courage, apathy and not speaking up to abuses will leave bitter memories. We hope that Filipinos won’t experience this dark chapter of our history again,” Robredo said.
“It has been 45 years since we endured 14 years of abuses, corruption and dictatorship. There are only a handful few who are still around and fewer young people know about the Martial Law abuses, and it would be dangerous if we will let the lies about Martial Law take over,” she said.
Robredo defeated the late strongman’s son and namesake, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., by 263,473 votes in the 2016 vice presidential race. Marcos claims to have been cheated and has a pending protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.
“Unfortunately, the victims of lies do not see the looming darkness. The true essence of our fight depends on how we will protect the truth on what happened during martial law and ensuring that the country will never be captive to such abuse ever again,” Robredo said.
Based on government records, at least 70,000 people were either tortured, were victims of enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings during Marcos’s martial rule.
Sen. Risa Hontiveros, a member of the Senate minority bloc, called on the public to defend democracy from the “threat of Dutertatorship.”
“We live under a ‘Dutertatorship.’ It is an authoritarian regime distinctive for its policy of killing, use of fake news as a political tool to stifle dissent, and its palpable hatred and persecution of women leaders who dare stand up to blatant disregard for democracy. It is Marcos-inspired. It is modern-day Philippine autocratic governance. It has little or no regard at all for the rule of law and civil liberties,” Hontiveros said in a statement.
Hontiveros is part of Tindig Pilipinas, a broad coalition of people’s organizations and civil society groups formed to register their protest against human rights violations particularly extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.
In a statement, the coalition said that it was for a “responsible and accountable government that listens to the people, and is committed to human rights, sovereignty, peace, and the rule of law.”
Detained Sen. Leila de Lima said the President is not only weakening the justice system, he is introducing the establishment of a “new normal of injustice and impunity, where the poor can be killed anytime for the flimsiest suspicion of committing the minutest of crime, while the rich and powerful are rewarded with liberty and alliances after stealing hundreds and millions, even billions, of public funds that should have gone to the poor.”
“This goes beyond injustice. This is already tyranny at its most extreme,” said de Lima, detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center on drug charges that she says were trumped up.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, president of the erstwhile ruling Liberal party, on Thursday said he wondered why the President declared the 45th commemoration of Martial Law as a National Day of Protest.
Pangilinan, together with fellow opposition senator Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, attended Mass at the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in UP Diliman to commemorate the declaration of Martial Law on Sept. 21, 1972.
“Actually, it’s puzzling. The reason why there are protests now is because of the disgusting actions of this administration,” he said.
“As far as we’re concerned, the continued human rights violation, the never-ending killings and the smuggling of P6.5-billion shabu, all this deserve protest action,” Pangilinan said.
Aquino said: “Obviously, the President needs to change his policies on many of these fronts. We’re looking for these reforms to happen. We’re looking for a more moderate members of the administration to start working on these reforms.”
“Of course, our appeal today, stop the killings. I think people need to be more vocal about what they feel is wrong,” he added.
Protesting against the widespread killing of suspected drug dealers and users is not a matter of political affiliation but a moral obligation for Filipinos, former president Benigno Aquino 3rd said.
“They see the color [of political parties], but they should also look at the meat of the message, and people are protesting because of widespread killings,” Aquino told reporters after the Mass in UP Diliman.
with BERNADETTE E. TAMAYO