Happy Dictator Day? Human rights group slams lawmakers’ approval of ‘Marcos Day’ bill

The late Ferdinand Marcos being sworn into office on Dec. 30, 1969 <i>Photo: Presidential Museum and Library / Wikicommons</i>
The late Ferdinand Marcos being sworn into office on Dec. 30, 1969 Photo: Presidential Museum and Library / Wikicommons

A human rights group composed of mostly martial law victims today condemned “in the strongest terms” Congress’ approval of a bill declaring Sept. 11 a holiday in Ilocos Norte to commemorate the birthday of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was born in the province.

“This move by the House of Representatives is extremely infuriating and offensive, especially for us victims of Marcos’ human rights violations. This is an affront to the Filipino people, who suffered because of the oppressive policies under Marcos and the plunder of the nation’s coffers,” Danilo dela Fuente, Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (“Ex-Detainees Group Against Detention and Arrest”/ SELDA) vice-chairperson said in a statement.

Read: Netizens blast former first daughter Imee Marcos for telling Filipinos to ‘move on’ from Martial Law

Dela Fuente added that House Bill 7137 also known as President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Day, which was approved on final reading by the House of Representatives yesterday, “is a glaring act of historical revisionism, and contradictory to Republic Act 10368.”

RA 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013  affirmed that it is “the policy of the State to recognize the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos.”

The SELDA vice-chair said “it is utterly exasperating that amidst this public health crisis and worsening economic situation, our so-called representatives are busy being pawns of the Marcoses and a Marcos wannabe instead of prioritizing comprehensive, pro-people and scientific measures to address the nation’s problems.”

Dela Cruz also accused President Rodrigo Duterte of attempting to “rehabilitate the Marcoses’ name” and that it was his “form of payback after they supported him in his bid for presidency.”

“We in SELDA strongly condemn this brazen act of covering up the crimes of this blood-thirsty plunderer and tyrant. We strongly oppose this administration’s desperate attempts to rehabilitate the Marcoses into power,” Dela Fuente stressed.

Read: Despite human rights violations, Malacañang defends Marcos’ martial law, calls it a ‘necessity’

Some 197 members of the lower chamber yesterday voted yes to the bill, nine said no, and one abstained. House Bill No. 7137 or President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Day was sponsored by Ilocos Norte Representatives Ria Fariñas, Rudy Fariñas, and Angelo Marcos-Baba—Marcos’ nephew.  No version of the bill has currently been filed in the Senate, but if one is filed and approved on the final reading, the bill will only need Duterte’s signature before it becomes a law.

At the start of his term as president in 2016, Duterte allowed the late dictator to be given a hero’s burial with full military honors. Then two years ago, Duterte said that the country is better off “choosing a dictator” such as Marcos  to succeed him as president. Salvador Panelo, Duterte’s former spokesman, also said that the martial law years — marked by widespread torture, disappearances, killings, and a crippled economy — was a “necessity.”

To this day, the Marcoses has maintained that they have not stolen US$10 billion from the national coffers in the 21 years that former President Marcos ruled the Philippines, despite former first lady Imelda Marcos’ conviction of several graft charges. In 2018, former presidential daughter Senator Imee Marcos even said that Filipinos should just “move on” from their harrowing memories of martial law.

 

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