Image courtesy of the Ateneo de Manila University
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – After vice presidential candidate Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr said historians, not politicians, should judge his father's regime, professors of the Ateneo de Manila University said they oppose the "ongoing willful distortion of our history."
A statement titled, "We are not blind to the darkness and oppression of the Marcos years", was signed by at least 412 faculty members and released Wednesday, March 2.
Signatories from different departments, including several from the history department, refuted the vice presidential candidate's claim that the Marcos years were good for the country. "The Marcos regime's economics of debt-driven growth was disastrous for the Philippines," they said.
"The regime was not interested in inclusive development, long-term state-building, nor genuine social transformation of the country, despite its 'New Society' rhetoric," they added.
They deplored “the shameless refusal to acknowledge the crimes of the Martial Law regime” and said they “reject the revision of history, disturbing vision of the future, and shallow call for ‘unity’ being presented by Marcos Jr and like-minded candidates in the 2016 elections.”
This included Bongbong Marcos' recent calls for a hero's burial for his father. "We reject any attempt to give Ferdinand E. Marcos a hero's burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani," the signatories said.
In their statement, they said Marcos simply created “new elites or ‘oligarchs’ rather than abolish them – suppoedly one of his main justification for declaring martial law." Those who dared challenge the dictator were "intimidated, imprisoned, kidnapped, tortured or summarily executed."
The faculty members also reiterated the need for justice for victims of martial law abuses and the need to pursue recovery of the Marcoses' ill-gotten wealth.
One of the darkest periods
"The Marcos dictatorship should be remembered as one of the darkest periods of Philippine history. We reaffirm our responsibility as teachers and professionals to keep the spirit of EDSA 1986 alive by imparting to the young that the structures, actions and ideas – including the many lies – that allowed the Marcos dictatorship to impose and perpetuate itself, should be eliminated and never again be allowed to flourish," the statement said.
This "revisionism" did not escape criticism from the faculty, who criticized "attempts by some individuals and particularly public figures, to whitewash the Marcos regime's wanton violation of human rights, and to distort its political-economic record."
Historian and professor Dr Jose Edito Tirol previously commented about the issue saying, "It is our fault too, we the present, who chose forgiveness and forgetfulness over justice, of reconciliation over taking back what is rightfully ours, not just our lost national wealth, but our very dignity as a people."
Looking to the elections, the signatories wrote: "We call on all our politicians, especially those who are running for office in the 2016 national and local elections, to take a definite stand on the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship."