MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Vice President Leni Robredo on Saturday, September 21, said the 47th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law that day should remind Filipinos of their duty to protect the Philippines from regressing into despotic rule.
Robredo made the call as another opposition figure drew parallels between the leadership of President Rodrigo Duterte and his “idol,” the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
“Higit sa pag-alala, ang araw na ito ay isang panawagan sa ating lahat na maging kasangkapan ng katotohanan at katarungan. Isang panawagan na gampanan ang ating iisang tungkulin na siguruhing walang lugar ang kahit sinong diktador sa isang bayang malaya,” she said.
"Tandaan natin na walang pinuno ang mas makapangyarihan sa kanyang sambayanang pinagsisilbihan,” the Vice President added.
(More than remembering, this day is a call for all of us to be tools of the truth and justice. A call to fulfill our one true duty to ensure that there is no space for any dictator in a free country. Let’s remember that there is no leader who is more powerful than the country being served.)
The Martial Law regime was marked by killings, torture, disappearances, media oppression, and corruption that has left the Philippine economy reeling to this day.
Robredo expressed confidence that Filipinos would rise to the challenge of not allowing a repeat of the dark Martial Law years marked by state abuses.
“May magtangka mang ulitin ang madilim na yugtong ito ng ating kasaysayan, sama-sama tayong titindig nang taas-noo at sasabihin: Hindi natin hahayaang umiral muli ang kadiliman sa ating bayan. Hindi dito, hindi ngayon, at hindi kailanman,” she said.
(Should there be any attempts to replicate the dark chapter of our history, we would all rise together, heads held high, and say: We would not allow darkness to again rule our land. Not here, not now, not ever.)
Robredo said in Filipino that over 4 decades since the declaration of Martial Law, the Philippines faced “a new challenge” as “people who had trampled on our rights, trampled on our freedom, and stole from our coffers are returning to power.”
“Pinipilit nilang baluktutin ang katotohanan nang walang kahit anong bahid ng hiya at pagsisisi, para sa pansarili nilang kapakanan (They are trying to twist the truth without any tinge of shame or remorse, for their own personal welfare),” she said.
She did not mention any names but she was apparently referring to the Marcos family. Earlier this week, Senator Imee Marcos said that the course on Martial Law being offered at the University of the Philippines in Diliman should also present the Marcos side.
Robredo reiterated, however, that the fight to preserve democracy is not rooted on political feuds but on making sure that no one forgets the horrors of martial rule. (READ: Martial law 'peaceful'? Netizens debate severity of Marcos regime)
“Ang labang ito ay laban sa pagkalimot, pananahimik, at pagkikibit-balikat. Kailanman ay hindi ito tunggalian ng dilaw at pula, at magkakaibang pulitika; laban ito ng bawat Pilipinong naniniwala sa demokrasya; laban ito sa kahit kaninong maglalakas-loob na abusuhin at lapastanganin ang mga taong nagluklok sa kanila sa kanilang kinalalagyan,” she said.
(This is a fight against forgetting, keeping silent, and being dismissive. This has never been a fight between the yellos and reds, and political differences; this is a fight of every Filipino who believes in democracy; this is a fight against anyone who is bold enough to abuse and malign the people who elected them to power.)
In a statement from her cell in Camp Crame, detained Senator Leila de Lima cited the importance of recalling the declaration of Martial Law and how it affected Filipinos.
“Today, as always, it is our shared obligation, our constant duty, to commemorate the declaration of martial law, to instill in the minds and hearts of our countrymen, especially the youth, the lessons from our sufferings under a dictatorial rule for us not to repeat the grievous mistakes of the past,” she said.
“Let us continue to resist any effort at historical revisionism, and remain steadfast in our struggle for a society that is grounded on truth, justice and freedom,” De Lima added.
The senator cited the timeliness of recalling the lessons of martial rule under Marcos.
“Ngayon ay muling nangingibabaw ang lagim at dilim na dulot ng karahasan at pagmamalupit ng isang administrasyong iniidolo si Marcos (Today, doom and gloom persists because of the violence and cruelty of an administration that idolizes Marcos),” she said.
De Lima cited the thousands of deaths in the campaign against illegal drugs, and the killings of community leaders fighting for human rights. De Lima, the first Duterte critic to be detained over what she called “trumped-up charges," also cited the continued harassment of administration critics.
“Ang masahol pa: Ipinamimigay ng Pangulo ang ating teritoryo, negosyo at trabaho sa mga Tsino (Worse: The President is giving away our territory, businesses, and jobs to the Chinese),” she added. (READ: China, the patron, is Duterte's reality check)
Senator Panfilo Lacson, for his part, said that when martial law was declared 47 years ago, this was done "for many good reasons" as he personally witnessed in the first 6 months of military rule "at least from the peace and order perspective."
Lacson was a young officer in the Philippine Constabulary, then under the Armed Forces of the Philippines, during Martial Law.
"Everything that followed was wrong. Greed and abuse took over. Since 1986, it has been the same all over again. When will we ever learn?" Lacson said. – Rappler.com