Remember, prevent return of 'dark times' under Martial Law – Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday, September 21, called on Filipinos to remember the abuses committed during Martial Law so they may learn from it and prevent "the same perils from ensnaring" the country again.

This was the core of Robredo's mesage as the nation marked the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law under the regime of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. 

Robredo, a human rights lawyer, said only a few Filipinos today have personally lived through "those dark times, when democracy died, and though force and fear, the nation was compelled to accept its passing quietly."

"Majority of our younger generations now know of those days of despair only from textbooks, or stories, or worse, from the fabrications of those who would see tyranny return," said Robredo. (READ: #NeverAgain: Martial Law stories young people need to hear)

According to the Vice President, Filipinos must never forget the abuses under martial law and to foil attempts by the pro-Marcos propaganda to erase from Filipinos' collective memory the killings, torture, corruption, and media oppression that happened then. 

"These fabrications are dangerous for our people. If we do not remember the past, we are condemned to repeat it," said Robredo.

She added the struggle lies in opening the eyes of those who have been deceived, who "do not even know that they are walking a doomed path." 

"This is where our struggle lies today. Remembering the dark past helps our people prevent the same perils from ensnaring our nation once more," said Robredo.

"Our bitter experience under Martial Rule taught us the terrible cost of cowardice, complacency, and collusion in the face of rising tyranny. It is our fervent hope and prayer that this is a lesson we do not need to learn again," she added. 

Robredo is facing an electoral protest filed against her by Marcos' only son and namesake, former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr.

On September 23, 1972, Marcos announced the imposition of nationwide martial law by virtue of Proclamation No 1081. (READ: Marcos’ martial law orders)

The years that followed were considered among the darkest in Philippine history, with the country racking up to $24.4 billion in debt by 1982.

Marcos was ousted following the bloodless 1986 People Power Revolution.

On Thursday, various groups, schools, and opposition lawmakers planned to stage protests and other activities to recall the declaration of Martial Law.

President Rodrigo Duterte suspended classes and work in public school and government offices, calling it a national day of protests. (READ: What Duterte's proclamation says about Marcos' Martial Law

Duterte is an ally of the Marcos clan, and even supported the hero's burial for Marcos. The President had also said that he wants Congress to craft a law that may include a provision granting the Marcoses immunity from criminal liability once they return ill-gotten wealth.

Read Robredo's full statement on the 45th anniversary of Martial Law below:

On September 23rd, 45 years will have passed since Ferdinand E. Marcos announced the declaration of martial law, an act that for the next 14 years would plunge our nation into abuse, corruption, and dictatorship.  

Few Filipinos now lived through those dark times, when democracy died, and through force and fear, the nation was compelled to accept its passing quietly. Majority of our younger generations now know of those days of despair only from textbooks, or stories, or worse, from the fabrications of those who would see tyranny return. 

These fabrications are dangerous for our people. If we do not remember the past, we are condemned to repeat it. Sadly, those who are deceived do not even know that they are walking a doomed path. 

This is where our struggle lies today. Remembering the dark past helps our people prevent the same perils from ensnaring our nation once more. 

Our bitter experience under Martial Rule taught us the terrible cost of cowardice, complacency, and collusion in the face of rising tyranny.  

It is our fervent hope and prayer that this is a lesson we do not need to learn again.

 – Rappler.com 

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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