Revise history books, but only to emphasize Martial Law atrocities – Robredo

MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo said if there is anything that needs to be changed in history textbooks, it is to put more focus on the atrocities committed by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

This was Robredo’s response on Monday, January 20, when asked by reporters to comment on the call of her rival Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr to revise history books, which contain grim accounts of the 21 years the latter’s father ruled in the Philippines with an iron fist. (READ: Martial Law, the dark chapter in Philippine history)

“Ako, medyo nakakatawa kasi iyon eh. Kasi kung may kailangang baguhin, kailangan siguraduhin na ma-inculcate sa bawat mamamayang Pilipino kung ano iyong kasamaan na dinala sa atin ng diktadurya,” the Vice President said in an ambush interview in Quezon City. 

(For me, it’s quite funny. Because if there’s anything that needs to be changed, it is the need to ensure the atrocities during the dictatorship are inculcated in the minds of every Filipino.) 

“Kasi dahil pinapayagan ulit natin iyong mga Marcos na mamayagpag, gustong sabihin hindi tayo natuto. Kaya kung mayroong kailangang baguhin, iyon iyon,” she added.

(Because we are allowing the Marcoses to thrive once again, that means we did not learn anything. If there’s anything that we need to change, that’s it.)

On January 10, the younger Marcos – the only son and namesake of the late strongman – said history books should be revised because they supposedly contain “lies” about how his father ruled. (READ: U.P. History professors slam Bongbong’s call to revise Marcos regime accounts in textbooks) 

But the facts are clear: the 21-year rule of the late dictator was marred by corruption, killings, torture, disappearances, and media oppression. The Marcoses plundered the country's coffers, with various estimates putting the amount at between $5 billion to $10 billion. (READ: [ANALYSIS] Just how bad was corruption during the Marcos years?) 

Amnesty International estimated that about 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, and 3,240 killed during Martial Law.

The Marcos clan has long been attempting to revise history in a bid to erase the crimes they committed during the dictatorship. (READ: Networked propaganda: How the Marcoses are using social media to reclaim Malacañang)

The family patriarch was ousted during the 1986 EDSA People Revolution. But years later, the Marcos clan has successfully returned to politics, holding key posts in the so-called Solid North provinces.

His daughter Imee Marcos is currently senator, while his wife Imelda Marcos was formerly congresswoman of Ilocos Norte’s 2nd District.

Bongbong himself was a senator before he ran but failed to win as vice president in 2016, when Robredo defeated him by just  263,473 votes. Bongbong has since filed an electoral protest against the Vice President. – 

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 or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.