CHR to Duterte: Learn from lessons of Marcos dictatorship

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Human Rights reminded President Rodrigo Duterte of the lessons learned from the dictatorship of the late Ferdinand Marcos. 

“There is a need to learn from the lessons of an overthrown dictatorship which resulted to rampant human rights violations under the Marcos regime,” CHR Spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia said on Friday, February 9.

De Guia was reacting to the statement of Duterte on Wednesday, February 7, that he he needs to be a dictator to effect change in the country. (READ: Duterte: If I won't be a dictator, nothing will happen to PH) 

The Marcos regime was marked by human right abuses and plunder of the country's coffers. (READ: #NeverAgain: Martial Law stories young people need to hear)

According to Amnesty International, about 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, and 3,240 killed during martial rule in the Philippines from 1972 to 1981. (READ: Martial Law, the dark chapter in Philippine history)

The CHR urged the Duterte administration to respect the 1987 Philippine Constitution – the supreme law of the land – as it aims to bring progress to the country. 

“As a government of the people, by the people, and for the people, it should strive to protect the rights and liberties enshrined in our Constitution instead of painting them as obstacles to national development,” De Guia said. 

‘Dictators are overthrown’ 

Activist youth group Anakbayan, meanwhile, warned Duterte to “be careful what you wish for.”

“If you study history it is clear that dictators have rarely effected change. Dictators are overthrown by an oppressed people collectively fighting for genuine change,” Anakbayan National Secretary General Einstein Recedes said.

After a 21-year rule, Marcos was overthrown by a popular uprising in 1986 that came to be known as the EDSA People Power Revolution. Marcos and his family, together with some allies, were forced into exile to Hawaii.

The group of Filipino youth emphasized that dictatorship is not the way to achieve genuine change, adding that Duterte’s latest statement reflected his apparent desire to set up a “full-blown fascist dictatorship.”

“Real change comes not from dictatorial rule killing and bullying everyone that opposes him but in a national democratic revolution that will implement genuine agrarian reform and national industrialization, provide access to social services, and bring real democracy for the country’s toiling masses,” Recedes said.

Prior to his latest statement, Duterte had said that he would not be a dictator as becoming one would dishonor his mother, the late Soledad Roa Duterte, a prominent activist against the Marcos regime. –

Jodesz Gavilan

Jodesz Gavilan is a writer and researcher for Rappler and its investigative arm, Newsbreak. She covers human rights and also hosts the weekly podcast Newsbreak: Beyond the Stories. She joined Rappler in 2014 after obtaining her journalism degree from the University of the Philippines.