April 2, 2023

MANILA, Philippines — Survivors of torture and other atrocities under Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law 50 years ago on Wednesday, urging them to demand justice and an apology from his son. abused family members.

Activists staged street protests and a concert, and launched a documentary at the National University of the Philippines. They said the events were designed to prevent a repeat of the abuse and pillaging that Marcos began after martial law was imposed in the Philippines in September 1972, when his term was coming to an end.

The dictator, who was ousted in an army-backed “people power” uprising in 1986 and died in exile in the United States three years later, has pleaded not guilty to any wrongdoing, including accusations against him, his family and cronies during his tenure About $5 billion to $10 billion has been accumulated. strength.

His son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who took office in June after a landslide election victory, spoke at the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. A small group of Filipino-American protesters pursued him, at one point managing to get close and boo him, repeatedly shouting “Never again martial law!” as he got out of the convoy and walked into the building, which was escorted by security.

As of Wednesday afternoon, he or his key officials had not made any statement on Martial Law Day.

For many survivors of abuse under Marcos, now mostly in their 70s and 80s, the anniversary brings back traumatic and painful memories of other victims who were either killed by the state’s military or remain missing. . They denounced efforts to cover up the atrocities and portrayed the years of martial law in pro-Marcos social media as a “golden age.”

“The scars may have healed, but deep down, the anger and sadness are still there, not just because I’ve been through it, but because so many good and patriotic people have died fighting dictatorship,” said Judy, a former cabinet official and women’s rights group Taguiwalo said the radical was jailed for two years and tortured in the 1980s.

Tagivalo, 72, demanded an apology from the president and asked him to “stop lying about the terror of martial law.”

Marcos, 65, turned down such a call. In a TV interview last week, he said his father’s decision to declare martial law, suspend Congress and rule by decree was necessary to fight communism and Muslim insurgency. He also said it was “wrong” to describe the late president as a dictator and denied that he and his family were whitewashing history.

Leftist activist Bonifacio Ilagan, who was detained for more than two years starting in 1974, regularly beaten and tortured, said he would never accept Marcos as president. His sister and several other anti-Marcos activists were kidnapped by government agents in Metro Manila in 1977 and their whereabouts are unknown.

“The trauma has come back with all the inhumanity,” said Ilagan, 70, repeating his call for justice and a clear apology from Marcos. “That’s why in my life I can’t say he’s my president.”

In 1976, Loretta Rosales, the former head of the Independent Human Rights Commission, was arrested along with five other activists by military agents, electrocuted and sexually abused.

She said the president should abide by the provisions of a 2013 law she co-authored as a member of Congress, which requires documenting atrocities and building museums to commemorate the suffering of thousands.

The legislation was used to compensate victims of abuse. Separately, a Hawaii court has ruled elder Marcos responsible for rights violations and awarded $2 billion from his estate to more than 9,000 Filipinos led by Rosales for torture, extrajudicial executions , imprisonment and disappearance against him.

The ouster of Marcos in 1986 was a high point, but decades later, poverty, inequality, injustice and other social ills are still pervasive in the country, Tagivalo said. This has allowed political dynasties, including the Marcos family, to exploit deep grievances to their advantage.

“It’s not because we as a nation are stupid or so tolerant,” Tagivalo told The Associated Press. “I think the biggest lesson we’ve been emphasizing is that it’s not enough to just overthrow a dictator or restore some degree of freedom of the press and academic freedom, civil and political rights.”

“You need to show that democracy works for the majority of people who should have jobs, land and decent livelihoods,” she said.

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