We are not blind to darkness and oppression of Marcos years
“Ipaubaya natin ang kasaysayan sa mga propesor, sa mga nag-aaral tungkol sa kasaysayan ng Pilipinas. Kami hindi namin trabaho yun. Ang trabaho namin ay tingnan kung ano ba ang pangangailangan ng taong bayan ngayon.”
—Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
In response to Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr.’s call that teachers and students of history should make a judgment about the Marcos administration, we, the undersigned members of the Ateneo de Manila community, vehemently oppose and condemn the ongoing willful distortion of our history. We deplore the shameless refusal to acknowledge the crimes of the martial law regime. We reject the revision of history, disturbing vision of the future, and shallow call for “unity” being presented by Marcos Jr. and like-minded candidates in the 2016 elections.
Ferdinand Marcos’ regime’s economics of debt-driven growth was disastrous for the Philippines. It was not interested in inclusive development, long-term state-building, or genuine social transformation of the country, despite its “New Society” rhetoric. Instead, Marcos was mainly concerned with perpetuating his personal hold on power by favoring family members and cronies. Thus, he simply created new elites or “oligarchs” rather than abolish them—supposedly one of his main justifications for declaring martial law. Those who dared challenge the regime’s monopoly on power, whether politicians, business people, political activists, organized labor, peasants or urban poor, Church workers, students—young or old, rich or poor—were intimidated, imprisoned, kidnapped, tortured, or summarily executed.
We refuse to forget the atrocities committed by the Marcos regime, and we renew our demand that the perpetrators of these crimes be brought to justice. We also reiterate our position that the government should relentlessly pursue and reclaim all the ill-gotten wealth accumulated by the Marcos family and its cronies. Moreover, victims and their families should be given justice and compensation in full. Any call for unity, most especially from the heirs of the Marcos regime which bitterly divided the country, will be empty and meaningless unless truth and justice are upheld.
We affirm our commitment as faculty members and formators always to teach the truth. The Marcos dictatorship should be remembered as one of the darkest periods of Philippine history. We reaffirm our responsibility as teachers and professionals to keep the spirit of Edsa 1986 alive by imparting to the young that the structures, actions and ideas—including the many lies—that allowed the Marcos dictatorship to impose and perpetuate itself, should be eliminated and never again be allowed to flourish. At the same time, we will work to bring to fruition the dream of Edsa for a just and democratic society.
We reject the argument that democracy does not “work” in the Philippines and that only a dictatorship, benevolent or otherwise, is capable of bringing our country to prosperity. We must instead encourage and harness the full democratic capacity of our people and institutions in order to progress as a nation.
Although inequality and injustice continue to persist, we believe the solution to these problems lies in deepening our democratic institutions and practices, empowering the marginalized, and exacting accountability from our leaders and ourselves.
We condemn, in the strongest possible terms, attempts by some individuals and particularly public figures, to whitewash the Marcos regime’s wanton violation of human rights and to distort its political-economic record. We call on all our politicians, specially those who are running for office in the 2016 elections, to take a definite stand on the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship. We challenge them to join our call never again to allow the conditions of tyranny to take root in our society. We demand that candidates who directly or indirectly participated in and benefited from the regime, apologize and, if necessary, make restitution for their role in the regime or their support for it. Finally, we reject any attempt to give Marcos a hero’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
We vow as teachers and formators to continue to tell the stories of the brutality and corruption of the Marcos family, regime and closest allies. We aspire to keep alive the ideals and heroism of the many brave Filipinos who fought the regime. For as long as we remember and share these stories, we believe that future generations of Filipinos will learn the lessons of the years of struggle leading to the overthrow of the dictatorship during those historic days of the People Power Revolution in 1986.
It has become a glib talking point of the Marcos revisionists and loyalists to say that the People Power Revolution has “failed.” We vehemently disagree. It was truly a genuine popular uprising and triumph against dictatorship. The revolution, however, is unfinished. The fullness of democratization, specially the creation of a social order which respects the dignity of all Filipinos, has yet to be achieved. It is our responsibility now as a people to continue and complete this unfinished struggle.
We must start with the truth.
Ginoong Marcos, mga pinunong tapat sa katotohanan ng kasaysayan ang siyang kailangan ng taong bayan ngayon!
—CONCERNED MEMBERS OF THE ATENEO DE MANILA UNIVERSITY (412 signatories as of 11:30 a.m., 3/2/16)
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