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TURNING POINT: Martial Law: A Distant Drama

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Turning Point by William R. Adan, MindaViews

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews / 21 September) — President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., without going into details, admitted in an interview with Amnesty International (AI) in 1975, that 50,000 people were arrested and detained by the government from 1972-1975.

According to AI, those detained included church workers, legal rights defenders, aids lawyers, labor leaders, unionists, students, political oppositions and journalists.

A pattern of torture was also reported by prisoners of the regime: water cure, electric shock, physical humiliation, mental torture and rape. The Amnesty International report on arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, forced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings were corroborated by Task Force Detainees of the Philippines, International Commission of Jurists, Lawyers Committee for International Human Rights, and the Foundation for Worldwide People Power.

The horror of human rights abuses is equally matched by the atrocious plunder by Marcos of the nation’s wealth. The dictator stole between $5 billion and $10 billion from the country’s coffers, according to the World Bank and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes. Not only Marcos but his wife, as well, was directly involved in the plunder of the country. In fact, in 2018, Imelda Marcos, former governor of Metro Manila and Minister of Human Settlements was found guilty by the Sandiganbayan of creating private foundations in Switzerland from 1978 to 1984 that allowed her family to funnel illegally amassed government funds during the martial law period. She was meted a minimum 44 years prison term.

As of 2020, the Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) has recovered ₱174.2 billion of ill-gotten wealth from the Marcos family and from Marcos cronies since its creation in 1986. And P125.9 billion more is still being run after but its success is getting pitch dark in the new horizon.

The deliberate and persistent effort of the Marcos family to revise history that glamorizes the Marcos dictatorial rule and lifts the corrupt family from the trash bin has been a huge, monumental success: Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is now president of the Republic.

Another Marcos is now calling the shot. There is no more need to grind propaganda. History may now be officially rewritten, erasing any blot that dirties the Marcos name. The PCGG is an anachronism to the new regime. It has to go naturally; it’s just a matter of time. Imelda will not stay a second in jail.

It is sad but, in a little while, with institutional effort, the atrocity and horror of the human rights abuses and the plunder under Marcos’ tyrannical rule may lose its revulsion and sting. 

Not long from now, Martial law would simply be a historic drama for many, a drama we see in movies where there are villains, victims and a hero or two. The script would likely be written by the victor. Whatever, as a transient virtual scene one may simply forget after viewing it. It makes no sense or difference.

Every nation has a sad outrageous past. Ours is Martial law and its revisionist presentation in history. 

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan, Ph.D., is retired professor and former chancellor of Mindanao State University at Naawan, Misamis Oriental, Philippines)

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