Filipinos urged to ‘fight historical revisionism, recall martial law abuses’

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MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer) — Filipinos should remember the lessons of martial law and push back any attempts to revise it, the Commission on Human Rights or CHR said during the 34th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution on Tuesday.

According to CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia, fighting historical revisionism should also be coupled with standing up against attempts to undermine human rights — just like what happened during the term of former president and late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

“More than three decades since the peaceful revolution, our continuing duty is to remember. It is in remembering that we protect our country against the many forms of human rights violations arising from authoritarian tendencies. We must learn from our history — knowing that our past informs our present and molds our future,” De Guia said in a statement.

“As we see signs of shrinking of civic space and historical revisionism, we must push back. Let us resist efforts that seek to redefine human rights as only reserved to a few. Human rights is for all. This comes with the reminder that the government exists to protect and uphold the rights of its people—regardless of their race, color, gender, religion, or affiliation,” she added.

In February 1986, the Marcos family fled Malacañang, the presidential palace, after a series of protests that culminated on Epifanio delos Santos Avenue or Edsa where people have gathered to shield military defectors from government forces that included fighter planes and tanks.

The ouster came 21 years after Marcos was elected into office, in a rule a lot of victims said mired in plunder claims and human rights violations. After the Edsa revolution, the CHR was established to serve as a watchdog against potential abuses.

Protesters display a banner with an anti-Marcos slogan during a demonstration at a park in Manila on August 14, 2016, against plans to honour the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos with a state burial. About 2,000 people gathered in heavy rain to denounce Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's plans to move late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' remains from his northern hometown to the National Heroes' Cemetery in the capital, Manila, next month.  AFP photo

Recently though, groups supportive of the Marcos family have pushed to revise history by picturing the martial law period the “golden age” of the country.

Marcos’ son and former Sen. Bongbong Marcos even called for a revision of textbooks being used to teach school children, as the civil cases were being dismissed in the anti-graft court.

However, Vice President Leni Robredo and other critics of the Marcos family said the only revision needed is to highlight the atrocities of their patriarch even more.

The CHR, however, expressed optimism that there are still a strong yearning coming from the youth to fight abuses, the same passion from people who participated in the First Quarter Storm, a series of initial protests against Marcos.

“Similar to the courage of the youth in the past, we see the idealism and vigor of the young Filipinos today in speaking truth to power and in standing up against various forms of oppression and abuses,” De Guia said.

“Through our individual and collective efforts, may our renewed vigor allow us to always defend democracy as we aspire for a just and humane society. For in the end, it is in the climate of democracy, despite its imperfections, that our rights and freedoms are best nurtured, allowing us to achieve our best potential and live a life of meaning and dignity,” she added.