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CHR to build P500-M martial law museum

Protesters displayed effigies of human rights victims at the People Power Monument in Quezon City during the commemoration of the 42nd anniversary of Martial Law imposition in the country. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga, Philippines  – The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will construct a P500-million memorial museum for artifacts, memorabilia and other items related to the martial law era under the Marcos dictatorship.

Chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon said the money would be sourced from the interest earned on the P10-billion fund allocated by the government to indemnify those who went through the horrors of martial rule.

More than 10,000 martial law materials have been gathered from some of the 75,000 victims of human rights abuses at the height of military rule in the country. The materials, which include sworn statements, arrest and seizure orders, release papers of those jailed, news articles and photos of the victims, are currently kept at the CHR office and will be transferred to the museum as soon as it is built.

Gascon said his office is still scouting for a site, although Fort Bonifacio, which played a significant role during martial law and has now become a prime commercial district, is being considered.

“Many were jailed there during martial law,“ he noted, adding that the museum will be similar to the Holocaust Museum in Berlin, Germany and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh, which serves as a grim reminder of the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia.

He stressed the need for a memorial museum to remind the younger Filipino generation of the pain that many went through during the dark years.

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“Two thirds of Filipinos did not experience martial law because they were not even born yet. Our population that time was about 40 million,” he said.

Gascon, who visited San Fernando for the groundbreaking ceremony of the regional CHR office here, hopes that the envisioned museum will teach the Filipino youth the value of democracy.

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