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Imelda attends mass for martial law victims

Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - February 24, 2016 - 9:00am

MANILA, Philippines – Former first lady Imelda Marcos was wheeled into the Baclaran church yesterday, not realizing she had joined a mass for victims of the authoritarian regime of her late husband, Ferdinand Marcos.

The 86-year-old Ilocos Norte representative, in a wheelchair, sat in front of the altar of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish as several martial law victims recounted their ordeal.

Nardy Sabino, secretary general of the ecumenical group Promotion of Church People’s Response (PCPR), said it was “coincidental” that Marcos was at the church in Parañaque at the same time that they were holding their program for the human rights victims.

But others said Marcos is a devotee of the Our Lady of Perpetual Help and is often seen attending mass at Baclaran Church, especially on Wednesdays.

It just so happened that yesterday also fell on the day before Filipinos commemorate the EDSA revolution that ousted the Marcoses from power in 1986.

Wednesday is known to the faithful as “Simbang Baclaran” day when Marian devotees flock to this church to hear mass, pray and venerate Mother Mary. Baclaran Church, or the national shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help, located in Parañaque City has several scheduled midweek masses.

Aside from the testimonies of victims, Marcos also heard mention of martial law and the importance of the EDSA Revolution during the homily.

Sabino said Marcos was just “stoic, unmoved,” when asked how the former first lady reacted to these criticisms.

Sabino said they made arrangements to sponsor the 10:45 a.m. mass at Baclaran yesterday to commemorate the EDSA People Power revolution.

They also prepared a photo exhibit and a documentary video on martial law.  

Marcos reportedly arrived around the time the mass started and left after communion. She reportedly ignored the exhibit that the group had set up.

When asked if there were people who vented their anger against Marcos during the mass, Sabino said the churchgoers were civil and did not prevent her from leaving the church or criticizing her.

“It was not our intention to criticize her. Actually, our real target was the audience, for them to remember and understand the violence that happened during the martial law years, the disregard for life and dignity of people during that time,” he said.

Sabino said after listening to the homily and testimony of a victim, “we just hope that she (Marcos) understands and takes to heart that during the martial law years there were many people who lost their father, their mother and their children. There were also a lot of people who suffered.”

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