UP students hold a protest in Diliman, Quezon City during the commemoration of the declaration of martial law yesterday.
Michael Varcas
‘Resist alliance of tyrants’
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - September 22, 2018 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — A group of victims of human rights violations called on the Filipino people to resist what they called “an alliance of tyrants,” referring to President Duterte, Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., on the 46th commemoration of martial law yesterday.

“The Duterte regime has enabled the comeback of these tyrants, violators of the rights of the people. No justice has been served when they were in power,” said Evangeline Hernandez, chair of Hustisya and mother of an activist who was slain in 2002. 

Hustisya is an organization formed in 2006, whose members are families of those killed under Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya I and II, her administration’s counter-insurgency programs. 

Meanwhile, rights group Karapatan has documented 1,206 victims of killings and 206 disappearances under Arroyo.

“Now House speaker, she clings on tightly to Duterte to evade accountability and push her political ambitions or, perhaps, it’s the other way around,” Hernandez said. “Who else have they learned and emulated these from but the dictator Marcos?”

Hernandez went on to lambaste the Marcoses for continuing to aspire for higher positions.

Hustisya was among those that welcomed the conviction of retired general Jovito Palparan, whom Arroyo praised in one of her State of the Nation Addresses.

“It is clear that these tyrants and dictators are enemies of the people,” Hernandez said.

Admission, repentance

Members of the academic community were among those that organized activities to commemorate the Sept. 21, 1972 declaration yesterday, with university officials stressing the need to counter “creative revisionism” that threatens historical truths.

The presidents of Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) and De La Salle University (DLSU) urged Filipinos – especially the youth – to be critical in assessing information about the era.

“Read the books, watch the documentaries, but above all listen to the stories and accounts of those who suffered and struggled to keep freedom and justice alive during those years of dictatorship,” said ADMU president Jose Ramon Villarin and DLSU president Raymundo Suplido in a joint statement.

“Do not gloss over the abuses of power, the horrors of state-sponsored violence and the assault against our fundamental freedoms. Do not be deceived by the false claims of those who want to revise our history,” they added.

The university officials said members of the academic community should not abdicate from their duty to educate the next generation on the truths that are being threatened by those who want to destroy them.

They described those calling for the people to move on as naïve, saying “there can be no moving on without admittance, contrition and reparation.”

“Until then the evil tentacles of martial law will continue to fester and wound our democracy,” they said.

“In these present times, when our hard-fought freedom, love of democracy and inalienable human rights are again being challenged – even by those mandated to protect them – we must bear in mind and take to heart the devastating events of that dark period in our history,” added Villarin and Suplido.

UP memorial

At the University of the Philippines, officials signed a memorandum of understanding with the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission (HRVVMC) for the establishment of the memorial for victims of human rights violations.

The memorial is part of the commitment of UP president Danilo Concepcion to recognize the role of the university in the resistance against the dictatorship.

He earlier drew criticism for attending a reunion of the Marcos-era Kabataang Barangay with Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos.

Concepcion previously signed a proclamation declaring Sept. 21 as Day of Remembrance as well as the role of the university in resisting martial law.

“I authorize and encourage the holding of special lectures, meetings and ceremonies devoted to the commemoration of UP’s participation and sacrifice in the struggle against martial law and to the continuing education of our students, faculty and staff on the importance of academic freedom, civil liberties and human rights in our society,” it read. He urged members of the university community to take part in the different activities held in different UP campuses nationwide.

The University of Santo Tomas released a 30-second video highlighting the violations committed during the martial law era.

“We stand for respect for human rights. #NeverAgain,” said UST.

Victims honored

Also yesterday, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) paid tribute to victims of human rights abuses during the Marcos regime.

“We must not forget the lessons of the past so we can guarantee that there will be no repetition of human rights violations and authoritarian abuses. While some are seeking to move on, there has to be accountability in order for healing to begin,” said CHR chairman Chito Gascon.

“The dictatorship experience has paved the way for the creation of independent constitutional bodies like CHR to ensure check and balances and prevent repetition of past excesses and abuse of power,” he added.

HRVVMC executive director Carmelo Victor Crisanto said various projects would be initiated to memorialize the victims of martial law, including those who chose not to claim the financial reparation offered by the government.

“The victims will be memorialized through an archive, a museum and a wall of remembrance. This is to immortalize them in the struggle against the dictatorship,” said Crisanto. – With Janvic Mateo, Romina Cabrera, Jose Rodel Clapano, Sheila Crisostomo

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