Researchers find links between pro-Marcos books, sites, online disinformation

Researchers find links between pro-Marcos books, sites, online disinformation
An undated photo showing toppled dictator Ferdinand Marcos who placed the entire country under Martial Law on Sept. 21, 1972.
Malacañang archives

MANILA, Philippines — Pro-Marcos books, heritage sites and online disinformation are linked with one another, researchers from the University of the Philippines found according to a report by VERA Files.

Researchers Miguel Paolo Reyes and Joel Ariate Jr. found that books written in favor of the Marcoses were written by their aides and allies.

They said that most of the authors relied on the Marcoses themselves as sources, while others plagiarized.

Some of the books, they said, framed historian Renato Constantino to be a Marcos supporter, when his work shows otherwise. 

They also found that the books claimed that most victims of Marcos’ brutal martial rule were communists, and rejected any claim of graft and corruption committed by the Marcos family.

“All of these can be categorized as fundamental lies about the Marcoses: from false claims about Marcos’ brilliance and heroism to disinformation about the Marcoses’ wealth and the status of the cases filed against them,” Reyes said in the VERA Files report.

These books, in turn, became the basis of artifacts and photos in museums and sites that commemorate Marcos’ supposed greatness.

For example, the autobiography For Every Tear, A Victory written by Hartzell Spence was the basis of the exhibit at the Ferdinand E. Marcos Presidential Center in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

The narrative in the book The Young Marcos authored by Victor Niruda is closely mirrored by museum articles from Marcos’s birthplace in Sarrat, Ilocos Sur.

Several photos at the Malacañang of the North Museum in Paoay, Ilocos Norte also came from Marcos-era publications, the researchers found.

While there are a lot of pro-Marcos resources available, the researchers found that only 15% of online disinformation supportive of the Marcos family are traceable from these resources.

This, in turn, “saturates the audience with all sorts of information up to a point that the propaganda effort appears to be without an author.”

“They let their sanctioned book and disinformation mingle with often more crude falsities online which lets them keep and grow their loyal base,” Reyes said, as quoted by VERA Files.

Reyes said that aside from debunking falsehoods,it is important to discredit sources to help address this “affront to democracy.”

The two-decade rule of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos led to thousands being imprisoned, tortured, killed and disappeared.

This fact was recognized by a Hawaii court when it awarded 10,000 Filipino human rights victims $2 billion in damages — a ruling that was affirmed by the US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1995 and the Supreme Court in 2003.

Republic Act No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act also recognizes that there “were victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations” under the Marcos regime.

Under RA 10368, human rights violations include warrantless arrests carried out pursuant to Marcos’ declaration of martial law and his other similar issuances.

The law also established the Human Rights Victims Claims Board, which has listed 11,103 people who were victims of human rights violations under Marcos’ rule who would receive around P180,000 to P1.7 million in compensation. — Xave Gregorio

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