In the face of another Marcos, youth take up torch from Martial Law activists

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
In the face of another Marcos, youth take up torch from Martial Law activists
Generations of activists who fought the Marcos dictatorship and are now mounting a battle against another Marcos march at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City ahead of the inauguration of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as president.
Philstar.com / Xave Gregorio

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 3:54 p.m.) — As the country falls to the leadership of another President Marcos, activists from the days of the elder Marcos' brutal Martial Law passed the torch to the youth, counting on them to continue the battle they have long waged against the abuses and excesses of the 1970s to 1980s.

More than 31 million voters elected President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to the highest seat in government in May, signaling an end to the chapter of Post-People Power Philippines. 

"Our generation who fought the Marcos dictatorship 50 years ago is dwindling. A lot of us are passing on. That's why there needs to be continuity," Martial Law survivor Bonifacio Ilagan told reporters in Filipino at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani, a memorial site in Quezon City for victims of Marcos Sr.’s martial rule.

Martial Law victims and survivors and youth representatives took oaths to guard against disinformation and the trampling of people's rights ahead of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s own oath-taking at Thursday noon.

Responding to the victims and survivors' oath, the youth in attendance agreed to continue the campaign to narrate the atrocities that happened under Marcos Sr. from 1972 to 1986, when he had powers as a dictator.

"We deeply understand that what we’ll do is for our own generation and for our fellow Filipinos of future generations. We will never forget the violations of human rights and the plunder of the country’s coffers which was the brand of Marcos’ rule," youth said in Filipino in their oath.

Disinformation battle

Victims and survivors of Martial Law began their oath with a narration of facts that are now being put to under question, largely due to disinformation surrounding the Marcos family on social media.

"What is being called the 'golden years' of the administration of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. are actually the darkest years in the recent history of the Philippines," they said. "Because we fought against the dictatorship, more than 70,000 Filipinos, including us, were jailed, tortured, and some of us even just disappeared and were never found."

Ilagan said young people can lead the charge against disinformation online as they are experts in social media and communication.

"The youth have the ability and expertise here. That's why I think our movement is strong in this regard for our fight to continue. On the part of the old people, we want to offer them our insight, our experience and the lessons we learned in our lengthy battle," he said.

Activists arrested

But the passing of the torch to younger activists is off to a bad start, with three youth leaders reportedly getting arrested after they attempted to hang a banner on a footbridge near the Commission on Human Rights along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City.

Nagkaisa Labor Coalition reported shortly after the program at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani closed that Akbayan Youth’s RJ Naguit and Sentro Youth’s Benjamin Alvero and Jane Labongray were nabbed by police who supposedly "charged" at them and "violently arrested and dragged" the three to police vehicles.

"Throughout the incident the officers refused to explain why the arrest was being made and were very rough with the detained," Nagkaisa said.

"This is unacceptable in a democratic society. We condemn this reprehensible act. It seems this new government is afraid of its own shadow on the eve of its first day of governance."

Akbayan said in an update later in the day that the three youth leaders have been released without any charges after a dialogue with police.




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