Never again
BREAKTHROUGH - Elfren S. Cruz (The Philippine Star) - April 13, 2016 - 10:00am

For those watching the vice presidential debate and who had lived under the Marcos regime, it was uncanny and almost surreal how the young Marcos reminds us so much of Ferdinand Marcos – the gestures, the voice and the arrogance while trying so hard to be charming.

Leni Robredo courageously pointed out, during the debate that while Marcos cannot be forced to apologize for his father’s abuses, Bongbong should at least recognize that injustices were committed during the Martial Law regime. The Marcos heir apparent should also help in the return of his family’s ill gotten wealth.  Robredo also criticized Bongbong for not heeding the court decisions in the United States and Singapore  ordering the return of the Marcos ill gotten wealth.

Bongbong has said that it is time to move on. He means the Filipino people should stop remembering  the Marcosian martial law regime. At the same time, he defends and justifies the declaration of martial law by his father claiming that there was an “imminent “ communist insurgency.

It was this so-called threat that Marcos used as the excuse to jail prominent political opponents like Ninoy Aquino and Jose Diokno; media personalities like Chino Roces, Nap Rama and Jose Mari Velez; and shut down all media entities that did not follow the Marcos dictates.

This brazen ability to tell half truths and outright fictional versions of the truth is not new. In 1974, Ferdinand Marcos said: “ No one but no one has been tortured.”  In 1981, amidst suffering and widespread hunger, Imelda Marcos said: “ Negros is not an island of fear, it is an island of love.”

In 1986, a report by the World Council of Churches said: “The record is shocking. The pain, the agony and the humiliation in the words of the victims and their dear ones is written large in every page. The depths of degradation to which the [ Marcos ] regime has fallen reflects its desperation.” This statement is included in the introduction to “Philippine Testimonies on Human Rights Violations.”

But in 1999, Bongbong had the nerve to say: “ Some of these people who are claiming to be human rights victims have never been victims except [ of] their own greed.”

These quotations are included in the recently published book Marcos Martial Law Never Again by Raissa Robles. The book has seven  chapters: Advent of the New Society; The Terror Machine; Legacy of Torment; The Torture Theater; Islands of Fear; Crescendo and Collapse; and, Amenesia, Impunity, Justice.

The foreword was written by former Senator Rene Saguisag. In the last paragraph, Saguisag eloquently writes: “Again, as a teacher, I never forget what Henry Brooks Adams said: ‘ A teacher affects eternity.’ If we affect the temporal not the eternal, that is reward enough, for human rights violations remain widespread today. Bongbong Marcos asks, what human rights violations during my parents’ watch? This edifying volume answers the foolish question. Learn more about the terror of 1972-1986 from this magnum opus. Raissa, write on. Reader, read on, this excellent deposition for history.”

The book is described as an illustrated history and recounts Marcos Martial Law’s grisly record of human rights violations, clearly establishing that torture was a deliberate policy of the dictator Marcos. The author contextualizes this against a backdrop of historical events and explains why and how Marcos grabbed power under the guise of fighting a Communist threat.

Using books, documents and official records, the author traces the course of the New Society of Marcos, identifies its key players and shows how Marcos used military rule to keep himself in power and perpetuate a regime focused on plundering the economy. Raissa Robles reconstructs Marcos’ police state infrastructure – complete with specially built detention camps – and its techniques of torture. She interviewed sources ranging from two Philippine presidents to generals, colonels and torture survivors.

The book’s Introduction clearly sets the style and substance of the book. Unlike the usual introduction, it relates the stories of two martial law victims. During the early years of martial law, a Marcos confidante, Primitivo Mijares wrote a book which exposed the crimes and corruption of the Marcos families, the Romualdez clan and flunkies like Tatad. The book was The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.

Mijares was lured back to the Philippines and then disappeared. In May 1977, his youngest son Manuel “Boyet” Mijares was kidnapped and brutally murdered. According to Priscilla Mijares, her investigation revealed  that “during the torture of my son [ Boyet], the father was made to appear by the torturers to witness his son’s agony.” The case remains unresolved until now.

The second story is that of Hilda Narciso , a member of the Basic Christian Community in Davao City. She was kidnapped by soldiers and repeatedly gang raped. She recounts her story in the book.

It was Mijares who wrote in 1976: “The whole plot of Marcos is to rule in Malacanang long enough for him to be able to prepare his son, Ferdinand Jr. to take over as the next ruler and from there start a royal hereditary succession to the imperial throne....”

Marcos Martial Law Never Again is a must read  for millennials who need to know the truths of Marcosian rule and who must ensure that it will never happen again.

Erratum:  In my April 7 column “April: Buwan ng Panitikan”, KWF should have read Komisyon sa Wikang Filipino. My apologies.

Summer creative writing classes for kids and teens

Young Writers’ Hangout : April 16, 23, 30, May 21, 28 and June 4 (10:30am-12nn except June 4, 1:30pm-3pm)

Wonder of Words Workshop:  May 2, 4, 6, 10, 11 and 13 (1:30-3:30pm for 7-10 years old and 4-6pm for 11-17 years old) with guest authors, Manix Abrera and Mina Esguerra.

Classes will be held at Fully Booked Bonifacio High Street.  For registration and fee details, 0917-6240196 / writethingsph@gmail.com

Email: elfrencruz@gmail.com

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