MANILA (UCAN): Church leaders have called on Filipinos to never forget the “horrors” of martial law, which was imposed across the country almost half a century ago on 21 September 1972.
The declaration of martial law by late president, Ferdinand Marcos, resulted in thousands of human rights abuses.
Amnesty International recorded over 100,000 victims, with at least 70,000 people arrested, 34,000 tortured and 3,240 others killed.
Bishop Arturo Bastes of Sorsogon, said Filipinos have to be reminded of the atrocities of martial law, adding that there is a “sinister plot … to erase the memory of the darkest period” in Philippine history.
He said “articles should be written … to remind Filipinos, especially the young, of the horrors of martial law imposed by Marcos.”
The bishop said, “The revisionists of our history are guilty of dishonesty, covering up the truth of the cruelty of martial law.”
Bishop Teodoro Bacani, the former bishop of Novaliches, said Filipinos should remember how “oppressive and harmful” martial law was to the people. “It bred a culture of subservience and corruption from which we have not recovered,” he said.
Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga, exhorted people to resist the return of authoritarian rule. “Be vigilant so that it will never happen again,” he said. “Show that we cherish what we learned from martial law, promote and protect our rights and freedom,” he said.
Bishop Joel Baylon of Legazpi, agreed that there was a need to educate the country’s young people about those dark years. “Many of the new generation indeed do not have the correct knowledge or understanding of martial law and what it did to our country,” he lamented.
However, he called for a balanced presentation of martial law, “not only its negative impact but also the positive ones.”
Faith-based groups and civil society organisations held protest rallies in cities across the country on September 20 “to remember that it was the abuse of power that has led the worst form of criminality.”
A statement from the Youth Act Now Against Tyranny group said, “Our future as a country can only be sustained if the young generation is taught to fight for and not to compromise the values that make for a great nation.”