Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — Senators expressed conflicting opinions over how the nation should mark the 50th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, father of the current chief executive.
Senators Robin Padilla and Jinggoy Estrada, who ran under President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s Uniteam slate during the elections, urged Filipinos to “move on” as the Marcoses are not at fault over anything.
“What is there to apologize for?” Estrada said. “Mag move on na tayo (Let’s move on). Imagine, President Marcos got the highest number of votes in Philippine history, 31 million. Hindi pa ba sapat ‘yon? (Isn’t that enough?)”
Estrada explained that the 31 million votes prove that the Marcoses have nothing to apologize for.
Padilla shared the same views, saying that the heirs should not be blamed for their father’s faults.
“Kung may kasalanan man ang dating pangulo hindi po kasalanan ng anak ‘yon. Kahit po sa Islamic faith, Catholic faith, ‘yung kasalanan ni Adan hindi naman kasalanan natin,” Padilla said. “Pag hindi tayo nakaalis diyan sa Marcos issue at martial law issue, kailan pa tayo mag-grow?”
[Translation: If the former president committed sins, these are not his children’s. Even in Islamic faith, Catholic faith, Adam’s sins are not ours. If we are not able to move from the Marcos’ and martial law issues, when will we grow?]
Estrada added that human rights victims during the martial law era are free to air their views but it is ultimately up to the President to listen to them.
Senate minority leader Koko Pimentel opposes the views of Estrada and Padilla.
Pimentel, son of former Senate President Nene Pimentel who fought against the senior Marcos’ regime, encouraged Filipinos to learn from lessons of the past.
“Alalahanin natin na (Let us remember) how many years ago, 50 years ago, a dark period descended upon our country because of the declaration of martial law. Try to get some lessons para hindi po maulit itong (so this will not repeat) dark period in our nation’s history,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel argued that protecting citizens’ basic rights and taking lessons from that experience are the best ways to “move on” from the painful memories of martial law.
For Senator Risa Hontiveros, remembering is not enough and efforts should be made to “keep the truth alive.”
“It is not enough that we remember. Let us continue meditating, sharing, and learning from each other,” Hontiveros said in a statement. “The coping mechanism of cherry-picking and selective amnesia should not be tolerated.”
Hontiveros said she expects online trolling to cloud the importance of commemorating the era’s anniversary and encouraged Filipinos to deny trolls from doing so.
The President earlier said he told his children that martial law was something their grandfather “had to do.”
“We recognize the problems that happened, the abuses that occurred like in any war. All of these things are some things that are already part of history,” Marcos said in an interview aired on Sept. 13, his 65th birthday.
The senior Marcos declared martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, citing the need to contain growing public unrest and the possibility of a communist takeover after a series of bombings in Manila.