‪Youth leaders to Duterte: Shame on you for ‘cleaning Marcos’ image‬’

Voltaire Tupaz
'President Duterte should be ashamed of himself for being complicit in cleaning the image of Marcos who raided public coffers and violated human rights. He should be ashamed of being an instrument to fulfill the Marcoses’ political agenda,' says the College Editors Guild

CONTROVERSIAL BURIAL. UP Manila students protest the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Photo by Ben Nabong/Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – Student editors and leaders across the country have accused President Rodrigo Duterte of being part of an attempt to clean up the image of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, following the former president’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

In separate statements, the youth leaders said that rather than unite the country, as Duterte supposedly envisioned, the hero’s burial for Marcos has only divided Filipinos.

The College Editors Guild of the Philippines strongly denounced the Duterte administration for its “unconscionable role in facilitating” the burial.

“President Duterte betrayed the Filipino people by giving the go-signal to bury the tyrant at the Heroes’ Cemetery just to accommodate his political alliance with the Marcoses. He, together with the Supreme Court, is accountable for letting this dark chapter of our history happen,” CEGP national president Jose Mari Callueng said on Saturday, November 19.

Callueng also slammed the President’s call to forgive Marcos, describing it as “an act of impunity.”

“The unapologetic Marcoses do not deserve forgiveness. We shall continue to remind the Filipino people of all the crimes committed by their patriarch until it becomes ingrained into our national consciousness that Marcos is a plunderer, a murderer, and a despot,” he said.

Callueng noted that the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani whitewashed the dark era of martial rule and bastardized the Filipino people’s collective memory.

“President Duterte should be ashamed of himself for being complicit in cleaning the image of Marcos who raided public coffers and violated human rights. He should be ashamed of being an instrument to fulfill the Marcoses’ political agenda,” he said.

RAISED FIST. Scenes outside the Libingan ng mga Bayani, where supporters and protesters gather and soldiers and police officers stand in line to maintain order on Friday, November 18. Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

Divided Philippines

“Burying the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani will not bring peace and unity to the country,” the Bicol University student council said in a statement on Saturday.

According to the student leaders, the contentious Marcos burial “further divides the nation and relives the hurt, insult, and injustice done to the victims of one of the worst regimes in history.”

Duterte had said on several occasions dating back to the presidential campaign that he favored a hero’s burial for Marcos to forge national healing and unity.

“Hopefully, both sides will exercise maximum tolerance and come to terms with the burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos,” Duterte told media in Peru on Friday, November 18, after the late dictator was clandestinely buried in the Heroes’ Cemetery.

The son of the dictator, former senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, has also called for unity in a statement posted on Facebook on Saturday. It was part of his message at the funeral rites for his father.

“Let today be the first day amongst many days, and months, and years of our continuing to work for the unity and the progress of our country,” Marcos said.

Youth should never forget

But student leaders refused to heed the call, demanding that the Marcoses should first apologize for the state-sanctioned atrocities during the tumultuous Martial Law period. (READ: Marcos on dad’s regime: What am I to apologize for?)

“People can only come together if there is justice, and justice starts when Marcos’ heirs acknowledge and atone for the sins committed against the Filipino people,” the Bicol University student council said.

Based on estimates of Amnesty International (AI), during the Martial Law period, 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed. The AI mission, which visited the Philippines from November to December 1975, found that 71 of the 107 prisoners interviewed alleged that they had been tortured.

The Marcoses had been accused of amassing ill-gotten wealth with various estimates putting the total loot at between $5 billion to $10 billion.  (READ: Recovering Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth: After 30 years, what? and What Bongbong Marcos knew of Swiss deposits)

Student leaders and other groups across the country have launched a campaign to review how Philippine history books have portrayed the Martial Law years.

The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) had called on the Department of Education (DepEd) not to pursue its plan to include the Supreme Court ruling favoring a hero’s burial for Marcos in the next batch of history textbooks.

“We are urging DepEd to not traverse the path that celebrates oppression and Marcos’ tyranny. If you are to teach Martial Law and dictatorship, teach it with bias towards the victims of the Martial Law. Do not give the ruling elites, the Marcoses, a chance to propagate erroneous ideas to the minds of the youth,” NUSP spokesperson Kevin Castro said.– Rappler.com