‘Complete’ picture of Martial Law needed in school curriculum

Jee Y. Geronimo
(UPDATED) Senator Bam Aquino says any online effort to revise history can be countered by an educational system that provides students with the right foundation on what happened during Martial Law

MARTIAL LAW. President Ferdinand Marcos meets with military leaders for Martial Law instructions. File photo from the Presidential Museum and Library PH

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Department of Education (DepEd) has committed to a curriculum change that will show the “complete” picture of Martial Law, including the “corruption and human rights abuses” during that time.

This was revealed by Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV on Tuesday, September 20, after the Senate committee on education, arts, and culture conducted a hearing on the country’s Martial Law education.

Ngayon, Secretary Briones herself said na itong curriculum change, sisikapin nila na buo iyong picture, mas makikita ng mga kabataan natin iyong downside ng Martial Law, which of course, is the corruption and human rights abuses,” Aquino, who chairs the committee, said in an interview after the hearing.

(Now, Secretary Briones herself said this curriculum change, they will try to complete the picutre, and the youth will see the downside of Martial Law which, of course, is the corruption and human rights abuses.)

The hearing was held on the eve of the 44th anniversary of Martial Law. On September 21, 1972, then President Ferdinand Marcos signed Proclamation 1081, which placed the entire Philippines under Martial Law, until 1981 or almost a decade later.

During the Tuesday hearing, Aquino lamented the revision of history regarding Martial Law. Aquino even showed an old textbook which painted a rosy picture of the Martial Law era.

The textbook, he said, did not include anything about the “theft” during that time, as well as the people who were imprisoned and killed. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know)

Nakakahiya sa mga tao gaya ni [Secretary] Briones. Siya mismo Martial Law victim. Siya mismo nahirapan noong panahong iyon. It’s a disservice and a slap in the face for those victims na parang kinakalimutan natin ang masamang nangyari noong panahon,” Aquino said.

(It is embarassing to do that to people like Secretary Briones. She herself is a Martial Law victim. She herself suffered during that time. It’s a disservice and a slap in the face for those victims if we forget the atrocities during that time.)

In a statement, DepEd Undersecretary Dina Ocampo explained that martial law in the basic education curriculum is included not only in the subject Araling Panlipunan or Social Sciences, but also in other subjects like Edukasyon sa Pagpapakatao.

“Older kids might be more able to handle narratives, but as for the younger children, we will have to be very careful. Balancing authenticity of sources and making it age-appropriate are the challenges,” she added.

Briones said the goal is to teach children to be critical.

“We teach human rights and democracy as early as Grade 2. In Grade 6, we already include a portion of Martial Law in history. The theme is human rights, there is a chapter in Grade 6 about dictatorship not just in the Philippines but all over the world,” she said in a mix of English and Filipino.

Before Briones took office, she had said that her department’s review of history books will cover the administration of all Philippine presidents, and not just that of Marcos’. 

Martial Law online

On Tuesday, Aquino also called for the proper implementation of Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

The law mandates the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission to work with DepEd and the Commission on Higher Education to make sure that the curricula from basic to tertiary education include teachings on Martial Law atrocities, and the lives and sacrifices of human rights violations victims.

He said that any online effort to revise history can be countered by an educational system that provides students with the right foundation on what happened during Martial Law.

Citing National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chair Maria Serena Diokno, Aquino said the atrocities of Martial Law are no longer disputable as these are already historical facts.

Natatakot ba tayo o nahihiya na pag-usapan ang masasamang bagay sa ating kasaysayan? Palagay ko, kailangan nating harapin iyan so we won’t repeat the mistakes of the past at iyong ating bayan din, makita natin na buo ang ating kasaysayan. Wala tayong kinakalimutan na mga bagay bagay.

(Are we afraid or embarassed to talk about the bad things about our history? I think we have to face those so we won’t repeat the mistakes of the past, and for our country to see a complete picture of our history. We are not forgetting anything.)

Aquino said Martial Law won’t be taught yet this year using textbooks since DepEd is still going through a transition.

Still, he lauded some schools where teachers “do their best to teach about it” and take the initiative to use their own learning materials.

Alam naman iyan ng DepEd but we’re hoping that in the years to come, itong curriculum na mas kumpleto, mas naipapakita iyong masasamang nangyari din, iyon iyong gamitin sa ating mga eskuwelahan,” Aquino added.

(DepEd knows that, but we’re hoping that in the years to come, a curriculum that is complete and one that shows the atrocities of that time will be used in schools.) – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.