What Duterte’s proclamation says about Marcos’ Martial Law

Pia Ranada
What Duterte’s proclamation says about Marcos’ Martial Law
Ahead of the 45th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law, Malacañang describes it as a time of 'human rights violations, arbitrary state interventions, rampant corruption, and disregard of fundamental civil liberties'

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte may have expressed admiration for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and may have agreed to his hero’s burial, but the President’s recent proclamation recognizes that Marcos’ Martial Law brought about human rights abuses.

Proclamation No. 319 states that Martial Law during Marcos’ time “has imprinted itself in the collective memory of the people as a time attended by the commission on human rights violations, arbitrary state interventions, rampant corruption, and disregard of fundamental civil liberties.”

The document bears Duterte’s signature and seal and was signed by Acting Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Tuesday, September 19.

It also states that the Duterte administration “recognizes the fear and indignation of the people against a repetition and perpetuation of such human rights violations and all other failings of the government.”

The proclamation, of course, wasn’t written by Duterte but by a team of lawyers in Malacañang, according to a source.

Many critics have accused the Duterte government of revising history by recognizing Marcos as a hero despite the many grave human rights abuses during his regime.

Duterte himself has been assailed for his close friendship with the children of the late strongman, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

When protesters took to the streets to oppose Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, they accused Duterte of being a “tuta” (lapdog) of the Marcoses.

But behind the scenes, Duterte has, on some level, recognized abuses during the Marcos era.

It was through his personal intervention that Martial Law victims received the first tranche of monetary compensation from the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board.

Many groups are expected to hold rallies on Thursday, September 21, the 45th anniversary of Marcos’ Martial Law, to protest policies of the Duterte administration.

The President’s critics accuse him of tolerating, even masterminding, extrajudicial killings in the name of his drug war.

The staging of these rallies is supposedly why Duterte decided to declare September 21 a “national day of protest” through Proclamation No. 319.

The declaration is intended to show “solidarity with the people’s call against all excesses and shortcomings of the government,” reads the Palace proclamation. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.