2022 Philippine senatorial race

We lined up for rice rations in Marcos ‘golden era’ – Colmenares

Inday Espina-Varona

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We lined up for rice rations in Marcos ‘golden era’ – Colmenares

Human rights lawyer and Makabayan bloc senate aspirant Neri Colmenares speaks as activists gather in front of the Commission on Human Office in Quezon City following the December 2021 decision on the Anti-Terror Law.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is being made to account for his sins, not his father's, says the human rights lawyer who recalls the hardships of his youth in Negros Occidental

BACOLOD CITY, Philippines – Presidential aspirant Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s efforts to paint his father’s two-decade dictatorship as a golden era for the Philippines increases the odds for a repeat of massive corruption and human rights violations, and record levels of hunger and poverty , warned Makabayan bloc senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares.

Visiting his home turf Bacolod City on Thursday, February 9, and Iloilo City on February 10, Colmenares mixed campaigning with engaging Ilonggos on the myths peddled by what he called the Marcos disinformation networks.

Indi sya golden era,” Colmenares told Rappler in an interview.  (It was not a golden era.)

We lined up for rice rations in Marcos ‘golden era’ – Colmenares

“Grabe ang pamigado sang tawo. Bisan landlords gani nga iban nagapamigado man di gani sa Negros sadto,” the former three-term representative said. (People suffered great poverty. Even owners of sugar lands lost much money in those times.)

He said incompetence and corruption in the Marcos era led to shortages of basic food stuff, leading to rationing.

“Te, ako ya, may kupon ko ya, ginapapila ko sang Nanay ko dira sa Banag-banag sa Villamonte (Bacolod City), kay wala ya bugas nga mabakal mo. Kay gina rasyon ang bugas. Te, golden era na siya?”

(My mother gave me these coupons and sent me to line up in Banag-banag, Barangay Villamonte because there was no rice for sale. They were rationing rice. Is that the golden era?)

“Totally, 47% inflation rate during Marcos’ time, 49% at least poverty incidence. At least 12% ang unemployment. Ay grabe, na ya nga unemployment sang milyon nga mamumugon.” 

(That was terrible, a million sugar workers left jobless.)

Unrepentant, culpable

Colmenares warned that Marcos Jr., in perpetuating the myth of martial law as a golden era, could just revisit his happy days.

The candidate’s social media pages and his events have increased the focus on his dictator father’s martial law anthem, “Bagong Lipunan”.

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The former lawmaker, who was jailed as an 18-year-old teenager for advocating the return of student councils and school papers, said he does not want the next generation of Filipinos to suffer his generation’s experience.

Colmenares spent a total of four years in jail as a young adult and was heavily tortured. He still breaks down when speaking about those years and has received compensation for the abuses.

In 2015, eyeing the vice presidency, Marcos Jr brushed off calls for him to apologize for the excesses and corruption of his father’s regime, which he also served as a governor

Marcos, Jr. said he always apologizes for his own transgressions but said his family’s stand on his father’s presidency is different.

In 2021, he described criticism about his family and his role in the two-decade Marcos dictatorship as “lies.”

“Bongbong Marcos is being made to account for his actions, not for the actions of his father,” he pointed out. 

We lined up for rice rations in Marcos ‘golden era’ – Colmenares

Colmenares stressed that Marcos Jr. is being held to account for his sins, not the sins of his father.

“Una, gin balabagan nya ang pag-return sa ill-gotten wealth. Sa bilog ng Pilipinas, billions of pesos pa tani para sa ayuda, libre nga edukasyon, libre ng konsultasyon. Te, pwede ni sya bala? Presidente ka, gin pamalabagan mo ang kwarta sang pumuluyo?”

(First, he blocked the return of ill-gotten wealth. Across the country, we could have had billions of pesos for aid, free education, free health consultation. That’s not right. You want to be president but you block the return of the people’s money?)

He also noted Marcos Jr’s refusal to pay the proper taxes.

“That’s on him,” Colmenares said in Ilonggo.

“Madalagan ka president, i-impose mo ang tax laws sa mga Pilipino, sa ordinaryo nga titser, ordinaryo nga clerk gabayad tax, ikaw ya indi mag-bayan tax? Ano klase nga presidente man?”

(You want to be President, you will impose tax laws on Filipinos. The ordinary teacher, the ordinary clerk pay taxes but you don’t want to pay your taxes? What kind of President is that?)

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