MANILA, Philippines – Despite the potential return of the Marcoses to Malacañang, Martial Law victims who suffered the most under the tyrannical rule of the dictator remain hopeful.
Renowned playwright and Martial Law survivor Bonifacio “Boni” Ilagan said that although Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. is seeking the presidency, the EDSA People Power Revolution is proof that the Marcoses are not invincible. Ilagan is the convenor of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA).
“But the people’s movement had proven time and again that the Marcos cabal is not unconquerable, as in EDSA 1986 and in the 2016 elections. As we used to sing in the 1970s, we shall overcome,” Ilagan said in a message to Rappler.
On Friday, February 25, the country commemorates the 36th anniversary of the People Power Revolution. The peaceful uprising toppled the dictatorship of the late tyrant Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Another CARMMA convener and former social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo said she both felt sadness and anger over Marcos Jr.’s bid for the presidency. However, Taguiwalo, who is also a Martial Law survivor, said tyranny will not last forever.
“Lungkot. Dahil maalaala ko ang libong pinatay at ang mga libo-libong natortyur at ikinulong. Galit. Dahil walang pagsisisi sa mga ginawang kasalanan at pagbabalik ng nakaw na yaman,” Taguiwalo told Rappler.
(Sadness. Because I remember the thousands killed, tortured, and detained. Anger. Because there is no remorse over sins committed and ill-gotten wealth has yet to be returned.)
“Pagtibay na tindig na patuloy na ipaglaban ang katarungan, kasaganaan, kalayaan, at kapayapaan. ‘Di mangyari na may forever ang tiraniya,” Taguiwalo added. (We should strengthen our fight for justice, prosperity, freedom, and peace. It cannot happen that tyranny will last forever.)
Both Ilagan and Taguiwalo were tortured during Martial Law. Decades later, they are leading CARMMA, which opposes and fights the return of the Marcoses to power.
Kris Buntag, daughter of a desaparecido (disappeared), said that although seeing the Marcoses rising again saddens her, it also challenges her to fight.
“As a daughter of a desaparecido, seeing the Marcoses rising and claiming power again despite what they have done to our country feels like losing someone I dearly loved,” Buntag told Rappler.
“It’s heavy, I wanted to feel it longer but at the same time, it internally fuels me to stand up for truth no matter how uncomfortable it may be and be better in my field as a public servant carrying with me the values my family have instilled in us despite what we have experienced as a family of a Marcos Martial Law victim,” she added.
Buntag’s father, Bernardo Buntag was only 26 years old when three armed men approached him and brought him with them. Over three decades later, Bernardo has yet to be found.
Danilo dela Fuente, vice chairperson of Samahan ng mga Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) and a Martial Law survivor, said he foresees Marcos Jr. going after the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) if he wins.
“Kapag naging presidente si Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., tatanggalin niya ang PCGG…Ipapatupad niya ang sabi niya [tungkol sa] NTF-ELCAC (National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict). Hindi niya ito bubuwagin. Undeclared martial law tulad ngayon ang magiging patakaran niya,” Dela Fuente said in a message to Rappler.
(If ever Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. becomes president, he will abolish the PCGG and push through with what he said about the NTF-ELCAC. He won’t abolish it. Undeclared martial law just like what we have now will be his policy.)
The PCGG was established to go after the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses. As of September 2021, the commission has already retrieved P174 billion from the Marcoses, but P125 billion more has yet to be retrieved. – Rappler.com