2022 PH presidential race

Pacquiao vows justice for Martial Law victims if elected president

Aika Rey
Pacquiao vows justice for Martial Law victims if elected president

NEVER AGAIN? Presidential aspirant Senator Manny Pacquiao lays a wreath at the commemorative marker of Redemptorist priest Father Roseleo 'Rudy' Romano to remind Filipinos of the atrocities during the Marcos regime in Brgy. Tisa, Cebu City on October 28.

Jacqueline Hernandez/Rappler

Amid '#NeverAgain' signs, Senator Manny Pacquiao says the atrocities of the Marcos regime should not be forgotten. He also thumbs down a standing offer to be Bongbong Marcos' running mate.

Senator Manny Pacquiao said that the atrocities during Martial Law should not be forgotten, and that he would ensure that victims of the Marcos regime would get the justice they deserve if he would be elected president.

Pacquiao made the statement in an interview with the media in Cebu City on Thursday, October 28, after he laid a wreath at the commemorative marker of human rights advocate Father Rudy Romano, a Marcos critic who was abducted during the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and was never found since.

During his stopover at Romano’s marker, Pacquiao’s supporters held up signs that said “#NeverAgain” – in reference to the Marcos years, known as a dark chapter in Philippine history.

Asked why he decided to honor Romano, Pacquiao said in Filipino that his visit “symbolized” Filipinos’ right to free speech.

On whether he was there to send a message that he would hold accountable those responsible for Martial Law atrocities, Pacquiao reiterated in Filipino that that rights should be respected, and that everyone should speak out and live “freely without fear.”

“Sundin natin ang batas. Mag-i-imbestiga tayo kung may nilabag o abuso. Paparusahan ang dapat parusahan,” he said, on whether Martial Law victims can get justice if he wins the presidency.

(Let’s follow the law. We will investigate if there are violations or abuses. Those who are accountable should be punished.)

The senator also said: “Hindi natin puwedeng kalimutan ang mga nangyari. Kumbaga sa sugat, may marka ‘yan. Kahit gumaling ‘yang sugat, may marka pa rin ‘yan. ‘Wag nating kalimutan, pahalagahan natin ang karapatan ng bawat isa.”

(We cannot just forget everything that happened. Like a wound, it leaves a scar. Even if it heals, it still leaves a mark. Let us not forget and we should value the rights of everyone.)

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Is this Pacquiao standing up to the Marcoses and the Dutertes? Pacquiao said it was “nothing personal.”

“Ayaw kong magbanggit ng pangalan, pero itong pagpunta ko rito ay pagbibigay respeto. Ito ay nagsisimbolo ng karapatan ng bawat isa, karapatan ng malayang pagpapahayag ng saloobin,” said the boxing champ-turned-politician.

“Mensahe natin, irespeto ang karapatan ng bawat isa. Lahat may karapatan na mabuhay ng walang takot,” he added.

(I don’t want to mention any name, but my going here is to pay respect. This symbolizes the right of everyone, the right to say anything they want to say. Our message is to respect the rights of everyone. All of us have the right to live without fear.)

Recently, Senator Imee Marcos said that his brother Bongbong – whose family seeks a return to Malacañang – has been eying Pacquiao as his vice presidential bet should he slide down, since they wanted someone who is strong in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Pacquiao has since rejected the offer.

He reiterated on Thursday that he will not slide down to vice president. “Sinabi ko na ‘yan, decided na ko.” (I already said it before, I am decided.)

To recall, Pacquiao is the president of the divided ruling party, PDP-Laban. PDP-Laban was founded in 1982 in protest of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Party stalwarts include Koko Pimentel’s father, former Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr.

In 2019, Imee Marcos ran for the Senate as part of PDP-Laban’s slate given warm ties with President Rodrigo Duterte. Fast forward to 2021, Pimentel’s PDP-Laban was back to square one, saying that the Duterte faction endorsing Bongbong Marcos’ presidency “goes against party principles.”  – Rappler.com

Aika Rey

Aika Rey is a business reporter for Rappler. She covered the Senate of the Philippines before fully diving into numbers and companies. Got tips? Find her on Twitter at @reyaika or shoot her an email at aika.rey@rappler.com.