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MANILA, Philippines – Partido Lakas ng Masa senatorial bet Luke Espiritu refuted both statements of fellow candidates human-rights-lawyer-turned-government-spokesperson Harry Roque and suspended lawyer Larry Gadon about Martial Law and the Marcoses.
During a debate organized by the Sonshine Media Network International (SMNI) owned by fugitive Apollo Quiboloy, the senatorial candidates were each asked about the juvenile justice and welfare act. Gadon in his answer, took a swipe at the Catholic Church and said the Church has been criticizing Martial Law.
Taking his turn, Espiritu highlighted the atrocities committed by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. However, the Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino president and bet under Leody de Guzman’s ticket, was interrupted by Gadon.
Espiritu had to insist “It’s still my time” 11 times and ended with “Don’t be rude” to stop Gadon. The BMP president then completed his statement on Martial Law atrocities.
“Binuksan mo ang usapan, ‘wag mo ‘ko pagbawalan. I go for the record, Amnesty International, 3257 ang pinatay no’ng panahon ni Marcos. It’s my time ‘wag kang [Gadon] bastos. 35,000 ang tinorture, 70,000 ang kinulong. It’s a matter of record,” Espiritu said.
(You opened the discussion, don’t interrupt me. I go for the record, Amnesty International said 3,257 were killed under Marcos. It’s my time, don’t be disrespectful. 35,000 were tortured, 70,000 were detained.)
Amnesty International’s data showed that 70,000 people were detained, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed under Marcos’ term. Gadon also falsely claimed that the Martial Law victims had no evidence to present to local court and to the Court of Appeals (CA) in a particular case.
“Noong nagkaroong ng kaso sa Hawaii, ‘yong 10,000 human rights victims, noong inimpliment nila rito, nag-file sila ng petition sa RTC, wala silang naiprisintang ebidensya. Pagdating sa Court of Appeals wala rin so asan ‘yong sinasabi nilang human rights violation na ‘yan,” Gadon claimed.
(When there was a case in Hawaii, the 10,000 human rights victims implemented the case in the country, they filed a petition in the Regional Trial Court, they couldn’t provide evidence. Even in the Court of Appeals, there was none so where’s the human rights violation they’re saying?)
However, the CA decision stated that the case was dismissed because of lack of jurisdiction and not for lack of evidence. The decision also noted that the right to due process of the unnamed claimants and even Marcos was violated.
Espiritu vs Roque
Former human rights lawyer Harry Roque defended the dictator’s son and presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. during the debate and claimed that Marcos Jr. has no records of human rights violations.
“Kung anomang nangyari sa nakaraan, inisa-isa ko po ang records, wala pong kaso for human rights violations sa Amerika si Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Inisa-isa ko rin po ang mga kaso na decided ng ating Philippine Supreme Court, totoo po, co-administrator si Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos [Jr.] wala pong kaso na siya mismo ang nagnakaw,” Roque claimed.
(Whatever happened in the past, I checked the records one by one and there was no case of human rights violations in the US against Ferdinand Marcos Jr. I also checked individually the cases decided by the Philippine Supreme Court, and it was true, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was co-administrator but there was no case to prove that he plundered.)
As administrator of his father’s estate, Marcos Jr. fought the government’s claims to their family’s ill-gotten wealth. By entering into an agreement with the government in 1993, a US court held Marcos Jr in contempt, a judgment worth $353 million that he continues to evade to date, and whose effectivity has been extended to 2031.
There’s also a Supreme Court ruling that charges the Marcos estate, including him, P23 billion in deficient estate tax, which, according to lawyers contesting his candidacy, is now equivalent to P200 billion.
Espiritu immediately responded to Roque by noting the former spokesperson’s track record – from being a human rights fighter to a Senate bet under Marcos’ slate.
“With all due respect to Atty. Harry Roque, I know your history. You were anti-Marcos before, you were for human rights before. You spent your life against the Marcoses, you worked for human rights. And now that you were given a Senate spot under the party of Bongbong Marcos, now you cry Hallelujah and praise Marcos,” Espiritu said.
Roque and Gadon were both included in Marcos Jr.’s slate. – With reports from Lian Buan/ Rappler