House OKs bill declaring Marcos holiday in Ilocos Norte

The House of Representatives has passed a bill declaring September 11 a non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte to honor the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos who was born on that day.

On Wednesday, September 2, a total of 197 legislators voted yes to House Bill (HB) No. 7137 setting every September 11 as “President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Day” in Ilocos Norte, the bailiwick of the late strongman and his family. 

Only 9 legislators voted no to bill, while one abstained from the vote. 

The bill was primarily authored by 3 Ilocano lawmakers, including Marcos’ nephew, Ilocos Norte 2nd District Representative Angelo Marcos Barba. Barba is the son of Marcos’ youngest sibling Fortuna Marcos Barba, who died in 2018

Two scions of the Fariñas clan that had locked horns with the Marcos family in the 2019 polls were also primary authors of HB 7137: Ilocos Norte 1st District Representative Ria Fariñas and Probinsyano Ako Representative Rudys Caesar Fariñas I. They're the children of former Ilocos Norte Representative Rodolfo Fariñas, who once exposed alleged irregularities in the province when Senator Imee Marcos was governor.

Marcos was born in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, on September 11, 1917. His 21-year presidency was marred by corruption, killings, torture, disappearances, and media oppression.

September is also the month when he declared Martial Law, considered the darkest years of post-colonial Philippines. (READ: Martial Law, the dark chapter in Philippine history)

Amnesty International also estimated that about 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, and 3,240 killed during Martial Law. 

The Marcoses also plundered the country's coffers, with various estimates pegging the amount between $5 billion to $10 billion. (READ: [ANALYSIS] Just how bad was corruption during the Marcos years?

The family patriarch was ousted during the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. Years later, his clan successfully returned to politics, holding key posts in the so-called Solid North and still enjoying the support of Marcos loyalists nationwide.

The current governor of Ilocos Norte is Matthew Marcos Manotoc, Marcos’ grandson and the youngest son of his daughter, Senator Marcos.

(Editor's note: A previous version of this story referred to Governor Matthew Marcos Manotoc as Senator Imee Marcos' eldest son. This has been corrected.)

No version of HB 7137 has been filed in the Senate. 

If a Senate version is filed and approved on third and final reading, the bill would be transmitted to Malacañang for the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte, who counts the Marcoses as his allies.

It was under Duterte’s term when the Supreme Court allowed the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, which Martial Law victims tried but failed to stop Marcos. The hero's burial for Marcos was among Duterte's campaign promises.

Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, one of the 8 lawmakers who voted against the bill, slammed the measure and said the birth anniversary of the dictator who made thousands suffer should not be celebrated.

"The birthday of one who has arrogated and abused power, defiled human rights, and betrayed the people's trust must not be celebrated by a legislated holiday," Lagman said. –  Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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