MANILA, Philippines – “Not in this lifetime, never again.”
This was the declaration on Wednesday, September 21, of Vice President Leni Robredo on the 44th anniversary of the signing of Presidential Decree 1081, the basis of the declaration of Martial Law.
Robredo, who beat Marcos’ only son Ferdinand Marcos Jr in the last elections, urged the public to remain watchful against the return of a dictatorship “or any of its elements.”
“We call upon those of us who serve in the government to continue to be instruments of truth and justice and to maintain an unwavering commitment to the rule of law. Let us be safeguards of freedoms of life, liberty, speech, and due process.”
Critics of the current administration fear that Martial Law may again be resurrected, given President Rodrigo Duterte’s firm stance against criminality. Over 3,000 drug-related deaths have already been recorded since he waged his war against drugs.
Duterte on Tuesday, September 20, said he is eyeing the revival of the Philippine Constabulary (PC) to curb “urban terrorism.”
The PC was a former service command of the military that was at the forefront of the implementation of martial rule. It was abolished in 1999 through a law that created the Philippine National Police that is “civilian in nature.” (READ: LOOK BACK: The Philippine Constabulary under Marcos)
Remember the victims
The Vice President, who joined protests that led to the EDSA People Power Revolution, also sought to remember the human rights victims of the iron fist rule. Robredo is a member of the Liberal Party, which has several members who were Martial Law victims. (WATCH: Rappler’s Martial Law playlist)
“We urge everyone to remember the 70,000 who were imprisoned, the 34,000 who were tortured, the 3,240 who were killed, and the 390 who disappeared during one of the darkest periods of our history,” she said. (READ: Worse than death: Torture methods during martial law)
“They were fathers and mothers. They were brothers and sisters. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that their stories are neither forgotten nor twisted for political purposes and ambitions,” she added.
Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparations Act seeks the recognition of the sacrifices of victims under Martial Law through monetary reparation and the establishment of museums. The measure was passed under the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III – son of two democracy icons who fought the Marcos regime.
To date, victims have yet to receive reparation since the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HCRVB) is still verifying the claims of 75,000 claimants. The Commission on Human Rights and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines are still working on the establishment of the museum for the victims of Martial Law. – Rappler.com