FACT CHECK: Lies about EDSA revolution, Martial Law
MANILA, Philippines – February 25 marks the anniversary of the historic EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986, the “bloodless” series of protests that overthrew the 20-year regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
While people still commemorate the event every February 25, the spread of disinformation about the popular demonstration, or even Martial Law, chooses no specific time or date. Since 2018, Rappler has debunked a number of false claims shared all-year-round about the EDSA revolution and Marcos’ imposition of the oppressive military government.
The number of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) supposedly increased because job regularization was removed after the EDSA People Power Revolution. This claim was part of a YouTube video that enumerated the negative impact of People Power.
However, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority show that the number of OFWs rose even before 1986, and that contracting and subcontracting existed.
In the first part of “JPE: A Witness to History,” a two-part video interview of former Senate president and defense minister Juan Ponce Enrile that can be seen on Bongbong's social media accounts, Enrile said he once “challenged” a journalist to “name me one that we executed other than Lim Seng.” He also claimed that no one was arrested for criticizing Marcos.
"Executed" as used by Enrile seemed to refer only to a government-sanctioned criminal execution that involves capital punishment for a crime committed. In reality, there were more people killed. Amnesty International's report said 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and at least 3,240 were victims of extrajudicial killings under Martial Law. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know)
3. Claim: “No massacres” during Martial Law
In the same video interview, Enrile made another claim that "no massacres" took place during Martial Law.
But there were at least two massacres reported between 1972 and 1981: the Palimbang massacre or the Malisbong massacre in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat; and a massacre that took place in Bingcul village in Mindanao on November 12, 1977. Both happened in Mindanao, and both were committed against Muslim communities.
This claim circulated in the comments section of a Rappler post about the 46th anniversary of Martial Law in 2018. The copied-and-pasted comments suggest that the idea that the Martial Law period was a “dark” part of the country's history was “twisted” and invented.
This was debunked by historical records and personal testimonies that show that personal freedoms and media access were restricted when Marcos imposed Martial Law nationwide starting in September 1972.
Another false post that dignified Martial Law said that nobody was poor during Martial Law and the "real poverty" happened during the terms of the two Aquinos.
This was false, because government data show poverty incidence was already high during the Marcos regime, and it went on a downward trend after the late dictator was ousted.
A common trend among the falsehoods spread about Martial Law was the supposed economic development of the country during the Marcos administration. One of the most popular claims was that the Philippines was the “richest country in Asia” during this period.
In reality, the Philippines never became the “richest country in Asia” during the time of Marcos. Data on each Asian country’s gross domestic product and GDP per capita, two universal indicators of a nation’s prosperity, show that the country was never the richest even in Southeast Asia back then.
Another false belief about the Philippine economy during the Marcos administration was the claim that the peso-dollar exchange rate at that time was at P1.50 to P2 per dollar, a sign of a better economy compared to today.
This was easily debunked by official data, which show the peso-dollar exchange rate was already at P3 in 1965. It even further depreciated throughout Marcos’ term.