Panfilo Lacson

Lacson: With Martial Law past, PH should lead in human rights

Rambo Talabong

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Lacson: With Martial Law past, PH should lead in human rights

CANDIDATE. Senator Panfilo Lacson at the 2nd Comelec presidential debates on April 3, 2022.

Angie de Silva/Rappler

'Obligasyon po natin iyan,' says Senator Panfilo Lacson

MANILA, Philippines – With its experience of having been under Martial Law, the Philippines should lead Southeast Asia and the world in promoting human rights, Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Sunday, April 3.

Obligasyon po natin iyan, hindi lamang sa dahil tayo ay dumaan din sa ganyang panahon, kung hindi [dahil] signatory tayo doon sa United Nations at kabilang tayo sa sumali sa UN Declaration of Human Rights,” said Lacson during the 2nd presidential debate organized by the Commission on Elections.

(That is our obligation, not just because we went through a time like that, but also because we are a signatory to the United Nations, we are a part of the UN Declaration of Human Rights.)

Lacson and other candidates were asked about the action that the Philippines could take in relation to the reported human rights abuses in Myanmar, a Southeast Asian neighbor.

Myanmar has been shrouded in violence and protests after a coup launched by the military unseated the democratically elected government in February 2021.

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Martial Law was a dark time in Philippine history, where around 70,000 were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and over 3,000 were killed, after dictator Ferdinand Marcos declared military rule.

At the time, Lacson was a member of the Military Intelligence Security Group (MISG), a dreaded unit that was behind the torture and disappearance of activists and critics of the late dictator.

Thirty-six years after Marcos was ousted through the EDSA People Power Revolution, his family has returned to power, and his son and namesake Ferdinand Jr. is leading in the presidential polls. Marcos Jr. was absent from Sunday’s debate, as he had been from debates, forums, and interviews organized by legitimate media organizations and the poll body.

Philippine historians have flagged history books for elementary students as lacking discussion on Martial Law.

In a December 2019 survey by Social Weather Stations, 33% of Filipinos said that there were “very many” abuses in the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign while 42% said there were “somewhat many” abuses. Despite this, the so-called war on drugs remained popular, with residents citing that they noticed a drop in crimes and illegal drug trade in their communities. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.