A Philippine Human Rights NGO providing Psychosocial Services and Rehabilitation to Internally Displaced Persons and Survivors of Torture and Organized Violence.

Anti-Torture Coalition denounces Marcos burial like a “thief in the night”

A network of civil society organizations which advocate for the eradication of torture and ill treatment in the Philippines has likened the  sudden manner of the burial of the late deposed  dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LnmB) today as a “thief in the night.”

The United against Torture Coalition (UATC) said that the swiftness of the Marcos’s internment tend to belie the claim of the dictator’s family and their supporters that there is a popular support for the decision to bury him in the LnmB.

“Once again, the public was caught by surprise just like the time when the entire country was placed by Marcos under martial law. That kind of  stealth is characteristic of a thief who strikes in the dead of night when the victims are unaware,” the UATC spokesperson, Kaloy Anasarias, said.

Citing records from the Amnesty International, the coalition said more than 74, 000 people have been put to jail and 34,000 people have been tortured for resisting martial law.  The UATC is behind the successful civil society lobby for the enactment of the Anti Torture Act in 2009 and the accession of the Philippines to the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) in 2012.

The UATC lamented the  decision of President Duterte to allow  Marcos’s remains to be placed in the LnmB saying that the former Davao City mayor has succumb to selective memory.

“We applauded Pres. Duterte for his courage to remember the more than 600 Tausugs    massacred by the American occupation forces in Bud Dajo in Jolo in 1906; but we wondered why  he had  not made any mention of the burning of Jolo in 1974 and the deaths of     1,500 Moro residents of a village in Palimbang town in Sultan Kudarat province who were killed in a massacre during  martial law,” the UATC said.

“How could Pres. Duterte  remember the American atrocities and not acknowledge the victim of the Manili and Pata massacres, to cite a few. Wasn’t he the mayor in Davao City when the people were rising up in Welgang Bayan to denounce the Marcos dictatorship,” the UATC asked.

“President Duterte has asked to  let future generation decide whether the Philippine situation  was darkest under the Marcos regime. Well, that generation is now, especially the thousands of survivors of torture and massacres throughout the country. It pains us to see that the President has chosen to honor his political debts to the Marcoses rather than pay tribute to the memories of those whose lives and freedom were lost at the time of the dictatorship.”

Everyone wants healing. The nation has to move on. But this will only happen if there is an acknowledgement of the wrongdoing done by the Marcos regime. The pain and suffering may be alleviated if genuine remorse is demonstrated by those who were responsible for the atrocities during the martial law – if the victims are sufficiently indemnified and that dark period in Philippine history is memorialized so that the people will not let it happen again.  But President Duterte seems to be not facilitating that healing process and instead stoking the wounds of the past to haunt the generations to come.