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

Balay Statement: We refuse to forget martial law

We have seen it before. We refuse to forget and will continue to resist today.

Balay was born in 1985 under martial law to provide a safe space for the victims of massive human rights violations. It witnessed how the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his regime used their power to torture, disappear and silence staunch critics of his administration. Marcos and his cronies masked the grave human rights violations and rampant corruption with flamboyance and grand edifices. Indeed, the Marcoses left the nation kneeling in debt and the Filipino people poorer than they ever were.

The victims of human rights violations are yet to receive an apology from the Marcoses. The family that survived the late dictator claims that there was no corruption or human rights violation under their father’s rule. They insist that these are mere political propaganda made by the opposition. But we assert that, along with other human rights and civil society organizations supported by fact-finding reports, the documents and numbers don’t lie. Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) alone has recorded 5,531 cases of torture, 2,537 salvage victims and 783 disappeared under Marcos regime.

Today, forty seven years has passed and under the current administration, the Marcoses are back in top government position. We also recall that months after Duterte assumed office in 2016, the late dictator was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LnmB). In 2018, Imelda Marcos was found guilty of graft and corruption but was never arrested and is still in public office while the poor Filipinos are blatantly killed every day - bodies left in the curb.

It is horrifying that the drug war of the president has already resulted to thousands of deaths. The death toll of alleged extra judicial killings is massive enough that no one could ever keep track of the exact numbers. Many families particularly in urban poor communities have lost members of their families; children lost their parents and parents lost their child. Minors have been killed in police operations as collateral damage of the drug war. Priests, lawyers, journalists and activists were killed in different parts of the country and the numbers are continuously growing. But as the newbie senator and drug war enforcer once said “Shit happens.”

The attacks of this government against human rights defenders, the misogynist remarks towards women, and the threat to usurp academic freedom in universities and colleges is very disturbing. This is reminiscent of martial law under Marcos. But even more disturbing is the deafening silence of the majority of the Filipino people.

Should we just accept that our people – the poor - are being killed? That while plunderers and rapists are given a second chance, the blood of the poor are splattered in the streets? How can we comfortably sit in our chairs while many are mourning for the unjust death of their loved ones? How can we stomach and rationalize statements such as “Shit happens?”

Balay is in solidarity with human rights advocates and other organizations that are upholding the rights of every citizen regardless of social class. This is the time for us to unite. Together,we must resist tyranny. More importantly, we are knocking onto the hearts of our fellow kababayans to speak up and resist authoritarianism. This is not acceptable. This is the time to speak. This is the time to resist.

We have seen this before. Just as we have never forgotten the atrocities of the Marcoses, we shall never be silenced by any threats against our right to live with dignity.