In Panay, martial law victims vow to hound Bongbong Marcos
ILOILO CITY—Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who is running for Vice President, should not be surprised if he sees a group of elderly holding protest actions whenever he is on Panay Island.
They are survivors of abuses committed during martial law in Capiz, Antique, Iloilo and Aklan, who are now in their 60s and 70s and have vowed to hound the campaign sorties of the only son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos with protests.
“His candidacy has revived bitter memories of martial law. We are afraid of and we will fight against his family’s return to Malacañang,” said retired University of the Philippines Visayas (UPV) professor Rose Asong.
Asong, 70, is among 20 former political detainees who led the launching in Panay of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (Carmma) at the UPV campus here on Thursday.
The launching was joined by representatives from church groups, women’s organizations and youth leaders.
Asong said martial law survivors would hold pickets and rallies in venues that Marcos would use for his campaign.
Asong was a teacher when she was arrested on Sept. 22, 1973, and detained for 16 months in police and military camps first in Iloilo and later in Cebu.
Fortunato Pelaez was arrested in 1974 as a member of the activist youth group Kabataang Makabayan.
He was detained for one year and three months in Camp Crame in Quezon City and in Camp Delgado in Iloilo City, the regional police headquarters, where he suffered torture, including electrocution of his genitals.
“The painful memories remain because the Marcos family, including Bongbong, has not atoned for their sins,” said Pelaez, secretary general of Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda) in Panay.
Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chair of Selda and of the human rights group Karapatan, said the Iloilo launching was the third after those held in Manila and General Santos City.
She said more martial law survivors would be organizing Carmma in other provinces.
“We are all worried that if Bongbong is elected, that will the start of the return to our dark past,” she told reporters on the sidelines of the launching.
She said the senator’s candidacy for the second highest position in the country should be opposed and condemned not only by former political detainees.
“(The Marcos family) has not returned their ill-gotten wealth,” she said.
In Tacloban City earlier, the chair of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said those who have been deluded into believing that martial law is a glorious past for the country should not look far for evidence that one-man rule by Marcos was a horror.
Chito Gascon, CHR chair, said the validation of at least 75,000 claims for compensation for abuses during martial law is enough evidence of the horrors of martial law.
Gascon said Marcos Jr. should look at these claims. “These are evidence of abuses,” he said.
One of the claimants in Eastern Visayas is Jose Cala, a native of Leyte who was arrested at the provincial jail in Cebu for joining anti-Marcos rallies in the 1980s.
He spent a year at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center, or from May 1980 until days before the visit of Pope John Paul II to the country in 1981.
“Putting a Marcos to the second highest position of the land is a great insult to the victims of the dark era of martial law,” said Cala, who is now 54.
“It will be a great injustice to those who died, tortured and incarcerated for fighting the Marcos dictatorship,” said Cala.
Marcos Jr. has repeatedly said he sees no need to apologize for his father’s regime since some of the country’s golden days came under the late strongman.
The senator’s spokesperson also called on detractors of the Marcos family to move on from the past and stop blaming the strongman’s son for the ills that befell the country.
According to the CHR, 4,040 martial law victims were documented in Eastern Visayas.
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