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‘A huge disrespect’ to martial law survivors

Aquino statue blocked as Marcos Jr. campaigns in Tarlac

The monument of the late senator Ninoy Aquino at the Tarlac City Plaza has been partly covered by a tent as the Marcos-Duterte tandem holds their rally on Saturday morning. PHOTO BY NESTOR A. CORRALES

The monument of the late senator Ninoy Aquino at the Tarlac City Plaza has been partly covered by a tent as the Marcos-Duterte tandem holds their rally on Saturday morning. (Photo by NESTOR A. CORRALES / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

A “huge disrespect” to martial law survivors and the late Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.

That was how Bonifacio Ilagan, a survivor of the martial law regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, described the way a monument in Aquino’s honor was concealed, as the dictator’s son and namesake, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., went stumping in the provincial capital of Tarlac City on Saturday.

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Accompanied by his running mate, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, Marcos also held a rally at Tarlac City Plazuela where Aquino’s statue stood, this time partly hidden from view by a makeshift tent.

Tarlac is the home province of the late senator and leading rival of the older Marcos.

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Aquino was gunned down in 1983 upon his return home from exile in the United States, and his assassination triggered a series of protests that led to the People Power Revolution, which toppled the Marcos dictatorship three years later.

But more than three decades after that uprising, the Marcoses have enjoyed a political comeback, with Marcos Jr. so far leading the surveys on the presidential race.

The tent that was set up hid the Aquino statue from head to waist, while a tarp with printed images of Marcos Jr. and Duterte was displayed below that monument.

A bigger tarp showing the tandem draped the facade of city hall across the plaza where a crowd had gathered to see Marcos Jr., Duterte and their senatorial candidates.

‘Time to move on’

Addressing the crowd, Tarlac City Mayor Cristy Angeles said a Marcos setting foot in Tarlac City was “history in the making.”

“The past is already over. It’s time to move on. We will move forward and forget what happened in the past because we need to unite for a better future,” she added.

Ilagan, convenor of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (Carmma), said the very circumstances of that campaign rally were “a disdain to the memories of those who opposed Marcos and to all shades of opposition who are anti-Marcos.”

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“They are disrespecting the survivors of martial law and this is like bulldozing those memories,” he said in an interview with the Inquirer.

Ilagan also criticized Angeles for her remarks.

Asked about Aquino’s statue being blocked from view, Angeles did not directly answer the question but instead said “Let’s ignore those who criticize. It’s time for forgiveness and healing. Let’s all unite.”

The Marcos camp was also sought for comment but had yet to reply as of this writing.

Historian Xiao Chua said, when reached for comment, that “it is lamentable that a monument, part of the city’s tangible heritage, was desecrated in such a way, that it was [in honor of] Ninoy Aquino, … the person who was imprisoned and murdered, standing up against the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship, that he was also incidentally a Tarlaqueño, … and that it was a plaza named after his honor.

—WITH A REPORT FROM MADELLE CALAYAG

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