Groups blast Palace order making Marcos Sr. birthday a holiday in Ilocos Norte | Inquirer News
‘no reason to celebrate’

Groups blast Palace order making Marcos Sr. birthday a holiday in Ilocos Norte

MANILA, Philippines — Even if it’s just in Ilocos Norte, martial law survivors and a group archiving martial law materials on Friday decried President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s proclamation declaring the 105th birth anniversary of his father and namesake as a holiday in the northern Luzon province.


Bonifacio Ilagan, a martial law survivor and convener of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law, said this move by the President only showed his intention on “whitewashing and covering up the hellish memory that (Ferdinand) Marcos Sr. and his ilk wrought on the nation.”

The Office of the President released the proclamation on Thursday, informing Ilocos Norte Gov. Matthew Joseph Manotoc, the son of Sen. Imee Marcos and one of the late dictator’s grandchildren, of the nonworking holiday in the province.


Marcos Sr.’s birthdate this year falls on a Sunday, prompting the provincial board to request that the following day, Sept. 12, be declared holiday instead.

“It is but fitting and proper that the people of the province of Ilocos Norte be given full opportunity to celebrate and participate in the occasion with appropriate ceremonies, subject to the public health measures of the national government,” the proclamation read.

Blight on PH history

“How can we forget the fact that while we Filipinos were living in hunger and poverty, Marcos and his family plundered the nation’s coffers, bought numerous properties in New York and stashed their ill-gotten wealth in Swiss Banks?” Ilagan said.

Ilagan stressed that Proclamation No. 35, which declared Sept. 12 as a special nonworking holiday in Ilocos Norte, also showed Mr. Marcos’ “imprudence and lack of respect” to the country’s history, wherein for more than 20 years, his father ruled by decree.

“This blight on our history is on Marcos Jr. and we will be remiss not to call him out on this. He should not use the current position he holds for his family’s personal gain,” Ilagan pointed out.

For Project Gunita, a group of archivists collecting materials during the martial rule of the late dictator, the birthday of Marcos Sr. should not be celebrated anywhere in the country, “not even in Ilocos Norte.”

Karl Patrick Suyat, Project Gunita’s cofounder, said there was “absolutely no reason to celebrate the shameful life and downfall” of the late dictator, describing him as a “ruthless leader.”


“He plundered our country so terribly that our economy fell into the gutters when he was ousted,” Suyat said in a separate statement. “He was a repressive dictator and a remorseless leader.”

Suyat said Malacañang should instead pay tribute to the martyrs during the martial law years, although it would be impossible considering that the current President is the son of Marcos Sr.; or the country could pay homage to the “real Ilocano hero,” Purificacion Pedro, one of the many thousands killed under the Marcos dictatorship.

Huge disrespect

Francis Gealogo, history professor at the Ateneo de Manila University and lead convener of Tanggol Kasaysayan, said the President’s proclamation was a “huge disrespect” to the memories of all the victims of the dictatorship of his father.

He called the move making Marcos Sr.’s birth anniversary a holiday “a work of historical distortion and negative historical revisionism.”

“All those killed, detained, raped and disappeared during his dictatorship are effectively being erased in our history by this policy of the President and his family who are seated in different political posts,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

Marcos Sr.’s 105th birth anniversary comes days before the 50th anniversary of his declaration of martial law under Proclamation No. 1081 on Sept. 21, 1972.According to Amnesty International, more than 107,000 were primary victims during the martial law period. Of these, 3,240 were killed by the military and police at Marcos Sr.’s behest.

More than 70,000 were arrested arbitrarily without warrants of arrest, while 34,000 were tortured.

By the end of the Marcos rule in 1986, an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion of ill-gotten wealth were believed to be plundered by the family during their two decades in Malacañang.

In a July 2003 ruling of the Supreme Court, $683 million worth of Marcos assets in various Swiss banks were declared as ill-gotten.

“The Marcos family is trying its best to whitewash their atrocities to the Filipino people during the martial law period, one of the darkest periods of the country’s history,” added Gealogo, who previously served as commissioner of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCIP).

He, along with then-chair Maria Serena Diokno, resigned from the NHCIP in November 2016 in protest of the hero’s burial given to Marcos Sr.


Ilocos Norte to mark late President Marcos’ birthday

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