Lagman on martial law: No forgiveness without remorse from implementers
MANILA, Philippines — People affected directly and indirectly by the martial law regime of late president Ferdinand Marcos Sr. cannot start forgiving if implementers and beneficiaries of that era do not show remorse, Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman said on Thursday.
Lagman during his turn to interpellate Marikina 2nd District Rep. Stella Quimbo, who was sponsoring the proposed 2024 budget of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), asked if the agency had any statement on the 51st anniversary of Marcos Sr.’s martial law declaration.
When Quimbo said there was none, Lagman said it might appear that Marcos Sr.’s son and namesake, incumbent President Ferdinand Marcos Jr, does not want to acknowledge the “very huge” elephant in the room.
“The ominous silence from the Office of the President on the 51st anniversary of his father’s declaration of martial law is both deafening and revealing. It would appear that President Marcos Jr. refuses to acknowledge the very huge elephant in the room — the repression, oppression, and profligacy during the martial law regime. Would you comment on that?” Lagman said.
“Madam Speaker, the PCO’s mandate is to communicate pronouncements from Malacañang, on its own it cannot make a statement unless made by Malacañang, Madam Speaker,” Quimbo replied.
After this, Lagman then asked the PCO if there was any directive from Marcos Jr. to publish any statement on the martial law declaration anniversary — to which Quimbo also responded in the negative.
“So there was no directive from Malacañang for the PCO to prepare and publish a statement on the 51st anniversary of the declaration of martial law,” Lagman said.
“There can be no forgiveness without remorse and repentance from the surviving martial law implementers, perpetrators, and beneficiaries. Would you agree with that statement?” he asked.
This time, Quimbo answered yes.
This is not the first instance that Lagman brought martial law-related issues to the discussions on the budget proposals of different agencies.
On Wednesday, he questioned both the Commission on Human Rights and the National Historical Commission of the Philippines as to why the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Museum, Library and Compendium — which is mandated by Republic Act No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 — remains unfunded.
Lagman, whose family has been well-involved during the fight against the Marcos Sr. regime during the 1970s and 1980s, said that it is ironic that the museum is unfunded when the martial law era was marked with the excessive use of money.
“While there was surfeit of funds, including the proceeds from behest loans, for the prosecution of the martial law regime’s repressive and plunderous programs and policies, there is now no appropriation in the 2024 budget as proposed in the NEP for the construction and completion of the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Museum, Library and Compendium,” Lagman said in a statement.
“This memorial museum will constantly remind Filipinos of the atrocities of the Marcos Sr. martial law regime and the heroism of its victims and survivors. Its objective is also to remind Filipinos that they should not allow national amnesia to thrive lest we forget the oppression and avarice during the darkest era in Philippine history,” he added.
Marcos Sr. declared martial law over the country on September 21, 1972 to supposedly quell lawlessness in the country. However, opposition figures disputed this, saying that the late former president just wanted to stay in power.
The Marcos patriarch was then accused of using his power to amass ill-gotten wealth and persecute political enemies. However, Marcos Jr. in an interview maintained that it is wrong to paint his father as a dictator, as he himself saw how a lot of people were consulted before Marcos Sr. made decisions.
The younger Marcos also believes martial law was necessary since the government was fighting a war on two fronts — one in the communist insurgency, and the Muslim separatist movement in Mindanao.
However, he admitted that there were some abuses that occurred, just like in any other war.