‘Edsa truth now catching up with lies’
What’s “the worst” that could happen to one’s country?
It’s when truth has been so eroded that 30 years after the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution that ended Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship, it’s now the truth that’s catching up with the lies, according to Neri Colmenares, the Bayan Muna party-list representative who is a candidate for senator in May.
Colmenares, a victim of torture and abuse during the dictatorship when he was just an
18-year-old student, blames the lack of proper education and transmission for the rampant revisionism that is now happening, particularly on social media, about the 20-year repressive rule of Marcos.
In a roundtable with Inquirer editors and reporters on Thursday night, Colmenares said the Department of Education (DepEd) had failed to provide the younger generation with a strong-enough foundation to fully understand what happened during martial law and the atrocities that went with it.
“If only the foundation had been instilled for 30 years, then it would be very difficult for social media to change it as what as happened in the last two or three years. But revisionism succeeded because there was a vacuum,” he said.
“This is a situation where truth has to catch up with lies. Had we been able to establish truth, then it would have been very difficult to perpetuate lies. But the reverse happened; it’s now truth that’s catching up with the lies. That’s one of the worst things that can happen to a country,” he said.
According to Colmenares, such a foundation was lacking so that when the age of social media arrived, the lie was successfully perpetrated that the martial law era was the golden age of the nation.
“It’s a combination of two things. The first 30 years or so was a complete lack of transmission of the events. That’s why I am a little bit angry with Brother Armin [Luistro, the education secretary],” he said.
Colmenares said he went to see Luistro in 2010 or 2011, and suggested that the years under martial law be written into the textbooks.
“[Luistro] said: ‘I will look into that.’ Apparently, he never did,” he said as a check with the textbooks shows that only one page is dedicated to the country’s darkest years.
Historian Michael Charleston “Xiao” Chua earlier said that the school textbooks barely touch on the Marcos dictatorship’s abuses. There is also no context for the Edsa People Power Revolution, he said.
Martial law deodorized
“I’m really frustrated, not just disappointed. Martial law has become deodorized when in fact it was one of the worst chapters in Philippine history. It was one of the bloodiest, if not the darkest years, when the economic promise never happened but the violation of human rights was so … I have no words for it … people died,” Colmenares said.
According to Colmenares, the social media campaign to deodorize the abuses of the Marcos dictatorship started three to four years ago.
He described the campaign as conducted “under the radar” or “innocuous.”
“They will say the traffic is heavy now unlike during the martial law years. But, of course, there were few vehicles then. In fact, the number of vehicles didn’t increase much even after Cory [Aquino took over],” he said.
Colmenares said the fight to instill in the minds of young people the abuses of the Marcos years should go beyond elections. If the people need to learn little by little, then so be it, as long as they get educated about it, he said.
“This is not an election [issue], it goes beyond three months [the remaining life of the Aquino administration]. We have to make sure the new President and new DepEd secretary will do what should be done,” he said.
“Within the next three months, I guess we just have to press on,” he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.