SOME lawmakers at the House of Representatives slammed former senator Juan Ponce Enrile for claiming that no one was arrested for their political beliefs during the term of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
Enrile, in a tete-a-tete with Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on the eve of the 46th anniversary of martial law, said there is no truth to reports that some 70,000 people were arrested during the martial law.
"Name me one person that was arrested because of political or religious belief during that period. None. Name me one person that was arrested simply because he criticized President Marcos. None," he said.
But Gabriela Representative Emmi de Jesus said she herself was arrested and detained in 1977.
“To say that no one was arrested for his or her political beliefs and for criticizing the late dictator Marcos is an outrageous lie. I myself was arrested in 1977 for merely putting Labor Day stickers on a jeepney. I was detained in a detention center in Bicutan and was subjected to extreme psychological torture,” said De Jesus.
She added that the Marcos-Enrile tete-a-tete “bastardizes” the memory of those who fought against the Marcos dictatorship. She challenged Enrile to a debate to prove her stance.
“This is purely aimed at aiding the full political rehabilitation of the Marcoses. But martial law survivors like me will contest these lies head-on. Pwede kaming magdebate tungkol dito para malantad ang pambabaluktot ng kasaysayan na ito,” she said.
Former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares also said in a statement that thousands were arrested and tortured for standing up against Marcos.
“I know that Enrile is lying through his teeth because I was an 18-year-old student then pushing for the establishment of a student council and paper when I was arrested and tortured,” said Colmenares.
"Enrile and Marcos should stop rewriting history to suit their political ambitions. The law for compensating the victims of human rights abuses during Ferdinand Marcos' rule is proof that the Philippine government itself recognizes that there was massive human rights atrocities during his time," he added.
During the tete-a-tete, Enrile also said that millennials are misinformed about martial law, saying the country was peaceful during its first years and that the military only executed Chinese drug lord Lim Seng.
"They claimed that we killed a lot of people. When I was interviewed by someone sometime ago, I challenged her, name me one that we executed, we killed except Lim Seng," Enrile said.
But Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate said the two are trying to deodorize martial law and drown out the growing awareness of the millennials on the human rights violations committed during the martial law.
"Enrile and Marcos are trying to deodorize martial rule and project it as a panacea for peace and prosperity. They are trying to drown out the growing awareness of the youth of today, the millennials who are now learning what really happened during Martial law," said Zarate.
“We must not allow this historical revisionism to gain any traction; we must continue to educate everybody on the horrors of martial rule and that they are still happening today. We do not only owe this to those who died and offered their lives fighting the dictatorship, we also owe it to our children and our country,” said Colmenares.
Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin said the claims of Enrile, a “Marcos traitor,” was “revolting.”
“Enrile’s claims are made not for the sake of the truth but part of a grand effort by the Marcoses to revise history. Enrile can’t even use his old age as an excuse for this blatant attempt to lie to Filipinos. It is revolting and insanely disgusting coming from a ‘Marcos traitor’ who was saved by Filipinos from Marcos’ wrath during the Edsa 1 revolution,” said Villarin.
Enrile played a big role in the uprising that toppled the Marcos regime.
Villarin said the historical facts show that Enrile is the “main architect” of martial law.
The Marcos Human Rights Victims Compensation Board has awarded at least 10,000 claimants from some 70,000 potential victim claimants, including families of victims in the 1974 Malisbong massacre in Sultan Kudarat where 1,500 Moro civilians were killed, said Villarin. (SunStar Philippines)