WE CONDEMN in the highest manner the Department of Education’s (DepEd) latest move to distort history by downplaying the image of Ferdinand E. Marcos as a dictator.
In a memo dated Sept. 6, 2023, DepEd is set to change “Diktadurang Marcos” to “Diktadura” in the Grade 6 Araling Panlipunan curriculum of the newly launched Matatag curriculum. “Diktadurang Marcos,” as a term/phraseology used in the curriculum, explicitly denotes that this period in contemporary Philippine history was an authoritarian rule by Marcos. This revision by the DepEd is a clear strategy of the current administration to rehabilitate the dark history of the Marcos family. It is also a blatant example of disinformation, where the people are deliberately misled by manipulating historical facts.
Aside from the political motives behind this move, there is no empirical data to support the DepEd’s decision. In fact, a plethora of historical evidence justifies the categorization of 1972 to 1986 as the period of Marcos dictatorship. What followed Marcos’ declaration of Martial Law on Sept. 21, 1972 were massive state-sponsored human rights violations. The reports produced by the Amnesty International missions to the Philippines in 1975 and 1981 have documented cases of torture in various military camps. Throughout the Marcos dictatorship, a total of 3,257 victims of extrajudicial killings, 35,000 documented cases of torture, and 70,000 individuals incarcerated were recorded.
Furthermore, Letter of Instruction no. 1 signed by Marcos a day after his Martial Law declaration ordered the closure of private media outlets. All executive orders and letters of instruction came from his office in Malacañang because Congress was dissolved. The individuals who stood against the regime — politicians, journalists, activists, and others — were imprisoned, tortured, or killed.
In the more than two decades of the Marcos regime, his family and cronies amassed wealth taken from public coffers. As of 2021, the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) has already retrieved P172.2 billion out of an estimated $10 billion of ill-gotten wealth. The cronyism which institutionalized kleptocracy in government added to the worsening economic problems of the time. Expert studies discuss that crony capitalism and the mismanaged economy affected the annual gross domestic product negatively: -7 percent in 1984 and -6.9 percent in 1985. From 1977 to 1982, the recorded external debt was from $8.2 billion to $24.4 billion. Yet, the well-oiled propaganda machine of the Marcos family continuously peddles the lie of the “Marcos golden age.”
We call on our fellow educators to reject this atrocious move by the DepEd and seek transparency in important matters such as curricular revisions. We also demand accountability from Vice President Sara Duterte who, on top of her relentless red-tagging spree, has been an instrument of the Marcoses in state-sponsored historical distortions.