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INSIGHT AVENUE

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In the midst of fake news that seemingly seek to revise history as we know it, I am dedicating this column to look at what FACTUALLY happened during and after Martial Law. It is truly timely to talk about it since the anniversary of its declaration was on the 21st of September.

  • At the end of Martial Law, our debt was Php 395.51B. This means that the Philippine Government has to pay for it until 2025. Yes, people. We have been paying for Marcos-era debts decades after Marcos and his cronies were kicked out of Malacanang and will continue doing so in the next 8 years.
  • Marcos stole about $10B from the country’s coffers. This earned him the title “The Greatest Thief in Asia” according to the Guinness Book of World Records. In the 2004 Transparency International Global Corruption Report, Marcos was listed second to Suharto of Indonesia as the most corrupt leader.
  • 75, 730. That is the number of human rights violations during Martial Law that were brought to the Human Rights Victims Claims Board. Countless people remain missing to this very day.
  • Some elements of the Philippine Constabulary was known to kidnap, torture, and, in some instances, kill those who opposed Martial Law.
  • Among the myths that are currently floating around social media is that the Philippines enjoyed a golden age during Martial Law. We were disciplined! So many structures were built! The question is: AT WHAT COST? People could not voice opposition. About 70 000 were imprisoned, 34 000 tortured. Prisoners were electrocuted, beaten up, strangled, raped, burned with a flat iron or cigars, and waterboarded. And about that infrastructure spending? It was one convenient way to get even more money. It plunged the country in billions of dollars in debt, most of them siphoned away to the hidden accounts of the Marcoses and their cronies.

So the next time a person says Marcos’ Martial Law was good for the country, remember these facts. And past is prologue, ladies and gentlemen. Democracy sure ain’t a perfect system but let us not wait for our freedoms to be taken away from us before we realize their importance.

In last week’s column, I voiced out my extreme concern about the Php1k budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) alongside the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP). In a stunning turnaround, the House Appropriations Committee released a statement last September 20 RESTORING THE BUDGET of these three offices. Wait, what? Why did it have to reach such polarizing heights before our solons came to their senses? All that embarrassing rhetoric about slashing CHR because of Gascon’s supposed inutility suddenly becomes water under the bridge? Don’t get me wrong. The budget restoration is GREAT NEWS but moving forward, can they (our representatives), at the very least, look before they leap?

The horrors of extra-judicial killings seem to be such a distant issue until it happens to someone you know. Last week, a friend’s brother was shot dead in Leyte. He was only 27. “Drogista,” some quickly dismiss his passing. Apart from the fact that he WASN’T, here are more nagging questions: Who deserves such kind of death? Have we reached a point where human dignity no longer matters? That we reduce people to certain labels without the benefit of evidence? Since when did we become this dismissive, this desensitized to violence? Our condolences to the Yap family. May you find strength and solace in such tragic times.

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