Describing President Rodrigo Duterte as “worse than Marcos,” survivors of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.’s martial law on Saturday urged voters to reject the Dutertes and Marcoses seeking election in May 2022.
In an online press conference dubbed #NoDuterteMarcos2022, victims of human rights abuses belonging to a group called Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA) said another Duterte or Marcos, or both, in the top positions in the government would only worsen poverty, corruption and repression in the country.
Judy Taguiwalo, Duterte’s first Social Welfare secretary and a convenor of CARMMA, said the present administration’s ineptitude has prolonged the struggle of the Filipinos against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), worsened by widespread corruption and the return of cronyism.
“Akala natin … nalagpasan na natin ang bangungot at dilim ng batas militar. Pero nitong nakaraang liman taon, bumalik ang iba’t-ibang anyo sa pamumuno ni President Duterte ang malagim na mga krimen at kasalanan, ang malawak na human rights violations, ang corruption, plunder, ang paghahari ng militar, at ito ngayon, ang panumbalik ng mga cronies,” she added.
(We thought … we’ve been through the nightmare and darkness of martial law. But in the past five years, the crimes and abuses were back in different forms under the leadership of President Duterte, the widespread human rights violations, corruption, plunder, militarism, and the return of the cronies.)
The press conference marked the 49th year since Marcos declared martial law in1972. It also came three days after Duterte accepted the ruling Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) nomination for him to run as vice president with Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go as his presidential running mate.
CARMMA, which initially stood for Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacanang, is a coalition established in February 2016 to thwart bid of the younger Marcos that year to become vice president.
Earlier, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., who lost in the 2016 vice presidential race, floated the possibility of running with Duterte’s daughter and Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, should she decide to do so in next year’s polls.
Two sides of the same coin?
A panel of the martial law survivors drew parallelisms between the tactics of Duterte and the late Marcos, who both seemed to draw their brand of governance from a “playbook of fear.”
“Para sa akin, hindi po sila magkaiba,” said lawyer Lorenzo “Erin” Tañada III, a former congressman. He noted that both Duterte and Marcos appointed several retired military and police generals to Cabinet positions.
(To me, they’re not different.)
“He wants to rule by fear by having these military officials and police generals in power. Not only that, but he even admitted that with military officials and police generals in certain positions, these police generals will not debate with him whatsoever and will just follow orders,” he added.
Taguiwalo cited that the poverty incidence during the Marcos years rose to almost 49%. Under Duterte, self-reported poverty is at 49%. To illustrate the worsening poverty situation, she cited public transportation drivers begging in the streets, millions of workers losing their jobs and small businesses closing shops.
“Sasabihin nila pandemya ‘yun. Hinde. (Dahil) sa palpak na responde ay tumagal ang ating pagkakulong dito sa usapin ng COVID-19. Tulad noon, ang corruption, ang pandarambong ay dagdag na dahilan bakit lalong naghihirap ang mamamayan … Ngayon, nakita natin sa sa gitna ng pandemya may mga yumaman … nakita natin kung paano ang mga kontrata ng gobyerno ay napunta sa malalapit na kaibigan, katulag ng kay Michael Yang at Pharmally. Ganoon din sa panahon ni Marcos,” she added.
(They will say that’s (due to the) pandemic. No. The ineffective response prolonged our quarantine due to Covid-19. Like before, corruption and plunder worsened the sufferings of the people. Now, we’re seeing that in the midst of a pandemic, some people got rich … We’ve seen how government contracts went to close friends, such as Michael Yang and Pharmally. It was just like during the time of Marcos.)
Ibaloi human rights activist Joanna Cariño, who, like Taguiwalo, was illegally detained and tortured during martial law, recalled the violence and abuse she and other activists endured and likened the experience to the terror that looms over Filipinos opposing the Anti-Terror Act of 2020.
Historical records show that male and female political prisoners, baselessly accused as subversives during Marcos’ martial rule, suffered grave physical, mental, and sexual abuse during their imprisonment. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Bongbong Marcos falsely claims martial law horrors fabricated)
“History has already judged the Marcos dictatorship, which was ousted through people power in 1986. We should not allow historical revisionism to distort the reality of martial law and restore the Marcoses to Malacanang,” said Cariño.
“Tyranny breeds resistance. A day of reckoning will come,” said Carino. “We should not allow the daughter, or worse, a daughter-father tandem to continue with Duterte’s reign of terror. No to Duterte-Marcos in 2022,” she declared.
Award-winning filmmaker and director Joel Lamangan, who was imprisoned twice during martial law, noted the two presidents’ attacks on journalists and press freedom.
“Noong panahon ni Marcos, niyurakan niya ang ating Saligang Batas, niyurakan niya ang lahat ng karapatang pantao lalong-lalo na ang karapatan sa pagpapahayag at pamamahayag. Sinara niya ang lahat ng mga istasyon ng telebisyon at radyo. Sinara niya ang lahat ng mga peryodiko. Hinuli ang mga journalists na tumututol sa mga kamaliang ginagawa ng kanyang gobyerno. Ngayon, ganoon din,” said Lamangan of Duterte’s attacks on Philippine press freedom, citing ABS-CBN’s shutdown less than two months into the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: What’s next for ABS-CBN after losing franchise bid?)
(During the Marcos years, he trampled on the Constitution, violated human rights, particularly the freedoms of speech and of the press. He closed down television and radio stations. He shut down newspapers. Journalists who were critical of the abuses of the government were arrested. Now, it’s the same.)
“Walang pagkakaiba ang rehimen noon ni Marcos at ni Duterte sa ngayon. Meron lang pagkahipokrito itong si Duterte. Bakit? Dahil at least si Marcos noon dineklara niya ang martial law. Siya (Duterte) hindi niya dinideklara pero mas masahol pa siya sa martial law,” the outspoken movie and TV director added.
(There is no difference between the Marcos and the Duterte regimes. However, Duterte is somewhat a hypocrite. Why? Because, at least, Marcos declared martial law during his time. Today (Duterte) did not declare martial law but his leadership is worse than that.)
“If Marcos is bad, Duterte is not only worse but worst. I mean to say superlative,” said Sister Mary John Mananzan about Duterte’s public tirades against Catholic church leaders and members, and his misogynistic verbal attacks toward women. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: In his own words: Respecting women, Duterte-style)
In the past five years, Philippine church groups have received death threats, and recorded 16 cases in which church members, priests, and other leaders were killed.
Day of reckoning
With this, CARMMA stressed the need for young voters to be vigilant against disinformation peddlers and to elect candidates who have clean track records and are competent in managing the problems brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mananzan, a co-founder of GABRIELA party list, emphasized the qualities to look for in a candidate that can lead the country’s recovery from the pandemic.
“First of all, it should be anyone rather than the Duterte camp. Anyone na…unang-una dapat, ‘yung talagang person of integrity, ‘yung talagang may pagkatao. Hindi siya sinungaling, hindi siya manlilinlang… Itong tao na ito should really have [a] sincere desire to do good for the common good,” said Mananzan. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK YEARENDER: The Duterte administration’s share of COVID misinformation)
(Foremost is a person of integrity, someone with character, He is not a liar, not one who deceives.)
Youth leader Chesca Persia said: “We’re looking for a leader (who) will lead us into recovery come [sic] 2022 elections. Someone who knows the problem sa laylayan, someone who knows kung ano ang kailangan ng mga ordinaryong Pilipino – trabaho. Kailangan nila ng source of income para mapakain nila yung kanilang pamilya. Kailangan nila ng leader na totoo, transparent and honest.”
(We’re looking for a leader who will lead us to recovery come 2022 elections. Someone who knows the problems at the grassroots, someone who knows what ordinary Filipinos need — jobs. They need a source of income to feed their families. They need a leader who is genuine, transparent and honest.)
Taguiwalo said CARMMA will not endorse any candidate or party list for next year’s elections, but “at the minimum,” it will convene and agree on a set of criteria or qualities of candidates deserving to be elected as genuine public servants.
Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines, Political detainees in the Philippines: Documentation report of Signs of the times, March 31, 1976