(UPDATED – 9 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — Former President Benigno Aquino III said the thousands of people who joined the Sept. 21 protest rallies to mark the 45th anniversary of the Marcos regime’s martial law was also a proof of the Filipinos’ sentiments against signs of another iron-fisted rule under the Duterte administration.
“Nakita mo naman kung gaano karami ang mga taong nandito, mas marami kaysa nasa simbahan. Meron pang pagtitipon ang ibang grupo. Siguro ‘yon ‘yong ebidensya…talagang may sentimyento ang taumbayan. Siguro nakikita nilang parang may mga kaganapan ng mga panahon ng martial law,” Aquino said on Thursday during an interview with reporters at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) in Diliman, Quezon City.
[You can see how many people are here, more than those who were in the church. Other groups have also assembled. Maybe, this is really the evidence of people’s sentiments. Maybe, they are seeing that there appears to be things happening now that are similar to what took place during martial law.]
The former chief executive and other Liberal Party members, including Vice President Leni Robredo, senators Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon and Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV and former Interior chief Manuel “Mar” Roxas proceeded to the CHR for the unveiling of the monument of Jose W. Diokno, after they attended the “Mass for Justice” at the University of the Philippines’ Parish of the Holy Sacrifice.
Diokno, a former senator, was the commission’s founding chairman. He fought the Marcos dictatorship and founded the Free Legal Assistance Group, which extended services to human rights victims and their families during martial law.
The mass in UP, offered by anti-extrajudicial killings group, Tindig Pilipinas, commemorated President Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorial rule, which started in September 1972, and the sufferings and heroism of the victims of the regime.
‘Don’t belittle Filipinos’ strength’
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate warned President Rodrigo Duterte “not to belittle the strength and righteous indignation of the Filipino people, especially those participating at the anti-tyranny rally at the Luneta.”
“Huwag din sana niyang nililito tayo. Siya ang isang dahilan kung bakit nagkakaroon ng rebisyonismo ng kasaysayan at pagtatangkang baguhin nila ang kasaysayan ng paglabag sa karapatang pantao noong panahon ng diktador na si Marcos,” said Zarate on Thursday.
[He should not also perplex us. He is the reason why there is a revision of history and there are attempts to change what happened in the violation of human rights during the Marcos dictatorship.]
“Signipikante ang pagkilos ngayon dahil di lang nito ginugunita ang ika-45 na taon ng Martial law ni Marcos, kundi pagpapakita din ito na nilalabanan din natin ang muling panunumbalik ng Batas Militar sa buong bansa. Di lang din ito pagpapahayag kundi pagpapalapad pa ng samahan ng mamamayan laban sa umuusbong na diktadura,” he added.
[The action now is significant not only because the 45th year of martial law is being commemorated but also because it shows that we are fighting against the restoration of military rule nationwide. It’s not only an expression but also a broadening of people’s groups against an emerging dictatorship.]