A former senatorial candidate challenged incoming press secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles to a debate on the Martial Law period, following her comments about questioning historical events.
Lawyer Luke Espiritu responded to a quote card featuring the remarks of his former ally when he issued the debate challenge.
Cruz-Angeles previously said that questioning historical events, “even scientific theories and established facts,” should not be prohibited in light of “free speech.”
“Mahalaga ang diskurso. Kaya lumalaganap yung ganung ideya dahil sa kakulangan ng diskurso,” she was quoted on DZMM Teleradyo’s “On The Spot.”
“Free speech is the rule. Discourse determines what is disinformation, misinformation,” the lawyer-vlogger added.
“Some ideas need discourse, some ideas are open to investigation, some ideas are supported, certain ideas can always be questioned but it doesn’t mean that they will come up with a different conclusion,” she said. “It doesn’t mean na invalid speech na ang pagtatanong.”
When asked about possible attempts of the incoming Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s administration to revise the information on events that occurred during his father’s term, the lawyer-vlogger responded that it is a “minefield in itself.”
“We’re all part of that discourse, kasaysayan natin ang pinaguusapan. Why don’t we allow a discourse?” Cruz-Angeles replied. “We’re talking about free speech. I think that everything should always be open to debate.”
“Even scientific theories are always open to question but I’m not saying that just because we open it to question, a different result will come out of it,” Cruz-Angeles continued.
“Does it mean that we stop those people from asking questions if we think that the result is something we are not ready to accept or is in fact, even wrong? Do we stop the discourse because people may come up with the wrong conclusion? The point of the matter is to allow discourse and that is what free speech is about,” the lawyer-vlogger added.
This prompted Espiritu to tweet:
“Game! Debate tayo.”
Game! Debate tayo. https://t.co/AKMYZc8sTA
— Luke Espiritu (@LukeEspirituPH) May 31, 2022
He previously disclosed that he used to be “allies” with the incoming press secretary more than a decade ago.
Espiritu gained national attention when he figured in a heated argument with another then-senatorial bet, suspended lawyer Larry Gadon, during a televised debate in the campaign period.
Gadon, a Marcos loyalist, accused priests of supposedly teaching children to develop views against the Marcoses and Martial Law instead of teaching them “good values.”
“Dapat tinuturo sa school na masama ang extrajudicial killings, masama ang red-tagging, masama si Marcos (Ferdinand Marcos Sr.), marami siyang human rights violations,” Espiritu countered.
Gadon attempted to interrupt Espiritu several times, which made the labor lawyer famously exclaim that he cannot be interrupted as it was still his time to speak.
Nine-year martial rule
Ferdinand Marcos Sr. placed the country under a nine-year Martial Law to supposedly quell the communist insurgency and restore peace, but critics said it was his attempt to extend his term as head of state.
The period saw mandated curfew hours, prohibition on assemblies, curtailment of civil liberties, extrajudicial killings, unsolved disappearances, media repression and economic recession, among others.
It also saw activists, human rights defenders and civilians being arrested by emboldened uniformed personnel with the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
A law was created in recognition and reparation of victims of rights abuse during Marcos Sr’s regime, which is Republic Act 10368. This is also known as the Human Rights Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
Global rights organization Amnesty International said that Martial Law had some 70,000 people imprisoned, 34,000 tortured and over 3,200 people killed.
The organization visited the Philippines two times during Marcos Sr’s term—1971 and 1981.