Philippines: Marcos burial forms part of pattern towards authoritarianism


Akbayan joins the rest of the country in denouncing the unilateral, treacherous burial of the dictator Marcos as a hero.

President Duterte needs to stop abetting the sanitation of the Marcos history by glorifying and honoring a murderous despot. Duterte can never simply reduce the Marcos burial to a question of legality – even as laws exist, such as the Marcos human rights victims’ compensation law recognizing that Marcos is anything but a hero.

But this act of patronage for a family that contributed to the President’s campaign kitty is only the latest in a growing list of actuations that point to a worrying and very costly tendency for an authoritarian bent.

In condoning extra judicial killings, Duterte is normalizing death as the most effective methodology for addressing societal ills. With no perpetrators in jail, impunity has become the norm. And with thousands of dead, due process and the rule of law have taken huge hits. And government is yet to display any signs of seriously pursuing perpetrators. Instead the country was threatened with the proposal to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, which raises the spectre of warrantless arrests.

Such recklessness is tantamount to an inception of the idea that the times call for an iron fist. The hero’s burial for Marcos does not only glorify and justify the reign of terror Marcos inflicted on us -- it reinforces an inauthentic demand for its repetition.

Akbayan vows to intensify its efforts along with the broad ranks of freedom-loving Filipinos in revisiting and retelling the truths of Martial Law so that we may draw the right lessons, and vow to never let it happen again.

Akbayan stands with the rest of the Filipinos in exacting the accountability that belongs to President Duterte, and him alone. His decision on this matter, when taken within the larger context of acts that disempower, demobilize, creates fear and paranoia, and strengthens societal cleavages, would allow for a dictator to flourish somewhere down the line.

Akbayan demands that Duterte not only severe his loyalty to the Marcoses, but address the other tragedies that characterize both Martial Law and his administration: the thousands of extra judicial killings, crackdown on opponents, and rampant corruption that remains unchecked. Instead Duterte can not only disassociate from the Marcoses, he can pursue the numerous cases to return their ill-gotten wealth to the country.

Akbayan with members in key cities such as Pampanga, Lucena, San Pablo, Naga, Legazpu, Cebu, and Zamboanga shall call in unison today for collective vigilance against injustice and impunity, and recognize that these calls must stop at Duterte's doorstop.

It is for the freedoms we enjoy today – no matter how imperfect -- that we demand the President turn his back on his authoritarian pursuits, and focus on delivering justice, to the victims of Martial Law, and the country as a whole.

Because by allowing the burial of Marcos as a hero, Duterte may be paying his political debts now. But in the long run, he is opening the door to another monster.


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