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July 30, 2014

Human rights violations

The anti-Marcos forces never miss a beat in portraying Marcos as a ruthless, bloodthirsty ogre when it comes to human rights.   To drive home this Marcosian malevolence, they recount, with standard tearful sympathies and indignant spiels, horror stories of poor, pitiful folks at some far-away, impoverished village or nearby slum areas having had gruesome encounters with abusive and corrupt men in uniform during the time.   A young maiden raped, a factory worker tortured, a village burned, a farmer missing… In emotional times, this propaganda strategy could work wonders to fan the flames, but for today’s young far removed from the time and scene of the crime, this looks kinda foolish.  The badness and wrongs of the men on the field could not be the badness and wrongs of a President. 

Not to mention, there are muddling matters to consider. When it came to fighting the forces of government, the insurgents certainly understood warfare strategies, played it hard and dirty too, with cunning and ferocity.   Human rights was used on occasion as an ingenious shield and a propaganda ploy to win the mind of the public.  Indeed, a missing student could well have been a combatant who died in a battle.   A razed community could have been a rebel base.  A social worker assisting a poor community could be a rebel recruiter.  A labor organizer an urban commando leader.  So, on this issue,  it is necessary to be mindful that propaganda and the authentic could have gotten mixed up.

In any case, the question really is not whether there were human rights violations or not because even Marcos acknowledged it then.  In fact, he created independent bodies to investigate allegations of this nature and several were accordingly served punishment.  The question should be as regards the extent of his responsibility.  How much or how far should he— or any President for that matter—-  be held answerable to the individual offenses and crimes of the men in the field — beyond command responsibility?  I guess the other issue perplexing the young today is, why the inconsistency?   If human rights violations is the true issue, and we go by the principle of command responsibility, why the distinctive rage and retribution being directed on Marcos and Marcos alone?  Certainly, the problem on human rights violations dogged every President after him, at some point even grew worse.   There’s got to be some reason why human rights advocates could be so fitfully indignant as to be calling on godly furies to fall on one President yet silent, tolerant and forgiving, even unmindful on the same issue with Cory, FVR, Erap, GMA, and Noynoy.  I think that one needs some explaining especially to the youth.

Just recently, a law was passed to provide a P10B compensation package for alleged Marcos victims. In a program that celebrated the historic signing of the bill into law, President Aquino sure enough went to town declaiming about justice being finally served the victims of Marcos atrocities.  If unwittingly, however, the reparation initiative succeeded too in unmasking the identities of the supposed “ten thousand victims of Martial Law”,  a catch-all label that lumped them all into one for effect and also hid individual identities.  As it turns out,  with a little sleuthing, about 95% of the recognized claimants are members of a Communist allied organization, SELDA.  Incidentally, the list also included the former Communist Party Chair, Prof.  Joma Sison, now safely ensconced in Netherlands since his release from jail where occasionally he tries to rally his communist confederates.  The bewildered youth must be saying, “and we thought you were telling us these Communists were pests, why then are we giving them money in billions yet!  Marcos gave them hell and you dishonor him for it!”


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