FVR tells voters: Visit Bantayog ng mga Bayani
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former President Fidel Ramos on Wednesday, February 23, encouraged voters to visit the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation in Quezon City to know the truth about martial law.
Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation, located along Quezon Avenue, is founded by the victims of the dark dictatorship. Installed beside the foundation's office is a huge wall where more than a hundred names of victims of oppression during martial law are inscribed.
"There in Quezon City are the names of victims of martial law. The most prominent among them are young people like you. Like Edjop (Edgar Jopson). Learn about these people," said Ramos at a press conference for the premiere of Discovery Channel's "People Power: 30 Years On," which airs Thursday, February 25, at 9 pm.
Edjop or Edgar Jopson was a prominent youth activist during the First Quarter Storm, the period of student unrest against Marcos in 1971. Jopson was killed in a military raid in Davao City.
Other dissenters of the dictatorship whose names are on the wall are doctor and cancer researcher Juan Escandor, community physician Bobby dela Paz, indigenous rights activist Macliing Dulag, and the late Senator Benigno Aquino Sr, father of the Philippines' incumbent president.
Marcos' 20-year rule was plagued with corruption and human rights violations. Amnesty International (AI) estimated that his regime imprisoned 70,000 people, tortured 34,000, and killed at least 3,240.
No to violence
Ramos, a cousin of Marcos, was one of the key figures of the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that brought down the dictatorship. He was then the chief of the now-defunct Philippine Constabulary.
He reminded Filipinos that EDSA was a unique revolution that "ejected an oppressive regime" and that the country does not have to go back to a violent era.
"Look around the world today, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Syria, all bloody… or look at the images of people incarcerated by [explosive devices] in Vietnam," he said
"Is that what you want? No one wants World War 3, even that crazy guy in Korea," he added, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Some voters, martial law victims in particular, fear the return of the Marcoses to power. Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr is currently running for vice president.
On Monday, February 22, a coalition of martial law victims formally launched Carmma or the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang. The group vowed to stop the vice presidential bid of Marcos Jr and counter his claims about the success of his father's regime.
Marcos, for his part, respected his dissenters' rights to express their ill feelings about him and his family.
"Karapatan ng ibang tao yan, pabayaan natin ang tao na maghusga. Kaya tayo naghahalalan para maghusga kung ano ang palagay nila," he said during a local sortie in Tuguegarao a day before the EDSA anniversary.
(It's their right to campaign against me but let the people judge. That'
the reason why he have elections, to let people judge of what they think.)
But his campaign manager, ABAKADA party-list representative Jonathan Dela Cruz, slammed the group's plans, accusing them of "demonizing" the senator.
"Instead of focusing on the problems now before us and which, if left unresolved, will hound and hobble our future generations, they have chosen to demonize Senator Marcos and those who have sacrificed to keep the nation whole," Dela Cruz said.
The lawmaker added that the nation should not remain in the "shadows of the past" that only "darkens the doorstep to a promising future."
"These groups have chosen to do the battles of the past which, by the way, the Marcoses have left to the processes under the 1987 Constitution and the judgment of history," he also said.
Ironically, Dela Cruz was a staunch anti-Marcos student leader during the dictatorship and a key leader of the leftist Samahang Demokratiko ng Kabataan. – with a report from Raymond Dullana / Rappler.com
Read Rappler's other #EDSA30 stories:
- #AnimatED: Millennial, paano ka apektado ng martial law?
- When breaking the law was necessary
- #NeverAgain: Martial Law stories young people need to hear
- 'Marcos apologists, don't tell us to move on'
- TIMELINE: First Quarter Storm
- Your life under the next dictator
- FQS: The uprising that created and nurtured people power
- #EDSA30: One memorable meeting on Feb 23
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