21 September 2016
Konsyensya Dabaw joins the rest of the world in marking September 21 as the International Day of Peace. Indeed, there are reasons to be hopeful given the commitment of the actors of the country’s different conflict lines to pursue their respective peace processes.
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are engaging the Philippine Government and other stakeholders to seek political solutions that would end armed conflicts that have been raging since the late ‘60s and ‘70s, and to address root causes.
There is one historical fact that binds the struggles of the NDFP, MNLF, and the MILF: all three broke out into full-blown wars within the 21 years that Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. was in power. While the three wars have roots that go back to the country’s colonial past, it cannot be denied that the Marcos years not only failed to address the causes, the Marcos administration also created and deepened conditions of social injustice that triggered open crises and armed confrontations.
For the NDFP, MNLF, and MILF, and the Filipinos who suffered massively in the years of authoritarian rule, and even afterwards, Marcos headed a government that was corrupt, connived with elite and foreign interests to amass wealth for personal gain while millions endured poverty, and used manipulation and force to divide, marginalize and suppress opposition. More than 100,000 Filipinos directly suffered brutal, and for some lethal, treatment under Marcos; while the rest of Philippine society endured the economic setbacks and debt burden that followed when the Marcoses were ousted in 1986.
While some form and degree of recognition and reparation had been extended to the victims of Marcosian rule, still many more have yet to know justice. The planned burial for Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) is inconsistent with society’s efforts to heal the wounds caused by historical injustices, repression and social inequities. It is like talking peace while retraumatizing the bodies, hearts and minds of women and men Christians, Bangsamoro and indigenous peoples of different ages who sacrificed and suffered during that dark period. It is as if the martyrdom of those who died fighting Marcos could be set aside, such as those from the ranks of the liberation movements, and their fighters.
A hero’s burial for Marcos would actually put at risk the peace efforts of Government, the NDFP, MNLF, and MILF because it signals the continuing whitewash, and unchecked return of interests and forces that do not desire social transformation, justice and peace.
What underpins the insidious efforts to bury Marcos at LNMB is the drive to slowly and systematically revise Filipino understanding of history, and pave the way for the eventual victory of the powers personified and led by the Marcoses against which revolutionary forces resisted. These powers will not stop at a hero’s burial for Marcos, Sr., which will be but one of many efforts to erode and unravel the meaningful changes that are being attempted in the peace processes. Already, we feel the toxic effects in the mindsets of Filipinos who mistake dictatorship for strong leadership, who take human rights lightly, and display intolerant and abusive behavior online.
September 21 is the International Day of Peace. It is also the 44th anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines. We should not let the Marcoses of the past, and any Marcos-like forces in the future ruin our chances at genuine and lasting peace.
Bury Marcos in Batac and not at LNMB! Never again to Martial Law!
KONSYENSYA DABAW (Hugpong Dabawenyo para LNMBatac)