DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 19 November) – Multi-awarded Moro filmmaker Gutierrez “Teng” Manganskan is inviting President Rodrigo Duterte and the Marcos family to watch his film, “Forbidden Memory,” on the 1974 Malisbong Massacre committed under martial law, dubbed “the greatest Marcos horror story never told.”
Mangansakan invited the President through a short letter posted on his Facebook wall, in response to the President’s statement in Lima, Peru that he was “just being literally strict” about following the law to allow Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heores’ Cemetery), and that “whether or not (Marcos) performed worse or better” as President, “there is no study, there is no movie about it. It’s just the challenges and allegations of the other side which is not enough.”
Marcos was elected President in 1965. At that time, the Constitution provided for a four-year term with only one reelection. Marcos was reelected in 1969 and was supposed to end his second and last term in 1973 but he declared martial law in September 1972 and was ousted in February 1986.
Within the 14-year dictatorship, human rights violations were rampant, poverty was widespread but the Marcoses and their cronies lived lavish lifestyles.
The Marcoses were ousted by a People Power revolt in February 1986.
“Come and watch”
Several books, documentaries, songs, and films have been made on the martial law years, the latest of which is Mangansakan’s “Forbidden Memory” film.
“I made a film on the Martial Law and how it resulted to the genocide of more than 1,500 men, women and children in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat province. It’s called Forbidden Memory and it premiered last night in Cinema One Originals Film Festival,” Mangansakan wrote Duterte.
He also listed the screening times of the film: November 20 at Cinematheque Manila at 11 a.m. and at Trinoma at 2:30 p.m; November 21, at the Gateway Cinema I at 9 p.m. and November 22 at the Glorietta Cinema 1 at 5 p.m.
“I am inviting you to come and watch,” Mangansakan said, adding a postscript: “Bring Bongbong, Imee, Irene and the rest of the Marcos clan.”
Bongbong is Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., the only son of his namesake and mother Imelda, a former Congressman, Governor and Senator who ran for Vice President in May but lost to Leni Robredo; Imee is eldest daughter, now Governor of Ilocos Norte; and Irene Marcos-Araneta, the youngest.
Duterte on July 11 had given a verbal order to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to make preparations for Marcos’ burial at the LNMB. In an August 7 memorandum to General Ricardo Visaya, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Lorenzana said that in compliance with the President’s verbal order on July 11 “to implement his election campaign promise” to have the remains of Marcos buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB or Heroes’ Cemetery), “kindly undertake the necessary planning and preparations to facilitate the coordination of all agencies concerned specially the provisions for ceremonial and security arrangements.”
“The answer was fury”
The September 1974 “Malisbong Massacre” has been memorialized in Mangansakan’s documentary feature, “Forbidden Memory,” which had its world premiere at the Gateway Cinema in Quezon City on November 18.
“Forbidden Memory” is one of three documentary features out of 10 entries to the Cineme One Originals Festival that started on November 14 and will end on November 22.
The film’s synopsis says Forbidden Memory “summons remembrances and memories of the fateful days in September 1974 when about 1,000 men from Malisbong and neighboring villages in Palimbang, Sultan Kudarat province, were killed while 3,000 women and children were forcibly taken to naval boats stationed nearby where they encountered unspeakable horror. The genocide and atrocities were perpetrated under the dark years of the Martial Law regime of Ferdinand Marcos.”
In his Director’s Journal Entry posted on his Facebook wall on August 10, Mangansakan said he went to Malisbong and its neighboring barangays a day earlier to ask survivors about their sentiments on the burial of Marcos’ remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“The answer was fury,” wrote Mangansakan.
“Under Martial Law, more than a thousand were killed by Philippine military forces in what is now known as the Malisbong Massacre. After talking to survivors, I conclude that it was no ordinary massacre. It was genocide,” he said.
Mangansakan told MindaNews that the documentary “is a study of memory and how this memory keeps the spirit alive and the faith burning. It is not focused on validating historical truth,” as he acknowledges that “a lot of the accounts are inconsistent at times,” but on “how the memory of that truth keep a sense of community in seeking justice and reparation.”
On Nov. 8, the Supreme Court dismissed the petitions opposing Marcos’ burial at the LNMB, by a vote of 9 in favor, 5 against and one abstention.
On Nov. 18, the Marcoses sprung a surprise on the nation by burying the dictators’ remains in private rites videotaped and later dispatched via Facebook by Imee Marcos.
Upon arrival in Lima near midnight on November 17 (afternoon of November 18 in the Philippines), Duterte told the state-owned PTV 4 that the Marcos burial “seems to be a very raucous issue for the nation but I would like to pray that everybody would find a space in his heart for forgiveness.”
“And for those who have been somehow hurt or injured that they can take some other…For those detained for so long and suffering you have this option to file a case against the late President Marcos. You know, the sins cannot visit the children and liability is always personal. That’s a principle of law na sinusunod natin (that we follow),” the President said.
On November 9, a day after the Supreme Court ruling, Duterte told a press conference before boarding the plane for Thailand, that “as a lawyer, I stick by what the law says. The law says that soldiers and ex-Presidents, ‘yung namatay o maski hindi siguro ex, basta Presidente ka, doon ka ilibing.”
But said the “tussle about the dictatorship of Marcos is something which cannot be determined at this time. It has to have history.”
The “sins of Marcos,” Duterte said, have “yet to be proven by a competent court. Yung sabihin lang niya nawala ‘yung pera, that is altogether another different issue.”
HRVs, ill-gotten wealth
That violations of human rights and corruption were rampant under Marcos were acknowledged in a law passed in February 2013 — RA 10368 — providing for “reparation and recognition of victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime” and “documentation of said violations,” among others.
The law also provides that the principal source of funds to implement the law – ten billion pesos plus accrued interest – will be from funds “transferred to the government of the Republic of the Philippines by virtue of the December 10, 1997 Order of the Swiss Federal Supreme Court, adjudged by the Supreme Court of the Philippines as final and executory in Republic vs. Sandiganbayan on July 15, 2003 (G.R. No. 152154) as Marcos ill-gotten wealth and forfeited in favor of the Republic of the Philippines.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)