Statement of the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) on the 51st Anniversary of Martial Law Declaration

This year, as we mark the 51st year commemorating Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.’s declaration of Martial Law, we find ourselves confronted with the stark reality that the sins and crimes of the past continue to haunt our nation. Coinciding with this is the second year in office of his son, Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., who has chosen to perpetuate the legacy of his father’s authoritarian rule.

Marcos Jr. has persistently engaged in a sustained effort to distort facts and history, attempting to whitewash the atrocities and high crimes committed during his father’s dictatorship. He conveniently avoids addressing the human rights violations, both past and present, that bears on millions of oppressed Filipinos.

When significant events related to the dark era of martial law arise, such as the martial law anniversary, the EDSA uprising commemoration, or the commemoration of the Aquino assassination, Marcos Jr. dons a mask of reconciliation, urging his critics to put aside political differences for the sake of national unity. We are not deceived by such disingenuous calls because justice continues to be denied and arguably worse fascist attacks on our people continue, amid the persistence of the culture of impunity.

What Jonila Castro and Jhed Tamano went through – their abduction, enforced disappearance, fake or forced surrender, the threats against them – are similar to what many of us in SELDA experienced as political prisoners. Torture, whether in physical or psychological forms, by State agents inflicts not just long-lasting trauma, but delivers a message that spawns fear and that seeks to silence dissent.

What the young human rights workers of Southern Tagalog, the churchworkers of United Methodist Church, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and the United Church of Christ of the Philippines, journalist Frenchie Mae Cumpio, and the indigenous people’s leaders of Cordillera and Mindanao are experiencing – of being charged of high crimes of terrorism – have the same complexion of cases heaped upon political prisoners, from Marcos Sr. to Marcos Jr.

So even without the formal declaration of martial law, the infrastructure of impunity, the laws and apparatuses that were used by Marcos Sr. to suppress dissent, the distortion of facts to fit the narrative of the Marcos era’s “the good, true and beautiful” rhetoric, and the imprints of martial law are all palpable.

Marcos Jr. copycats his dictator-father’s acts of tyranny and oppression.

SELDA stands firm in our commitment to upholding the principles of truth, justice, and human rights, and we will persevere in the struggle for genuine freedom and national democracy alongside the Filipino people. #