A call by the eldest daughter of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos to “move on” from the country’s dark past has provoked a backlash from victims of rights abuses committed under her father’s two-decade rule.
At a political event in the central city of Cebu on Tuesday, Imee Marcos, 62, suggested that Filipinos should put the past behind them.
“The millennials have moved on and I think people at my age should move on as well,” Marcos, 62, said on the sidelines of the gathering, which was highlighted by the appearance of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Marcos family’s newfound political benefactor.
Imee Marcos made the remarks as the country was commemorating the 35th anniversary of the assassination of her father’s arch political foe, Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr.
On Wednesday, former rights commissioner Etta Rosales, who was raped and tortured during the Marcos era of martial law, slammed Imee Marcos’ “historical revisionism.”
“It is obvious that they want to get back to power and this is all that matters to them,” she told BenarNews. “It is even sadder that Duterte, a ruler who knows little of democracy, admires Marcos and seeks to emulate him.”
She said Imee Marcos should be exposed for attempting to revise history and for moving to “erase the crimes committed by their kin.”
Rosales urged journalists to continue reporting on the real struggles and many abuses committed under the brutal Marcos regime (1965-1986).
Thousands of Filipinos were killed and tortured during the Marcos era, with the strongman believed to have plundered up to U.S. $10 billion from state coffers. So far, only about $658 million in Swiss deposits have been found.
Ninoy Aquino’s 1983 assassination at Manila’s international airport when he returned from self-exile changed the course of Philippine history, angering Filipinos who rose up against the dictator three years later. Marcos was sent into exile in Hawaii where he died in 1989. The airport is named in Aquino’s honor.
Aquino’s wife, Corazon, eventually replaced Marcos as president as the country transitioned to democracy. Their son, Benigno Simeon Aquino III, also become president and was replaced by Duterte in 2016.
Marcos’ wife, Imelda, and children, Imee, Ferdinand Jr. and Irene were allowed to return to the Philippines and bury Marcos’ body at the family’s political stronghold of Ilocos Norte, near Manila.
The family has since revived itself politically, with Imelda now a member of congress representing Ilocos Norte, where Imee is the governor.
Ferdinand Jr., known here as “Bongbong,” was a senator who in 2016 lost his bid for the vice presidency. But Duterte is backing him and said he would step aside if Marcos Jr. won his electoral protest.
Duterte publicly said that he owed the Marcos family a debt of gratitude. Shortly after winning the presidency, he had the remains of Marcos transferred to a heroes’ cemetery in Manila, causing widespread protests from anti-Marcos activists.
A youth group calling itself Spark (or the Group of Progressive Youths) slammed Imee Marcos for trying to erase history.
“There is no moving on until justice has been served. There is also no moving on in that we will never forget the damage martial law has done,” the group said in a statement. “She has no right no claim what our stand is on the issue. Not in our name, Imee Marcos.”