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'No end to rights abuse' after Martial law

Event on anniversary highlights ongoing efforts to improve people's safety

Martial Law anniversary 2011 (photo: Rene Sandajan) Martial Law anniversary 2011 (photo: Rene Sandajan)
  • ucanews.com reporters, Quezon City
  • Philippines
  • September 21, 2011
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Rights activists and military officials today marked the 39th anniversary of the imposition of martial law by former president Ferdinand Marcos with an event that highlighted ongoing efforts to end human rights abuses in the country

Defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin led a symbolic handover of documents from the period of military rule (1972-1981) to Loreta Ann Rosales, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights, during a ceremony held at the military’s general headquarters.

Rosales, a political prisoner who was tortured by the military, said the handover was important because “every person has the right to know the truth about the regime so that we can be free.”

She added that the CHR will be coordinating with other agencies for the storage and preservation of the documents, which include speeches by opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr, who was assassinated in 1983, and news clippings about the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing that the government blamed on communist rebels.

In a speech at the event, Gazmin acknowledged that the military was used to commit abuses against the people during martial law.

“Thirty-nine years ago today our nation was shackled by the edict of martial law,” said Gazmin, who at that time guarded Aquino, Jr, Marcos’ political rival, while he was in detention.

Marcos declared martial law on the pretext of protecting the country from a communist takeover. He disbanded congress, gave judicial powers to the military and allowed only government-run media to operate.

Bishops and clergy from the Visayas Clergy Discernment Group today marked the anniversary by issuing a statement expressing regret over the government’s failure to stop abuses of power in the years after Marcos was deposed.

Auxiliary Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of Jaro said in the statement that perpetrators of abuse have not been punished and that victims have not received justice.

“Most condemnable of all is that today, some practices of martial law continue behind the cloak of ‘restored democracy, justice and protection of human rights.”

The statement further highlighted the killing of Father Cecilio Lucero as just one of thousands of cases of alleged post-Marcos rights violations.

The statement said Father Cecilio was “murdered by suspected military men” in 2009.
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