Manila Archbishop Cardinal Jose Advincula said people learned lessons after experiencing oppression of freedom and free speech
Pictures of human rights defenders and church leaders are laid along a road during a demonstration on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary since the imposition of Martial Law, at the University of the Philippines in Quezon City, suburban Manila, on Sept. 21. (Photo: AFP)
Church leaders in the Philippines have asked Catholics not to forget the atrocities committed during the dictatorship of former President Ferdinand Marcos, father of the current president, under martial law imposed 50 years ago.
Manila Archbishop Cardinal Jose Advincula issued a statement on Sept. 21 describing the martial law period as “turbulent times” in Philippine history.
The Cardinal said Filipinos learned lessons after experiencing oppression of freedom and free speech.
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“It cannot be denied that this signaled a turbulent period in our history as a people. In the middle of the darkness, we saw a light. In the face of bad things, we learn lessons,” Cardinal Advincula said in his statement.
Among the lessons learned by Filipinos during martial law was the value of human life and respect for human rights, the cardinal said.
“We have learned to value human life, uphold the dignity of each, and respect human rights. We have learned that true progress depends on justice and peace. We have learned to fight for the truth,” the Filipino cardinal added.
The Cardinal said Catholics cannot learn lessons of martial law if they forget the past.
“We cannot learn these important lessons if we try to deny or forget the darkness of the past,” he added.
A group of farmers whose members were jailed without warrant by the military during the Marcos regime said the cardinal’s statement was surprising and inspiring.
“We were reminded of the late Manila Archbishop Cardinal Jaime Sin. It’s good to know that the Catholic Church wants to remind the people of the human rights violations committed during martial law,” Erning Gabas, spokesperson for the Farmers' Group Against Marcos, told UCA News.
Gabas said they requested the Cardinal to speak in a similar fashion before the national election, but he remained silent.
The May 9 election saw Marcos, Jr. win by a landslide against church-based candidate Leni Robredo.
Bishop Colin Bagaforo, head of Catholic charity Caritas, said the nation cannot “move on” from the martial law era without justice and accountability, reported the Catholic bishops’ website CBCP News.
He said no Filipino should forget the human rights abuses and the corruption during the dictatorship.
The prelate was reacting to a statement by two lawmakers — Senators Jinggoy Estrada and Robin Padilla — saying that the country must “move on” as it marks the 50th anniversary of the imposition of martial law.
Caritas is joining everyone in the call “to never again let the powers that be control the narratives of the Filipino people,” he said.
Bishop Bagaforo urged people to defend the truth, fight misinformation and disinformation by supporting legitimate sources of information and continue to demand “accountability and transparency from government officials, especially those who hold greater positions of power.”
Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, and ruled the country with an iron fist for 14 years until a popular Church-backed uprising ousted him in 1986.
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