Human rights groups, grassroots activists and civil society organizations launch protest marking the anniversary of the declaration of martial law
Quezon City- Human rights groups, grassroots activists and civil society organizations launched in a press conference (September 18, 2020) a joint protest commemorating forty-eight years since the declaration of martial law by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. The groups gathered at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani to hold memorial rites at the Wall of Remembrance and deliver public statements.
Participants also announced plans to hold a public program on Monday, the anniversary of Marcos’ signing of the declaration of martial law, which includes a mock tribunal against the Duterte government, cultural presentations and other creatives for public participation.
The protesters condemned the role that President Duterte actively plays in rehabilitating the reputation of the Marcos family. Recently the House of Representatives has approved a draft bill designating September 11, the late strongman’s birthday, as a non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte.
Participants also lamented that many of the current and proposed laws as well as Duterte’s executive issuances reflected some of the most oppressive martial law policies during Marcos’ dictatorship.
“Marcos outlawed legitimate organizations and persecuted their members who protested his dictatorship. This repressive measure has found its revival in Duterte’s government, which has enacted the Anti-terrorism law”, said Rose Trajano, Secretary of Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA).
“Ferdinand Marcos’ military tribunal meted out 150 death sentences against civilians during martial law. Many of them political opponents. Today Duterte is pushing for the revival of the death penalty for some heinous crimes but we believe that could easily include political activism,” said Fr. Angel Cortez, Co-Executive Secretary of the Association of Major Religious Superiors of the Philippines (AMRSP).
In a statement read by the In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND), the group protested the unrelenting extrajudicial killings, including those of political activists, land, environment and human rights defenders, as well as the “fast-tracked anti-people economic programs (that) fit the dictatorship blueprint for widespread poverty and oppression”.
The protesters clarified that NEVER AGAIN remains the Filipino’s people’s strongest battle cry against decades of repression, injustice and poverty.
A candle lighting ceremony near a martial law exhibit symbolized the groups’ commitment to freedom, democracy and human rights for all.
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