‘NO TO BONGBONG’
Former Martial Law detainees and at least 15 activist groups in Cebu convened yesterday to speak with one voice and urge voters to repudiate the vice presidential aspiration of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.
Worried about the recent increase in Bongbong’s voter approval ratings, members of the Anti-Bongbong Coalition (ABC) saw the need to remind Filipinos about the “dark” years in the country’s history under the 20-year reign of the senator’s father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
Should Bongbong be blamed for his father’s faults?
Dr. Rhodora Bucoy, a professor of the University of the Philippines Cebu and lead convenor of ABC, said the 58-year-old senator is equally liable since he also benefited from Marcos family’s stolen wealth.
“He (Bongbong) benefited from the excesses of the dictatorship. The Marcos loot helped him live like a Marcos prince after Edsa (People Power Revolution) and rebuild his political career,” Bucoy said in a press conference at Handuraw Pizza Cafe in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City yesterday.
For so long, she said people who struggled to end the Marcos dictatorship faded into the background.
“But today, the anti-Marcos forces have awakened. We will unite with the Filipino people in strengthening democracy by foiling the return of the dictator’s unrepentant son,” Bucoy said.
The ABC will be formally launched at 1 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, at the City Sports Club in Cebu City.
The group held its first press conference yesterday as Filipinos marked the 30th anniversary of the Edsa People Power Revolution that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.
Shouts of “Never Again to Martial Law,” “Never Again,” “Never Forget,” and “No to the Return of the Marcoses” filled the conference room where members of the group gathered. They also showed photographs of Bongbong with huge X marks.
The group plans to mobilize its student members to put “X” marks on all campaign posters of Bongbong in Cebu.
In Colon, youth activists wearing blindfolds and gags stopped traffic and endured the morning heat for about two hours to remind Cebuanos about the killings, disappearances and other human rights violations during the Marcos regime.
They hung on their shoulders the names of desaparecidos, or disappeared persons, including 22-year-old Ishmael Quimpo, Jr. and 23-year-old Rizalina Ilagan.
“At this time, people are forgetting the struggle of Martial Law and the lives of young people who were wasted by the Marcos regime. We are here to commemorate these martyrs, these iconic youth leaders, that many have forgotten,” said Justine Balane, Akbayan Youth Visayas member and organizer of the event.
He said the blindfolds and gags represented how the Filipino youth were blinded and silenced by the Marcos regime.
They also thumbed down Bongbong Marcos’s vice presidential aspirations and vowed to build a “Solid South” against him to counter the “Solid North” of the Ilocos region in his favor.
“Bongbong Marcos should stop implanting visions that his father was a hero. Marcos was never a hero,” said Jumjum Ouano, Akbayan Youth Visayas head.
Results of the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey released last week showed Bongbong, a candidate of the Nationalista Party, sharing the top spot with Sen. Francis Escudero, an independent, in the vice presidential race.
A manifesto of ABC said the Marcos loyalists did not only survive the fall of the dictatorship but are now working hard to revive the reign of the Marcoses.
“They did not just thrive. They went about muddling memories of our nation’s painful past and supplant it with lies about the dictator. We lament that 30 years after Edsa, the democracy we won remains flawed,” the group said.
One of ABC’s members, retired Cebu Regional Trial Court Judge Meinrado Paredes, said he could never forget how human rights were violated during Martial Law.
He said he was among the student activists who were detained for a year when the Martial Law was imposed in 1972.
“Instead of taking the Bar Exams at that time, I was placed behind bars,” said Paredes, who was a member of the Cebu chapter of the Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag), a group of lawyers defending victims of military atrocities and other forms of human rights violations during the Marcos rule.
Every Filipino, he said, should never forget how people fought to bring back freedom and democracy, which were taken from them by President Marcos and his cohorts.
“Edsa (People Power) did not solve the basic problems of Filipinos. There are still dynasty, corruption, and poverty. But Edsa paved the way for us to regain freedom,” Paredes said.
“Martial Law was a reign of evil and terror. All rights were suppressed. If you want to revive those moments, then let Bongbong win,” he added.
Like Paredes, 63-year-old Romulos Dingcong was also detained during the Martial Law for being a student activist.
Dingcong, a native of Negros Occidental, was tortured by members of the Philippine Constabulary and was detained in Cebu for three years.
“Dihay panahon nga ilang gimudmod ang akong nawong sa inudoro, unya gibartolina ko sulod sa usa ka buwan (There was a time when they pressed my face against the toilet, and locked me in a dungeon for a month),” he said.
Dingcong is praying Bongbong will not be elected to the country’s second highest post.
“The election is a game of money and evil. If you have the machinery and money, there’s a big possibility that you will win. We won’t allow Bongbong to use all these things so he will become vice president,” he said.
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