By Mark Saludes and Ronald Reyes
Catholic and Protestant groups in the Philippines have united to oppose what they perceive as the impending return to power of the Marcos family, who ruled the country in a dictatorial grip for two decades until 1986.
“We must stand together and say never again to martial law,” said retired Bishop Deogracias Iniguez Jr. of Kalookan.
“We pray that people will see the truth and hear the cries of those who cannot bear the threat of another dictator in power,” said Bishop Iniguez.
Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, continues to lead opinion polls for the vice presidency ahead of May 9 national elections.
Bishop Iniguez said the Catholic Church has the “moral obligation to announce what is good and to denounce what is evil.” The prelate said a Marcos victory would be “an insult to countless martyrs of martial law.”
Nardy Sabino, spokesman of the ecumenical group Promotion of Church People’s Response, said the Marcos family should be held liable for human rights violations and the “looting of public funds.”
Rights groups claimed the Marcos family amassed some US$10 billion. The Philippine government has so far recovered US$4 billion.
During the 21-year rule of Marcos, the country’s foreign debt ballooned from US$360 million in 1962 to US$28.3 billion in 1986.
In 1985, the then-26-year-old Marcos was appointed by his father as chairman of the Philippine Communications Satellite Corp. with a US$9,700 monthly salary.
Bishop Arturo Asi of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines claimed the corporation siphoned the alleged ill-gotten Marcos family wealth out of the country.
The Protestant bishop accused the younger Marcos of “continuously covering up the unprecedented plunder and economic sabotage” that his father committed.
“People should understand how hard life was during the rule of the Marcos family,” said Roy Montes, a former political detainee.
Some 3,000 people were killed while thousands more were detained, tortured, raped, or disappeared during the dictatorship.
Marcos said he is running for vice president “to continue the legacy of my father, of my parents.”
“It’s been 30 years since 1986. It’s been a long time, all the joy, all the tears, all kinds of emotions have already been felt,” he said on the side of a campaign rally in Tacloban City in the central Philippine province of Leyte.
Leyte is the home province of Marcos’ mother, Imelda, a congresswoman representing Ilocos Norte province in the northern Philippines.
Marcos said there is nothing to change if he is given the chance to rewrite Philippine history.
“The past is the past. The past cannot be rewritten. What can we rewrite is the present and the future,” he said.
He said he is trying to present a program to make the Philippines a better place to live and improve the country’s status in the international community.”