PH House OKs Marcos Day bill

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A MEASURE seeking to declare September 11 as a special non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte to commemorate the birth anniversary of former Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, has been approved on its 3rd and final reading by the House of Representatives.

HB 7137, authored by Ilocos Norte 1st District Rep. Ria Fariñas, Ilocos Norte 2nd District Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, and Probinsyano Ako Rep. Rudys Caesar Fariñas, garnered 197 affirmative votes, nine negative, and one abstention on Wednesday, September 2.

The bill was endorsed by the committee on Local Government as a consolidation of Barba’s HB 2218 and the Farinas siblings’ HB 4595.

According to Barba, HB 2218 is a salute to “a brilliant man whose vision for the country remains unparalleled.”

“His extraordinary display of leadership and incomparable brilliance serves as an inspiration to his fellow Ilocanos. He is a man of vision, action and wisdom,” he said in the explanatory note.

Palace distances itself

Malacañang, for its part, said it will let the Congress decide the proposed measure’s fate.
“Rerespetuhin po ng Presidente kung ano po ang magiging desisyon ng mga policy-maker sa Kongreso (The President will respect whatever the decision of Congress’ policy-makers would be),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday, September 3.

“Iyan naman po ay katungkulan ng Kongreso. Rerespetuhin po kung ano ang magiging desisyon ng Kongreso (That’s the Congress’ job. We will respect whatever Congress’ decision would be),” he added.

In 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Proclamation 310 which declared Sept. 11 as a special non-working day in Ilocos Norte to mark Marcos’ birth anniversary.

The proclamation stated that the Ilocano community would be given the opportunity to commemorate “his life and contributions to national development as a World War II veteran, distinguished legislator, and former president.”

Marcos, the 10th President of the Republic of the Philippines, was born on September 11, 1917 in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte.

Various groups protest

Lawmakers and various progressive groups expressed dismay over the approval of HB 7137.

Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, one of the nine legislators who voted in the negative, said Marcos does not deserve a holiday commemorating him.

“In the same manner that the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is not truly entitled to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani because of the gross repressions and corruption during the Marcos martial law regime, he does not also deserve a ‘President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Day’ as proposed in House Bill No. 7137,” he said.

“The birthday of the one who has arrogated and abused power, defiled human rights, and betrayed the people’s trust must not be celebrated by a legislated holiday,” Lagman added.
Bayan Muna Rep. Eufemia Cullamat also voted no to the proposed measure.

“Anong klaseng pagiisip nito na dapat kailangan pagdiwang ang isang magnanakaw ng kaban ng bayan at mamamatay tao? Ito ay napakalaking kalapastangan ng ating kasaysayan (What kind of thinking is this that calls for the celebration of a plunderer of the country’s coffers and a killer? This is a big desecration of our history),” she said.

“Hindi nito nirerespeto ang hatol ng kasaysayan at ang mga biktima ng Martial Law ni Marcos. Hindi kailanman makakalimutan ng taongbayan ang ginawang kahayupan at kalapastangan ng panahon ni Marcos (This disrespects history’s judgment and the victims of Marcos’ Martial Law. The people will never forget the atrocities and abuses of the Marcos regime),” Cullamat added.

Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite, for his part, stressed that the proposed bill was an injustice to Marcos’ victims.

“Isang malaking injustice ito sa mga pinaslang, ikinulong, mga human rights victims noong panahon ng diktadurya na ngayon ay parang nakalimutan na sa kasaysayan (This is a big injustice to those who were killed, detained, and those who became human-rights victims during the time of the dictatorship that we are now seemingly forgetting),” he said.
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate, meanwhile, urged the public to oppose this historical revisionism.

“Huwag nating hayaan itong itinutulak na rebisyonismo na gustong pabanguhin ang pangalan ng mga Marcos (Let us not allow this revision they are pushing just to change the image of the Marcoses),” he said.

“Naitala na sa kasaysayan na si Marcos ay hindi bayani, siya ay diktador, siya ay mandarambong, siya ay mamamatay-tao at hindi ito mabubura lamang sa pamamagitan ng ganitong paglalabas ng isang batas na i-celebrate ang kanyang birthday as Marcos Day kahit sabihin natin na sa isang probinsya lang yan (It was written in history that Marcos is no hero, he’s a dictator, he’s a plunderer, he’s a murderer and this can’t be easily erased merely by issuing a law that will celebrate his birthday as Marcos Day, even if we say it is just in the province),” Zarate added.

Karapatan and Kabataan Partylist likewise slammed the bill.

“The bill seeks to deodorize the image of a murderer, a plunderer and a criminal. It is a grave disgrace to the memory of martial law victims and survivors, who have been violated many times over by the Marcos dictatorship,” said Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay in a statement.

Meanwhile, Kabataan Partylist said: “Tila nakalimutan na ng [197] na kongresistang pumanig sa panukalang batas na ito ang daang-daang tao na pinatay, inaresto, pinahirapan, at naging desaparecidos noong panahon ng Martial Law (It seems like the [197] legislators who sided with this bill have forgotten the hundreds of people who were murdered, arrested, tortured, and who became desaparecidos during Martial Law).”

“Walang pagsidlan ang galit ng mga kabataan sa pagsampal ng ating Kongreso sa alaala ng mga mamamayang nasawi noong panahon ng pamamasista ng diktadurang Marcos; mga kabataang makabayan na nagbuwis ng buhay (The youth is boiling with anger at Congress for dishonoring the memory of our countrymen who died during the Marcos dictatorship; patriotic youth who lost their lives),” it added.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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