SPEAKERS FROM different sectors of the society called on students to uphold democracy and human rights as they tackled the personal, political, economic, and religious aspects of Martial Law in the symposium organized by the Thomasian Debaters Council on Saturday.
Former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Etta Rosales reminded the youth of the value of their individual human rights in a country like the Philippines.
“Ang bawat isa sa atin ay may karapatang pantao na hindi kinakailangang isabatas sapagkat likas sa ating pagkatao ang ating karapatan,” Rosales said. “Ipagpatuloy natin ang paglaban para sa demokrasya, at ‘pag ginawa natin ito, […] hindi na mauulit ang Martial Law.”
A person becomes less human when his rights are violated and not enjoyed, Rosales added.
Malou Mangahas, one of the founders and the executive director of the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, urged the students to never forget the Martial Law atrocities through reading and active social participation.
“Bakit kailangang alalahanin ang Martial Law? Hindi siya simpleng personal na storya ng trahedya. Siya’y kwento ng bayan na nilapastangan ang due process, rule of law, at human rights ng mga mamamayan,” Mangahas said.
She also encouraged the youth to serve as agents of restoration to the society.
“[Be an] activist but also [be academically aware]. […] Hindi pwedeng isa lang. Makinig, makisalamuha, magbasa about Martial Law. Magbasa about current events sa ating lipunan. Ang mga kabataan ang nasa lugar para aralin ang nakalipas at silipin ang hinaharap,” Mangahas said.
Human dignity is of greater importance than the material contributions of the Marcoses, Hilda Narciso, founder of the Woman’s Crisis Center, emphasized.
“Ano ang alam niyo sa Martial Law? Ang sagot nila (youth) sa akin, maraming infrastructures, tahimik, at disiplinado ang mga tao. […] Bakit nagkaroon ng People Power Revolution? Ang takot ay naging galit. Ang tao o ang infrastructure? Kung ako ang tatanungin, mahalaga ang tao. Worth dying for,” Narciso said.
Thousands of Filipinos gathered at EDSA from Feb. 22 to 25, 1986, wanting freedom from then president Ferdinand Marcos who was later forced to flee the country after ruling for over two decades.
Data from Amnesty International revealed that there were approximately 70,000 people imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, and 3,240 killed during the Martial Law era.
Br. Romualdo Abulad, SVD, on the other hand, believes that President Rodrigo Duterte is different from former president Marcos.
The secretary to the provincial superior of the religious congregation Society of the Divine Word said Duterte is a president who believes in God and does not allow “hypocrisy and vicious culture to thrive” in wealth.
“Marcos used Martial Law to justify his actions. It is not an act of good will. Marcos desecrated the Constitution where he used it to justify the prolongation of his rule, the [killing] of his political enemies, and the plunder of the people’s wealth,” he added.
The symposium titled Diskursong Tomasino: The Martial Law Chapter served as the debut social forum of the Thomasian Debaters Council. F KRYSTAL GAYLE R. DIGAY and MARIA EDEN T. DINO