MANILA (Mabuhay) — The Marcos family should apologize for the implementation of Martial Law in the Philippines, President Benigno Aquino III said Tuesday.
“I’ve said that time and again and in so many decades, yes,” said Aquino when asked by members of the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) during their annual presidential forum held at Solaire Resort in Parañaque City.
“I’m also of the belief that we shouldn’t revisit the sins of the children on the parents [but] the start of the solution is the identification of the problem” he said.
Aquino’s father and namesake Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. was jailed during Martial Law and was assassinated on August 21, 1983. His mother Corazon Aquino, meanwhile, was installed as president in 1986 after the EDSA People Power Revolution toppled the Marcos government.
With Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. seeking the second highest post in the land, there has been renewed discussion about the Marcos family’s need to apologize for the late strongman’s regime.
“[If they said,] we apologize. We want to make amends; that I think would have been very acceptable. We are a forgiving people in general but we have statements that there’s nothing to apologize for,” said Aquino.
“If there is a denial of what happened, is that also a statement that there is no recognition that should be corrected down the line and therefore, is there a promise that there will be repetition of the same? That is our question,” he added.
Earlier, presidential candidate Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago said the Marcos family doesn’t owe the Filipino people an apology over Martial Law. Santiago had picked Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as her running mate in next year’s polls.
“I don’t think that on a family basis, the Marcoses as a family owe us an apology. In the first place, it was not the case that President Marcos the father pooled all the Marcoses in one table and they all decided jointly to do certain activities,” Santiago said at a news conference on Oct 16, the day she filed her certificate of candidacy for president.
“That was not the case…. This was all a result not of a familial discussion but a result of policy decisions of the executive department of the government—President Marcos and his advisers,” she added.
Aquino, meanwhile, said he is not worried about the idea of the Marcos family returning to power in 2016 with Senator Marcos running for vice president.
Asked whether he was of the view that there is a “resurgence of support” for the Marcoses, Aquino said: “No, no. I think the answer to that is very obvious. I don’t think so.”
“I have faith in my bosses, the Filipino people. There was nothing that has caused me to change the faith that they are able to discern,” Aquino said.
With Marcos’ candidacy, human rights victims who suffered during Martial Law made a vow to ensure Ferdinand Marcos’ crimes would not be forgotten.
Aquino noted that his administration showed that “the democratic system in this country works” contrary to how it was during the Martial Law era.
“There is a period in time that contrary opinions were not encouraged, that somehow they were involved in the periphery of. In our watch, contrary opinions are part and parcel and protected in the democratic space that we have managed to really strengthen within our watch,” he said.
Also during the FOCAP forum, Aquino was asked who he thinks was responsible for the assassination of his father.
“The bottomline is, there was a mode of governance existing in the country that allowed such a thing to happen and who was the principal of that mode of governance…Only one person’s interest and one group’s interest mattered above all else,” he said.
He said he was taught not to “speak ill of the dead” referring to the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
The chief executive added that the Human Rights Compensation bill signed into law in 2013 serves an “admission by the state” that “at one point in time, the government oppressed its people.”
Pressed further, Aquino said: “At the end of the day, the only thing being said is that one point in time, this government became the suppressor of the people instead of its servant.”
He said he leaves it up to the younger and future generations to study the history of Martial Law.
Ninoy was assassinated during the Marcos era after returning from exile. His mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, was catapulted into power in February 1986 after the People Power Revolution. (MNS)