Congress should repeal Republic Act 10368, the law creating the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission. Under that law, the Commission is tasked to build a martial law museum, euphemistically called the “Freedom Memorial Museum.”
The museum will cost P520 million and will be built on 1.4 hectares of prime land inside the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman.
News reports indicate the UP donated the lot to the Commission. Another account has it that the UP merely lent the land to the Commission for a 15-year period.
There is nothing in the UP charter that allows UP to use its real estate to host non-UP political structures. UP President Danilo Concepcion and Carmelo Crisanto, the executive director of the Commission, have some explaining to do.
In 2019, the Commission spent P1 million in taxpayers’ money for the museum’s architectural design prepared by amateurs.
The museum will be a hybrid of an unsightly imitation of the Sydney Opera House, and a giant sandal. It will consume plenty of electricity for air-conditioning. The grotesque structure actually wastes a lot of valuable real estate.
Republic Act 10368 was enacted in 2013 during the term of President Benigno Aquino III. His father, the late ex-Senator Ninoy Aquino, is portrayed by the Liberal Party as the most famous “casualty” of martial law.
A newspaper report said the museum will be “the first state-sponsored museum that officially recognizes the atrocities committed during martial law.” If that is so, what the museum will be about is predictable.
The display will begin with the decision of President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. to place the entire country under martial law in September 1972. It will be made to appear that Marcos resorted to martial law to perpetuate himself in power, and to enrich himself and his family.
This will be followed by photographs and accounts of alleged human rights victims. Communists and red sympathizers will be hailed as victims and, therefore, heroes.
The assassination of Aquino at the tarmac of the Manila International Airport in August 1983 will be blamed on President Marcos Sr. and highlighted as the impetus for the 1986 EDSA People Power mutiny that led to Marcos’ ouster from Malacañang.
Ultimately, Corazon Aquino and Jaime Cardinal Sin will be portrayed as saviors of the people from the “Marcos dictatorship.”
Most certainly, the museum will be conveniently silent on certain important facts which do not sit well with the communists and anti-Marcos groups.
These facts include —
(1) Jose Ma. Sison’s Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) was already stirring civil unrest in the Philippines as early as August 1971 when its cadres bombed the proclamation rally of the opposition Liberal Party at Plaza Miranda in Quiapo, Manila.
(2) Ninoy Aquino, then a Liberal Party senator, arrived at Plaza Miranda only after the bombs exploded.
(3) Prior to the proclamation of martial law, the New People’s Army (the military arm of the CPP) had been receiving firearms and explosives from Red China for the purpose of preparing the Philippines for a communist takeover.
(4) The 1935 Constitution, the charter in force in 1972, authorized President Marcos Sr. to resort to martial law to save the country from communism, and that the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the proclamation of martial law.
(5) Actually, the 1973 Constitution was the product not of President Marcos Sr. but of the 1971 Constitutional Convention headed by ex-President Diosdado Macapagal, a known Marcos foe, who took over after the first elected president pf ConCon, Carlos Garcia, died.
(6) Newspapers and news magazines like We Forum, Ang Pahayagang Malaya, Who, Veritas and Mr. & Ms., as well as Radio Veritas were critical of martial law, but they were allowed to operate without censorship.
(7) Although a military tribunal sentenced Aquino to death by musketry in 1977, President Marcos Sr. stayed the execution and allowed Aquino to seek medical treatment in the United States in 1980.
(8) In 1984, the Agrava Board, the body which investigated the Aquino assassination, indicted the soldiers who escorted Aquino at the airport tarmac, but found absolutely no evidence to link President Marcos Sr. to the assassination.
(9) The 1986 EDSA People Power mutiny was peaceful because President Marcos Sr. ordered his troops not to shoot or hurt any of the protesters.
(10) President Marcos Sr. wanted to go back to the Philippines to answer the charges against him, but the government of Corazon Aquino refused to give him a passport, and the Supreme Court sided with Aquino.
(11) The criminal cases against Marcos were decided when he was prohibited from returning to the country, or when he had already passed away. In both scenarios, Marcos was unable to defend himself in court.
(12) Soldiers whose abuses were made known to President Marcos Sr. were tried and thrown in the military stockade.
It’s time for Congress to repeal Republic Act No. 10368.