Aquino: We should not believe how Enrile revises history

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Former President Benigno Aquino III. (Photo by JL JAVIER)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — Former President Benigno Aquino III urged the public not to believe former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile's attempts to revise the country's history.

"Medyo may edad na si Senator Enrile pero hindi naman pwedeng gawing dahilan yun para maniwala tayo dun sa gusto niyang pagbabago ng katotohanan," Aquino told reporters after a mass with opposition figures on Friday.

[Translation: Senator Enrile is old but it's no excuse for us to believe in parts of history he wants to change.]

A video by former senator and defeated vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos surfaced Thursday night, the eve of the 46th anniversary of  the declaration of martial law by his late father and former strongman Ferdinand Marcos,  in the country.

In the video, Enrile — who was defense minister in 1972 — said there were no human rights violations, killings, detention, and cronyism during the Marcos rule.

"Name me one person that was arrested because of political or religious belief during that period. None," he dared. 

In his response, Aquino challenged Enrile's claim. 

He referred to Republic Act 10368 creating the Human Rights Victims Claims Board which processed compensation claims of people who suffered from atrocities under the Marcos regime.

"Merong batas na human rights compensation bill na binabayad sa lahat ng biktima noong human rights abuses noong panahon ng batas militar," Aquino pointed out. "Pwede nating unawain pero pasensiya na. 'Yung totoo 'yung totoo at ang pambobola ay pambobola pa rin."

[Translation: There is a law giving compensation to the victims of human rights abuses during the time of martial law. We can understand him but I'm sorry, what is true is true, and what is not, is not.]

Both the young Marcos and Enrile were members of the Senate when the law was passed in 2013. The law allowed compensation for 11,103 victims of human rights abuses under the 20-year rule of the Marcos administration.

Aquino, only son of former President Corazon "Cory" Aquino and former Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, also slammed Enrile for his attacks on his mother's performance as head of state.

"He was part of the misrule for such a long time so I think he's not the expert in terms of governance," he said.

Ninoy Aquino was a staunch Marcos critic who was assassinated in 1983 when he arrived in Manila from self-imposed exile in the United States. His murder triggered a people power revolt that toppled Marcos who was widely blamed for the killing.  Corazon Aquino assumed power after Marcos fell.

Are millennials the target of historical revisionism?

Former Commission on Human Rights head and martial law victim Etta Rosales dismissed the video as mere dramatics.

"Pinakinggan ko nga. Hindi ako makapaniwala," she told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: I listened to it and I couldn't fathom it.]

She accused Marcos of trying to rewrite history to firm up his family's return to power.

The former senator lost to Vice President Leni Robredo, a member of the Liberal Party, in the 2016 elections, but has filed a protest challenging the results.   His mother has a congressional seat, while his sister, Imee, is governor of Ilocos Norte believed to be interested in making a run for a Senate seat next year.

"It's a lame and pathetic effort to try and counter the emerging forces from the young people who are pursuing truth and justice with respect to what happened during martial law," Rosales pointed out.

Another Marcos political detainee, former Senate President Aquilino "Nene" Pimentel, also had a message to millennials who might be confused about what really happened in the country during martial law.

"You must always remember that the end never justifies the means. Ang ganda ng mga daan, aspaltado [The roads have asphalt], but you kill people in the process? Deprive them of their liberty? Hindi pupwede yun [That's not okay]," he said.

To Marcos supporters saying that martial law was good for the economy, Pimentel had this to say, "There were demonstrations here. May kaguluhan [There was unrest] but it does not mean that the entire nation should have been placed under martial law. The declaration of martial law need not be done nationally, doon lang sa may gulo [only in the affected areas]."