Presidential candidate and former senator Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s constant denial of the atrocities committed by his father’s martial law regime is not doing his campaign any good.
His claim that he was “too young” to recall any of the abuses of the martial law era was belied by the fact that he was already a young adult when he and his family were forced out of the country by the 1986 People Power revolution. He was then 29.
Marcos Jr. is now 64.
“You are not a millennial,” vice-presidential bet and current deputy House Speaker Lito Atienza told Marcos Jr. late last week.
Atienza said Marcos Jr. should not only acknowledge but also apologize for the atrocities committed by his late father’s regime.
An estimated 11,000 Filipinos were killed during the martial law era, with a good number simply disappearing without a trace after being picked up by the military.
Known as ‘desaparecidos’ or the disappeared ones, most were either communist rebels or suspected supporters of the underground movement. Some were simply critics of the Marcos regime.
Thousands more were picked up, detained without charges, tortured, and raped, but later released, among them a former member of the Duterte Cabinet, Judy Taguiwalo. The former Social Welfare secretary testified that she was not only raped multiple times but was also tortured with her private parts burned with cigarettes.
Atienza said Marcos Jr. can easily say that he did not participate in the crimes and vow never to allow the same to happen if elected president.
Atienza said the constant denials of Marcos Jr., as well as his sister Sen. Imee Marcos make them guilty of “historical revisionism.”
Sen. Marcos has said that the martial law era should be forgotten because “it happened a million years ago.”
Marcos Jr. has repeatedly said that he could not apologize for something he did not do. As for their fabled billions in ill-gotten wealth, he has also stated that, “I cannot return what I do not have.”
Atienza’s presidential running mate, Sen. Manny Pacquiao said it was highly unlikely that Marcos Jr. was unaware of what was happening during the martial law era.
Another presidential bet, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa, said Marcos Jr. should at least acknowledge that atrocities occurred during the martial law era.
It is not only the martial law atrocities that has been hanging over Marcos Jr.’s campaign. His record as a senator and his questionable academic credentials have also been brought up in media interviews.
During his single six-year term in the Senate, Marcos Jr. sponsored and passed only one bill which reset the date of the Sangguniang Kabataan elections. That bill was considered insignificant as it is the Commission on Elections that sets the date of all elections in the country.
But it is his claim that he graduated from Oxford University that has caused the Marcos camp problems. They have tried to explain away the denials of both Oxford itself, as well as Filipino graduates of the London-based university, considered as one of the most prestigious and expensive institutions of higher learning in the world.
Oxford University has posted a statement that Ferdinand Marcos Jr. never earned a degree during the seven years that he was enrolled there.
The Oxford Philippines Society comprised of almost 200 members also issued a statement on Facebook last week expressing their “concern” at the claims of Marcos Jr.
He was, said the Filipino graduates of Oxford, only awarded a special diploma in social studies.
“A special diploma is not a degree, and neither is it comparable, superior, nor equivalent to one,” said their statement.
A spokesman for Marcos Jr. said over the weekend that, “We stand by the Degree confirmation which was issued by the University of Oxford.”
Oxford first confirmed that Marcos Jr. did not finish his degree in 2015 at the request for confirmation of Philippine media, at the time when he was running for vice-president.
Marcos Jr.’s campaign is based on the premise that the Philippines under his father enjoyed a “golden age,” one that would return if he were elected president.