Philippine Alliance of
Human Rights Advocates

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Marcos’ conviction far from exorcising the Philippines of its martial law nightmare

Former first lady and Ilocos Norte representative Imelda R. Marcos has been convicted by the Sandiganbayan of seven counts of graft during her term in the cabinet of her husband the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos from 1965 to 1986. Marcos, 89, was sentenced to a minimum of 42 years in prison.

The judgement may be a cause for celebration if not for the pervading political environment in the Philippines which enabled the rehabilitation of the Marcos’ family legacy via the late dictator’s burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the running election protest of Bongbong Marcos before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal versus Vice President Leni Robredo, and the involvement of Imee Marcos in fraudulent purchasing transactions using tobacco excise taxes.

In fact the victory is temporary as the court allows for appeals and Philippine law disallows incarceration for elderly people. However the conviction sealed the truth in terms of the legacy of martial law during the rule of Ferdinand Marcos. It is a historical legal record that cannot be erased and cannot be denied. Victims of martial law have achieved another small measure of justice following the recent work by the Human Rights Victims Claims Board, pursuant to Republic Act No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, awarding reparation claims to victims of human rights violations under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos' Martial Law.

Following this judgement the government is called upon to revoke the hero’s burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani; pursue the filing of graft charges against Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos and penalize historical revisionism offline and online. Let no one in the Marcos family claim public office again. Let the education of children about martial law be truthful and inspiring for the youth to continue their vigilance and resistance to the resurgence of martial law.