HUMAN rights campaigners and progressive groups on Monday held protests before President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr.’s first address to Congress, calling attention to accountability and pressing economic issues.
An estimated 5,000 protesters joined the multi-sectoral march along Commonwealth Avenue, according to the Quezon City Police District’s estimate.
Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon (SELDA), a group for Martial Law victims and survivors, said it joined hundreds of former political prisoners in seeking accountability for the human rights violations during the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr., father of the President.
“Marcos Jr. cannot claim that he is innocent and is off the hook from being liable for the violations inflicted upon us by his father’s bloody regime,” SELDA said in a statement.
More than 70,000 people were jailed, about 34,000 were tortured and more than 3,000 people died under martial rule, according to Amnesty International.
The group also slammed the anti-graft court Sandiganbayan’s recent decision allowing the Marcos family to present evidence in an ill-gotten wealth case.
“We are deeply concerned that this move is an absolution of the cases of corruption and ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses,” said Danilo dela Fuente, SELDA’S vice chairperson.
“We fear that this could be the signal for the halt in the recovery of the stolen wealth of the Marcos family, which are rightfully owned by the Filipino people.”
The Presidential Commission on Good Government filed the ill-gotten wealth case in 1987, accusing business associates of the elder Mr. Marcos and his wife Imelda of acting as their dummies to acquire ill-gotten wealth using state funds.
In 2003, the Supreme Court awarded the Philippine government $658 million from the frozen Swiss bank deposits of the former president.
The Philippine’s Highest Court ruled that only about $304,000 of the Marcos family’s income was lawful since they did not file any statement of assets and liabilities required by law.
The group said it will continue to seek accountability and reparations from the President for victims of human rights violations.
Meanwhile, progressive groups under the Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) coalition marched along Commonwealth Avenue as it called for Mr. Marcos to address rising prices of commodities, ensure environmental protection, and prioritize human rights violations.
Gabriela Women’s Party-list also held a protest urging the President to increase wages and to present concrete economic measures to the Filipino people.
The group said Mr. Marcos should employ measures to boost local food production to combat the hike in basic goods.
“No revisionism or lofty narratives can cover up empty stomachs and escalating prices,” Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene D. Brosas said in a statement. — John Victor D. Ordoñez