“We mark this day with our vow to continue the struggle – to oppose the official restoration of the Marcoses and efforts to overturn history.”
By MARYA SALAMAT
MANILA – The Marcoses most likely did not bargain for this – unleashing a horde of old and new protesters chanting against their return and against Martial Law’s legacy.
The Marcoses buried the ousted president at the Libingan ng mga Bayani amid tight security and national uproar last week. The hero’s burial ground was supposed to have been a stepping stone to Malacañang for Marcos Junior.
“The burial is just one of the stages – the endgame is reclaiming Malacañang,” Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes told the gathering at Rizal Park. Loud growls of protests greeted this.
The occasion was the second Black (Friday) Protest against the return of the Marcoses and the specter of Martial Law. Despite the rains that drenched the park, thousands came in black bearing their own placards, their own slogans and messages of protests against the Marcoses and Martial Law. For having allowed the burial of the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, President Rodrigo Duterte also did not escape the scorn of some protesters.
The program at the Rizal Park promptly began at 4 p.m. as planned. All over the country, as early as 7 a.m., other localized Black Friday protests against the return of the Marcoses and the specter of Martial Law were also held.
From old to young generation: Vows to continue struggle vs. strongman rule
Film director Bonifacio Ilagan set the tone of what the Luneta gathering turned out to be: a collective ceremony in which staunch members of the older activist generations and today’s young generation vowed to continue fighting strongman rule.
“We mark this day with our vow to continue the struggle – to oppose the official restoration of the Marcoses and efforts to overturn history,” Ilagan said at the Rizal Park. He and most of the next speakers spoke to a rapt crowd. They raised their placards, cheered, jeered, chanted and even shouted in reply to what were being said.
As Ilagan and the next speakers noted, the Black Protest gathered the older generation of activists, the middle-aged, and today’s young generation. It pleased the older generation to see the horde of young activists from various schools. As activist nun Sr. Mary John Mananzan said, the senior citizens are our country’s memory; the youth its hope.
“I see here the fruit of our education work. That our students are for the truth, and they have a resolve,” Mananzan said. She expressed gladness that even when they’re gone, the youth are here.”
“Yayao kaming payapa sapagkat ang mga kabataan ay ipinagpapatuloy ang pakikibaka,” (We will die in peace because the youth are continuing the struggle) Ilagan said.
He underscored the terrible implications of Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. “It heralds the comeback of the mindset that the people need strongman rule, that you cannot question the leader. That’s bullshit!”
The crowd roared in approval. They chanted in reply: “Marcos, Hitler, Diktador, Pasista!”
‘Moving on? Not by letting back the Marcoses or Martial Law’
To the Marcos family and loyalists’ statements asking the people to “move on,” to “forgive” and be open to “reconciliation,” the Black Protests countered: own up first to human rights violations, and return the money that the Marcoses plundered from the country’s coffers.
“Many of our people suffered because of the corruption of the Marcoses. Because they saddled the people with debts,” said Neri Colmenares, Bayan Muna Partylist president. He was a student leader “merely” demanding the restoration of the school paper that Martial Law banned when he was jailed for four years and tortured during Martial Law.
Like the other human rights victims present at the Rizal Park protest, he said we can’t move on if the Marcoses are not even acknowledging the ills such as the human rights violations of Martial Law and are even continuing to foil every attempt of the people to recover their ill-gotten wealth.
Given the sorry record of the Marcoses and Martial Law, the fight against their restoration “is not just a fight from our past but also a fight for our future,” Colmenares said.