Martial Law Films Only a Threat to Those Who Want to Hide Past Crimes

(Originally posted at GMA News Online and written by Joseph Tristan Roxas)

Films about the Martial Law era are meant to awaken the minds of the youth to the lessons of the past, and only those involved in atrocities during those years could possibly be concerned about them, a foundation dedicated to the memory of those who resisted the Marcos dictatorship said Thursday.

"We must be careful to distinguish whose interests are being damaged by the showing of such films," Bantayog ng mga Bayani executive secretary May Rodriguez told GMA News Online.

"The interest we think is in the favor of truth, to let the people really know what happened. It's a good thing that young people know our history," she added.

"What is harmed is the keeping of secrets. If you want to hide the crimes of the past government, then your interest is harmed by those films. Important na malaman ng kabataan ang nangyari. No, it's not a threat to national security," Rodriguez continued.

(Dekada '70 poster from Star Cinema)

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Carlito Galvez Jr. had earlier claimed that the Communist Party of the Philippines was recruiting students from several universities as part of "Red October," a supposed ouster plot against the Duterte administration.

Among the activities the military had pointed to as evidence of this is the screening of films about the Martial Law years.

The object of the activity, the military said, was to rouse students against the Duterte administration by likening it to the Marcos regime.

'Not subversive'

The Commission on Human Rights has objected to the characterization of such film screenings as seditious.

"[I]t bears stressing that film showings of Martial Law should not in any way be deemed as subversive, especially because it is a part of our nation's history and an established fact, the teaching of which is required by various laws and therefore, not illegal," it said in a statement.

University of the Philippines Diliman Chancellor Dr. Michael Tan was more blunt about the subject.

"Of course we show anti-Martial Law videos. And you consider that communist?" he said in an interview on News To Go on Thursday, adding that UP is a "free forum."

"Ang mga estudyante namin nae-expose sa lahat ng pananaw, lahat ng activities ng iba't ibang sektor ng lipunan. And now if that is seen as recruiting communists, wala akong masasabi dito," he said.

"We've been doing this for decades. There's nothing new about exposing our students to this."

(Mike De Leon's recent film Citizen Jake. Photo from the film publicity.)

Students' safety

On Wednesday, AFP deputy chief of staff for operations Brigadier General Antonio Parlade Jr. released a list of schools where he claimed the communist recruitment was going on.

Several schools on the list have issued statements both denying the allegation and pointing out that it could pose a danger to the safety and security of their students.

Rodriguez said that Bantayog ng mga Bayani will continue its support of film showings about Martial Law and its information campaign on the era's impact, especially now that the Ferdinand Marcos has been allowed to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB).

"Hindi dahil nailibing si Marcos sa LNMB ay hindi na makakalkal ang mga lihim niyang iniwan at mapipigilan ang pagsingaw ng mga bahong kanilang itinago at sinisikap pang itinago. Gising na uli ang mga kabataan at di madaling takutin," she said.

(Dukot, a film by Joel Lamangan. Poster from IMDB.)

Counter historical revisionism

Thaddeus Ifurung, national coordinator of the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto, also pointed out that the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act mandates the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education to teach students about the atrocities committed during Martial Law.

"It is but proper to study our nation's dark history so as not to repeat it again. And make it a constant warning to tyrants that the youth and the people are vigilant against any attempt to toy with martial law and fascist dictatorship," he said in a text message.

Ifurung said that the military's claim is only a ploy to curtail academic freedom and student protests amid the deadly war on drugs, widespread poverty, and the rising prices of basic goods.

Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (CARMMA) suggested that those trying to link the supposed "Red October" plot to these film screenings could be "apprehensive about the message of collective action displayed by the Filipino people who decisively chose to end repression and oppression by a tyrannical regime."

CARMMA and Claimants 1081 executive director Zeny Mique added that the screening of these films "are efforts by various progressive groups and sectors to counteract attempts of the Marcos family and their allies to revise our history." — BM, GMA News