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Marcos era a golden age? That’s the father of fake news, says Lagman

The biggest fake news of all is the idea that the regime of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was a golden age, a congressman and human rights lawyer said.

"The father of fake news is the lie of the Marcoses that the golden era in the Philippine history is the rule of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos," Albay Representative Edcel Lagman told GMA News Online last week.

Lagman's statement was in response to former senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr.'s claim that the Marcos family has endured "fake news" for the last 30 years.

"For so many years, the Marcoses have been the purveyor of fake news, including the revision of historical facts about the truth of the regressive, abusive period covered by Martial Law," Lagman said.

Lagman’s brother Hermon was a lawyer-activist who disappeared during martial law and remains missing to this day.

'Living testimonies'

A statement by Zenaida Mique, executive director of human rights group Claimants 1081, seemed to echo Lagman's sentiment.

"We, the survivors, are living testimonies to the atrocities and massive human rights violations during Marcos' dictatorship. So how can that be fake news?" Mique told GMA News Online.

Claimants 1081 is a group originally composed of the 9,539 individuals who filed a historic class action lawsuit against the Marcoses in a federal court in Hawaii for alleged human rights violations. The name comes from Proclamation No. 1081, the official name of the declaration of martial law in 1972.

The American court ruled in the claimants' favor, awarding them some $2 billion in damages, but this decision was rejected by the Philippine Court of Appeals in 2017.

In 2013, lawmakers passed Republic Act No. 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act, which rules financial compensation for claimants who are able to prove they, or their relatives, were victims of human rights violations during martial law.

Under this law, hundreds have received partial compensation, while tens of thousands of cases still await deliberation and resolution.

A representative from the Human Rights Victims Claims Board told GMA News Online they would "try their best" to finish deliberating the remainder of the 75,730 claims applications—almost four times as many as the crafters of the law expected—within the year.

However, no material amount can make up for the abuses of Martial Law, Mique said.

"Sa bahagi namin, sabi namin walang katumbas na halaga yung mga atrocities na naranasan namin nung panahon ng Martial Law," Mique said.

She added, however, that she appreciates what the reparations law stands for: the recognition of the "heroism of those who fought during the time of the dictatorship."

In November, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos apologized for “unexpected incidents” during her father's regime, but called on Filipinos to “move on” from the past.


According to a special report from GMA News Research, the high court has already forfeited in favor of the government some of the Marcos’ wealth in at least three decisions.

READ: 21 takeaways from the Supreme Court's rulings on the Marcoses' stolen wealth

President Rodrigo Duterte had said in August that a spokesperson for the Marcos family told him they were willing to return their ill-gotten wealth.

Former senator and vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos conceded there are "sporadic" talks about it, but both he and Imee said no agreement has yet been reached.

Mique and her group believe these statements as an admission that the Marcos family does possess ill-gotten wealth.

"The fact that they are now offering to return a 'portion' of their wealth is already a clear admission that they have ill-gotten wealth in their possession," she said.

To this day, debate about the Marcos dictatorship—Supreme Court rulings, national laws, and historical research notwithstanding.

Now, says Mique, groups like Claimants 1081 are now trying to fight fake news by reaching out to the youth about what martial law was really like. — BM, GMA News