I’m in my 70s—and still in battle for the truth

We’re now just prayer and digital warriors against disinformation. Agencies must put seal of authenticity on unassailable truths of recent history

Illustration by Marx Rheinhart Fidel

We need to revisit the past in order to move forward, towards true unity.

The elections this time were not the usual political campaign. In a way, the 2022 Leni-Kiko campaign  was reminiscent of the 1986 snap elections in terms of the people’s enthusiasm and volunteerism. Significantly, Cory was against a formidable foe—the dictator Marcos Sr., and  Leni again  faced the dictator’s son (whom she defeated in the VP race) for the presidency.

Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has been proclaimed the 17th President of the Philippines with an overwhelming 31 million votes, and Sara Duterte, Vice President, daughter of the outgoing president, with 32 million votes. The numbers are unprecedented, with VP Leni Robredo trailing far behind with 15 million votes. (There is an ongoing signature campaign for citizen-led random recount and electoral reforms.)

As in the 2019 midterm elections, the opposition lost out in both Congress and the Senate. Only one opposition senator, Risa Hontiveros, won. What gives?

For most Filipinos, especially those who lived through Martial Law, the personal has become political. And after six years of fight for human rights and justice in the Duterte administration, this has become the fight for the future.

I know at least three in my immediate family who registered again to be able to vote. I also know four people from overseas who made sure they voted.

On election day, senior citizens painstakingly climbed three flights of stairs to make sure they themselves fed their ballots into the vote counting machines (VCMs), while others, young and old, waited for hours, some even overnight, to do so. They were determined to have their votes counted. Others who left their ballots to be fed to VCMs after the malfunctioning ones or SD cards were replaced will never know for sure if their votes were counted.

The ballot boxes in the last election were old cartons taped together, with no locks. Even the VCMs were on top of ordinary plastic boxes one can buy from the supermarket

One thing visibly different in this election were the ballot boxes. They were old cartons taped together, with no locks. Even the VCMs were on top of ordinary plastic boxes one can buy from the supermarket. Ballots fed into the VCMs fall into the plastic box. My son was surprised that when the VCM jammed, someone would lift the VCM and push the ballots down. How secure are the ballots if ever a manual recount would be needed? That’s why on the precinct  level, manual counting should have been done in front of the parties present.

The opposition rallies were mammoth crowds of pink with communities of artists (writers, singers, musicians, actors, painters, dancers) and other sectors and professionals (doctors, dentists, engineers, lawyers) giving it their all. There was a woman dying of cancer who came to the rally on a hospital bed. Her last post was her inked finger after voting.

I am in my late 70s, and a veteran of the “Parliament of the Streets,” the protest movement against the dictatorship. Now I’m limited to being a prayer warrior and a digital warrior, sharing what I can with relatives and friends, who might not have the correct information.

Yes, the race has been muddled by disinformation and fake news to this day—up to the presidential inaugural speech. It is a battle for truth.

Was it the “negative” campaign versus “unity” that did the opposition in? But the opposition was just putting out the truth, fighting disinformation.

The rewriting of the history of Martial Law has been happening for years on social media. Marcos supporters refuse to believe the media nor the fact checkers, accusing them of bias. Instead, they believe in the deception war waged by trolls and bolstered by the algorithm (you see more of what you like) on social media. No thanks too to DepEd for the limited martial law history in the curriculum. Will VP Sara Duterte, who is also DepEd Secretary, do something about this? Already efforts to preserve the history of Martial Law are being waged by historians and the academe.

There are testimonies of human rights victims/survivors, and the evidence from the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), Hawaii customs, Swiss banks, US courts and our own Supreme Court decisions. Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno has researched extensively on the Marcos years, with links to Supreme Court decisions in her Facebook account. Ruben Carranza, formerly with PCGG, also gave revelations on the so-called Marcos ill-gotten wealth.

But the Marcos family has consistently declared ignorance of the issues and cried persecution by those who post the truth—namely, the above sources. In his inaugural speech, President Marcos Jr. said we should not look at the past but to the future. His press secretary declared that history is “debatable”; a budding actress starring in a Marcos film declared that history is just “chismis” (gossip).

The future and the real unity of our country are at stake. To end the bickering and division in our society, there must be an unequivocal declaration of the unassailable truth on Martial Law, at least those truths with solid evidence in terms of human rights violations and economic plunder, and which everyone has no choice but to accept as fact.

I am not sure which government agency, with finality, can declare the truth once and for all.

I am just putting this suggestion out here so that it can be taken up by government agencies such as the Commission on Human Rights, the PCGG, the Supreme Court, and others who hold documents on the Marcos cases. Perhaps the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), the country’s agency in charge of historical matters, can put a seal of authenticity, similar to documents and works of art  stamped on certain documents and to be posted on the website.

The Filipino people deserve no less than the truth so they can build their future, not on lies or false perceptions, but on the truth and nothing but, so help us God.

About author


She is a freelance writer and editor, a former columnist, occasional poet, and frustrated cook and plantita. She writes about her grandchildren, women's issues and seniors coping with the pandemic. She is a reluctant "catwoman" (the cat chose her).

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