By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
A youth group has pushed for the revision of textbooks used by learners in schools to “give a more detailed account of the role of peoples’ organizations in anti-dictatorship” efforts during the Martial Law period.
For Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), textbooks “need revising” but not to cleanse the sins committed during Martial Law years.
Earlier, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, said textbooks used by students should be revised because “essentially you are teaching children lies.” He asserted that accusations against his family remain unproven.
While SPARK concurs with Marcos that textbooks need to be revised, they do not “meet eye-to-eye on the content that needs to be revised.”
The group wants history books to “give a more detailed account of the role of peoples’ organizations in anti-dictatorship” as well as the Moro struggle for self-rule during martial law period and the immediate outcome of the February 1986 revolt.
“Marcos is obviously looking after his own skin for his future political ambitions but he is unlike us,” SPARK spokesperson John Lazaro said. “We seek nothing less than the objective truth to move past the lies and gimmickry peddled by the ruling elite.”
For the youth group, the “sins” of the Marcoses against the people and the youth are “unforgivable.” Lazaro said that to this day, the Education Act of 1982, which “gave capitalist-educators a free-hand to raise tuition fees as they please,” is the “sole reason for millions who dropped out of school due to their inability to pay for an education.”
SPARK also argued that “no amount of textbook revision can match” the enactment of the landmark legislation of Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 which “recognizes the suffering of all Filipinos who were victims of gross human rights violations committed during the regime of his father.”
Lazaro pointed out that for the former senator to “hide behind the dismissed corruption cases” before the Sandiganbayan is “lame,” noting that the dismissal of cases “does not indicate innocence but the deficient preparation by the legal counsels of the government.”
Historians should ‘step up’
SPARK also urged historians to “step up once and for all” to “correct the misconceptions and expose the self-serving and shady narratives [of] both the Marcos loyalists and Yellow apologists.”
Authors, they said, “should not gloss over the role of ordinary people that formed the nucleus of the anti-dictatorship movement that toppled the dictator when most opposition leaders left the country and abandoned the struggle.”
For the group, among the “many historical events that could give students a better understanding of the tyranny under martial law” are the Jabidah massacre, La Tondeña labor strike, spontaneous noise barrage of 1978, wildcat strikes at the Bataan Export Processing Zone, and the Escalante massacre.
On the other hand, the group contends that “historical revisionism is not a craft monopolized only by the Marcoses.” SPARK claimed that the so-called “yellow opposition” has its “share of covering up what transpired once former president Corazon Aquino was installed into power.”
“Textbooks should also mention that the Aquino regime re-established elite democracy, wasting the opportunity to inaugurate a genuinely democratic government,” SPARK said.
“Aquino preserved, instead of dismantling, the grip on power of traditional political families, allowed the non-prosecution of human rights violators within the military and police and the disarmament of warlords.”
Lazaro also said Aquino “could have easily abrogated all unequal and unjust economic and political treaties” with the United States, including the dismantling of the U.S. bases in Central Luzon in 1986.
“Then, there’s also the case of the repealing the Marcosian Automatic Appropriation Law to cancel all foreign debt that were not spent for the peoples’ welfare but was pocketed by Marcos and his cronies but she instead upheld it.”
Lazaro also urged historians to discuss American political intrusion and economic intervention during the dark days of martial rule. “We as a nation will never learn from our own history if we keep on remaining mum on how U.S. imperialism enabled the dictatorship and how its lobbied policies and programs mangled our economy.”