3,257: Fact check­ing the Mar­cos killings, 1975-1985

The Manila Times - - OPINION - RACHEL A.G. REYES

3,257 is the num­ber of peo­ple al­leged to have been killed by - di­nand Mar­cos’ dic­ta­tor­ship, spe from 1975 to 1985. This widely to sup­port the ar­gu­ment that the mil­i­tary un­der Mar­cos was guilty of com­mit­ting gross hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, and that ter­ror and bru­tal­ity dis­tin­guished mar­tial rule. With the re­turn to po­lit­i­cal promi­nence of key mem­bers of the dic­ta­tor’s fam­ily, es­pe­cially his son, Fer­di­nand ‘Bong Bong’ Mar­cos, who is cur­rently seek­ing the vice-pres­i­dency, the ac­cu­racy has lately been cast on the sources the data on tor­ture, killings and dis­ap­pear­ances are de­nounced as fab­ri­cated or ex­ag­ger­ated.

How was this num­ber reached and just how cred­i­ble are the sources?

- is Al­fred W. McCoy, an Amer­i­can his­to­rian. McCoy is an em­i­nent - ver­sity of Wis­con­sin-Madi­son. He has pub­lished ex­ten­sively on the colo­nial and post-colo­nial his­tory of state re­pres­sion, the mil­i­tary, ma­jor books au­thored by McCoy - A Ques­tion of Tor­ture (2006), and In the lat­ter work, McCoy de­scribes in de­tail how mar­tial law en­abled forces to op­er­ate with im­punity and en­gage in sys­temic hu­man mur­der was the apex of a pyra­mid of ter­ror with 3,257 killed, an es­ti­mated 35,000 tor­tured, and some 70,000 ar­rested.”

Trained his­to­ri­ans cite their sources. McCoy’s sources are ref­er­enced in note num­ber 26 on page 618. They are: the New York Times dated 11/10/1986; Richard J. Kessler, Re­bel­lion and Repres hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions(1986). In the note, McCoy ex­plains the method by which he ob­tained the num­ber. He writes: “To reach Mar­cos, Kessler’s enu­mer­a­tion for 1975-85 is sup­ple­mented by adding 93 more ‘ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings’ in 1984 from data in Rev. La Verne D. Mer­cado and Sr. Mar­i­ani - monies…[page] 89.”

McCoy draws from a ta­ble that ap­pears on page 137 in Kessler’s book.The ta­ble is ti­tled ‘ Hu­man - pines, 1975-1988’. The ta­ble has gives the years, the sec­ond shows the num­ber of ar­rests, the third the num­ber of dis­ap­pear­ances, and the fourth the num­ber of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings. The num­bers shown un­der each cat­e­gory cor­re­sponds to each year in ques­tion.

of sim­ple maths. He adds up the num­ber of dis­ap­pear­ances recorded each year from 1975 to 1985. This pro­duces a to­tal of 737. The same is done for ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings. This gives a to­tal of 2,427. He then turns to the Tes­ti­monies book which states that, in 1984, the num­ber of “sal­vagings,” a word that came to - tra­ju­di­cial ex­e­cu­tion of in­di­vid­u­als by mil­i­tary or para­mil­i­tary forces of at 538 ie. 93 more than in­di­cated in the ta­ble shown by Kessler for the same year. We are now ready to do the sum: 737 (dis­ap­pear­ances) + 2,427 (sal­vagings) + 93 = 3,257

Skep­tics ac­cuse McCoy of us­ing data from bi­ased non-aca­demics. But McCoy’s prin­ci­pal source -- Kessler in fact ob­tained his par­tic­u­lar on the monthly is­sues of for the years cov­ered.

1974 by the well- known and highly re­garded Catholic body, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ma­jor Reli Among the As­so­ci­a­tion’s many ob­jec­tives is the pro­mo­tion of good governance and the pro­vi­sion of “moral and spir­i­tual sup­port” to whistle­blow­ers who stand up against the graft and cor­rup­tion of amrsp.ph/what-we-do/).

The Tes­ti­monies book is com­posed of af­fi­davits, tes­ti­monies, and wit­ness ac­counts from who knew mur­dered and dis­ap­peared vic­tims, or were vic­tims them­selves of tor­ture and il­le­gal ar­rest. These ac­counts were brought to­gether by the Black - vened by the Rev­erend La Verne D. Mer­cado, Gen­eral Sec­re­tary of the Na­tional Coun­cil of Churches Mar­i­ani C. Di­maranan, Chair of - pi­la­tion of the ac­counts were the re­sult of a col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­fort un­der­taken by sev­eral hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, in­clud­ing Free Le­gal As­sis­tance Group (FLAG), Hu­man Rights Desk of the Na­tional Coun and the Ec­u­meni­cal Move­ment for

Any his­to­rian or jour­nal­ist worth their salt ques­tions and tests the ve­rac­ity and ac­cu­racy of sources. How­ever, it seems to me of 3,257, and aim to dis­credit the sources by which it was reached, have mo­tives other than try­ing to get at the truth. Not only do they dis­tort his­tory, they in­sult the mem­ory of those thou­sands of peo­ple who were sav­agely killed.

3,257 is a num­ber that chills the blood.

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