San Francisco Chronicle

Justice still elusive over Marcos-era abuses

- By Jim Gomez Jim Gomez is an Associated Press writer.

MANILA — Survivors of torture and other atrocities under Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos on Wednesday marked his martial law declaratio­n 50 years ago by pressing their demand for justice and apology from his son — now the country's president in a stunning reversal of fortunes for the once reviled family.

Activists held street protests, a musical concert and unveiled a documentar­y at the state-run University of the Philippine­s. They say the manifestat­ions were aimed at preventing a repeat of the abuses and plunder that began after Marcos imposed martial law in the Philippine­s in September 1972, a year before his term was to end.

The dictator was ousted in an army-backed “People Power” uprising in 1986 and died three years later in U.S. exile without admitting any wrongdoing, including accusation­s that he, his family and cronies amassed an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion while he was in power.

His son, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., who took office in June after a landslide electoral victory, delivered a speech at the U.N. General Assembly in New York. A small group of FilipinoAm­erican protesters hounded him and at one point managed to get close and booed him and repeatedly yelled “Never again to martial law!” as he alighted from a convoy and walked into a building with security escorts.

For many of the survivors of abuses under Marcos, now mostly in their 70s and 80s, the anniversar­y brought back the trauma and painful memories of fellow victims, who either were killed by state forces or remain missing.

“The scars may have healed but deep inside, the anger and the sorrow are still there not just because I went through this but because so many good and patriotic people died resisting the dictatorsh­ip,” said Judy Taguiwalo, 72, a former Cabinet official and women's rights activist who was jailed for two years and tortured in the 1980s.

Marcos Jr., 65, has said his father's decision to declare martial law, suspend Congress and rule by decree was necessary to fight communist and Muslim insurgenci­es. He also said that describing the late president as a dictator is “wrong” and denied that he and his family were whitewashi­ng history.

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