Victims angry as Marcos approaches the Philippine presidency

Cristina Bawagan, 67, who was arrested, tortured and sexually abused by soldiers during the brutal martial law era of late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is photographed at her home in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, April 22, 2022. Photo taken April 22, 2022. (Reuters / Eloisa Lopez)

Former political prisoner Cristina Bawagan still has the dress she wore on the day she was arrested, tortured and sexually abused by soldiers under the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand MarcoThe brutal era of martial law.

Bawagan fears the horrors of MarcoGovernment would decline if his namesake son won the presidency in next week’s elections, a victory that would cover a three-decade political struggle for a family driven out by the 1986 “people’s power” revolt.

Also known as “Bongbong”, Marco Jr. benefited from what some political analysts describe as a decades-long public relations effort to alter the perception of his family, accused of living lavishly at the helm of one of Asia’s most famous kleptocracies.

Family rivals say the presidential race is an attempt to rewrite history and change a narrative of corruption and authoritarianism related to his father’s time.

“These elections are not just a struggle for elective positions. It is also a fight against disinformation, fake news and historical revisionism “, Leni Robredo, MarcoThe main rival in the presidential race, he told supporters in March.

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TSEK.PH, a fact-checking initiative for the May 9 vote, told Reuters last month that it debunked dozens of martial law-related misinformation that it claims was used to rehabilitate, erase or brown the discreditable record of Marco Snr.

Marco Field of Jr did not respond to Reuters’ written requests for comment on the Bawagan story.

Marco jr, who last week he called his late father a “political genius”, previously denied allegations of spreading disinformation and his spokesperson said Marco does not engage in negative campaigns.

bawagan, 67, called martial law victims like her necessary sharing their stories to counter the representation of the elderly Marcoregime as a peaceful golden age for the Southeast Asian country.

“It’s very important that they see primary evidence that it really happened,” Bawagan said while showing the printed dress that had a tear under the neckline where her torturer ran a blade across her chest and stroked her breasts.

Thousands of prisoners killed

the elder Marco ruled for two decades since 1965, nearly half under martial law.

During that period, 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured and 3,240 killed, according to data from Amnesty International, figures that Marco Jr. questioned in a January interview.

Bawagan, an activist, was arrested on May 27, 1981 by soldiers in Nueva Ecija province for alleged subversion and taken to a “shelter” where she was beaten while trying to extract a confession from her.

“I was getting slapped in the face whenever they weren’t happy with my answers and that was all the time,” Bawagan said. “They hit me hard in the thighs and beat my ears. They tore off my duster (dress) and caressed my breasts.

“The hardest thing was when they put an object in my vagina. That was the worst part and the whole time I was screaming. Nobody seemed to hear, ”said Bawagan, a mother of two.

“No arrest”

In conversation with Marco Jr. appeared on YouTube in 2018, Juan Ponce Enrile, who served as the late dictator’s challenge minister, said no one was arrested for his political and religious views or for criticizing the elder. Marco.

However, more than 11,000 victims of state brutality during martial law subsequently received repairs using millions from MarcoSwiss bank deposits, part of billions the family has stolen the coffers of the country e recovered by the Philippine government.

Among them was Felix Dalisay, who has been detained for 17 months since August 1973 after being beaten and tortured by soldiers who tried to force him to report other activists, causing him to lose hearing.

“They kicked me even before I boarded the military jeep, so I fell and hit my face on the ground,” Dalisay said, showing a scar on his right eye as he recounted the day he was arrested.

When they reached military headquarters, Dalisay said he was taken to an interrogation room, where soldiers repeatedly tapped his ears, kicked and hit him, sometimes with the butt of a rifle, during the interrogation.

“They started by putting the bullets used in a .45 caliber pistol between my fingers and they would shake my hand. That really bad. If they weren’t satisfied with my answers, they would hit me, ”Dalisay pointing to different parts of his body.

The return of the Marco ruling the country is unthinkable for Dalisay, who turned 70 this month.

“Our blood boils at that thought,” Dalisay said. “Marco Sr. has declared martial law so they will say that no one has been arrested and tortured? We are here talking while we are still alive. “

—Reportage by Karen Lema; Montage of Lincoln Feast

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