“I was a staunch oppositor of Martial Law. I am very proud of that. It is a badge of honor to fight the evil and indifference that ruled our land more than 30 years ago. I carry that badge up to today.
To my children, I tell stories of those dangerous days of student activism. I play to them the protest songs of the time. Kaya alam nila ang mga kanta nina Joey Ayala, Patatag, Noel Cabangon.
We have short memories of this recent past. We should always remind our people, especially the young people, that the freedoms they enjoy now were hard-won. People paid for their lives for those freedoms, and we cannot dishonor their memories by saying Martial Law was a good thing. It was not.
These were the realities of military rule: 3,257 killed, 35,000 tortured, 70,000 jailed, and about $10 billion plundered, of which only $4 billion has been recovered.
We should focus on accountability. Part of the reason why the Marcoses and their cronies are back is because the wheels of justice have been painfully slow. Those who killed and plundered must be brought to justice. We want a Truth Commission, similar to the ones in Argentina after the Pinochet dictatorship and in Germany after Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, so that not only institutions, but also individuals, who knowingly carried out illegal orders of torture and executions, will face the consequences of their actions. This is how we can make sense of what happened, of how we can face our children and say we have done everything we can to right the wrong.
As they say, ‘The beginning of the end of war is in the remember.’ Just as it is for tyranny and oppression. We will not forget. We will always remember.”