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Defenders of historical truths

More than 1,000 scholars and educators based in the Philippines and abroad have issued an online manifesto calling for the defense of historical truth and academic freedom, as they expressed concern of escalating attempts to revise narratives about the martial law years and erase “traumatic personal and collective memories of plunder and human rights violation” under the Marcos dictatorship.

Oscar Campomanes, a professor at the Ateneo de Manila University and one of the initiators of the manifesto, said they would conduct activities resisting censorship like book-banning, while condemning all attempts at red-tagging.

“We want to bring out a strong statement in defense of historical truth against unrelenting efforts to revise the historical record of plunder and human rights violations during martial law and the entire Marcos era,” he said in a statement accompanying the manifesto.

The document comes in English, Tagalog, Ilocano and Cebuano versions and has gathered the signatures of some 1,200 individuals who identify themselves as scholars and educators affiliated with various higher learning institutions, including Ateneo, University of the Philippines, University of Santo Tomas, Siliman University, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, De La Salle University, University of Cambridge, Kyoto University, New York University and Queensland University of Technology, among others.

The document said the presumptive victories President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Vice-President Sara Duterte who is touted to be the country’s next Education Secretary, “signals an intensified struggle over historical knowledge and pedagogy, the erasure of traumatic personal and collective memories of plunder and human rights violation” under the elder Marcos’ regime.

They pledged to combat all attempts at historical revisionism that distort and falsify history to suit the dynastic interests of the Marcoses and their allies and to fortify their power. They also committed to safeguard the integrity and independence of education, historical and cultural institutions; as well as undertake to preserve books, documents, records, artifacts, archives and other source materials pertaining to the martial law period.

The Filipino nation thanks them for their service and hopes that they succeed in preserving that dark period of our history from any and all attempts to sanitize it because as the saying goes, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”*

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