Martial Law survivor to youth: 'No, you have not failed us'

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Judy Taguiwalo, a left-wing activist who was jailed during the 1970s martial law era of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, demonstrates with her supporters, after Philippine lawmakers rejected the appointment of her as social welfare minister, during a Commission on Appointment hearing at the Senate headquarters, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
Judy Taguiwalo, a left-wing activist who was jailed during the 1970s martial law era of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, demonstrates with her supporters, after Philippine lawmakers rejected the appointment of her as social welfare minister, during a Commission on Appointment hearing at the Senate headquarters, in Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines August 16, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Martial Law activist and former Department of Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said the younger generation "haven't failed" her generation after she received an apology from her daughter and other youth individuals after the electoral win of presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.

“I thank my daughter and all the young activists who wrote sorry to my generation who suffered under martial law; our generation who resisted and ousted Marcos, for “failing us.” But no, you haven’t failed us or our Inang Bayan. I have seen millions of you engaged in correcting historical distortions, exposing the crimes of the Marcoses, demanding accountability and an end to impunity.”

During the martial rule, Taguiwalo helped in organizing the progressive women’s group Malayang Kilusan ng Kababaihan (MAKIBAKA). Due to her critical stances and opposition to the regime, state forces detained her twice and subjected her to brutal torture while in prison.

A professor in the University of the Philippines Diliman College of Social Work and Community Development (CSWCD), Taguiwalo admitted that she expected the results of the elections but still hoped that the overwhelming campaign for Vice President Leni Robredo would be able to topple the then-frontrunner Marcos.

Taguiwalo details that different forces at play enabled the election to bring back the ousted dictator’s family back to Malacanang. She cited the campaign of “historical distortion, vote buying, a Duterte-appointed COMELEC, red-tagging and relentless attacks on critics and opposition” as a means for Marcos Jr. to return to the national seat of power after 50 years.

However, the martial law survivor remained defiant despite the Marcos win; she urged the people to continue to struggle for a nation where there is “economic and social equality and genuine peace based on justice.”

Taguiwalo adds that the peoples’ rage should be transformed into a force for justice and accountability. “We must continue to organize and educate ourselves and continue to reach out to the majority of our people. This election is not the end-all and be-all of our struggle for our country and our people. Remember, walang forever sa tiraniya (There is no forever for tyranny)!” she concluded.

Basti Evangelista is a news and opinion writer who focuses on Philippine national politics and sectoral issues. His personal advocacy includes press freedom and social justice.

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