Posts mislead on media coverage of revolution that ousted late Philippine dictator

·4 min read

Old footage of the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos appearing to instruct the military not to shoot protesters calling for him to step down has been viewed millions of times online alongside a claim it was never broadcast by the media. However, multiple media reports since the "People Power" revolution that toppled Marcos in 1986 have featured the clip or have referenced the event it shows. Historians told AFP the clip had been shared in a misleading context, as historical accounts indicate military units received but subsequently refused orders to attack the camp where protesters were gathered.

"ACTUAL VIDEO OF FERDINAND MARCOS DURING MARTIAL LAW THAT THE MEDIA HASN'T SHOWN BEFORE," reads the title of a video shared on YouTube on September 16, 2021.

The post's caption reads: "You'll be able to watch an actual video that the media has not shown. You will see the love of our former president to his constituents."

The video shows Marcos appearing to argue with his armed forces chief Fabian Ver while a group of journalists watches on.

From the video's 47-second mark, Marcos tells Ver to disperse protesters "without shooting them" despite the latter's objections.

Screenshot of the misleading post taken on July 18, 2022

Marcos was toppled following the mass demonstrations known as the "People Power" revolution that forced the Marcos family into US exile in 1986.

A massive social media misinformation campaign portraying the family in a positive light while ignoring the brutality and graft of the patriarch's rule swept his son Ferdinand Marcos Jr to the presidency in 2022.

The footage was also viewed more than two million times in posts alongside a similar claim on Facebook here, here and here; and on YouTube here and here.

Comments on the posts indicate some social media users believe the media suppressed the footage.

"Keep on showing the truth...these media people want us to be ignorant," one comment reads.

"That's how the media tailored history. Good thing the internet and the web have been made available," reads another.

The posts, however, are misleading.

Joel Ariate, a researcher at the University of the Philippines who has written about Marcos' fake war medals, told AFP the posts are "Marcos propaganda" and "lack context".

Ariate said historical accounts indicate "military units were ordered to attack Camp Crame" but subsequently refused to open fire.

News reports

Several Philippine television networks featured the footage in reports about the "People Power" revolution -- contrary to the claim in the posts.

The clip can be seen at the 10-minute 47-second mark of this television special about the revolution that was aired by local media giant ABS-CBN in 2001.

It was uploaded to YouTube on February 25, 2022.

The footage was included in the documentary "Batas Militar", which was aired by ABS-CBN on February 25, 2016.

A TV5 news report uploaded to YouTube here on February 26, 2016 included the footage, as did this report by GMA that was posted to YouTube on February 24, 2017.

A report published on February 24, 1986 by US newspaper The Washington Post here references the event shown in the footage.

The report states in part: "Before the government lost control of the television station, Marcos made his declaration of a state of emergency during a joint appearance with his armed forces chief of staff, Gen. Fabian Ver, in which the two men engaged in an extraordinary argument on national television.

"Ver badgered the president to allow him to call in air strikes on the camp with two F5 planes that were circling overhead. Marcos refused, telling Ver to disperse civilians gathered outside the camp without shooting them."

State media coverage

Keyword searches on Google found the footage in the posts corresponds to this YouTube video titled "Press Conference of President Ferdinand Marcos on February 24, 1986".

The video was uploaded on February 22, 2016 by the Official Gazette -- the Philippine government's official journal.

"Marcos postured on TV appearing to restraint Gen. Ver saying 'My order is to disperse without shooting them.' Minutes later, President Marcos gives the kill order to Gen. Ver and attack Camp Crame," the description reads.

Demonstrators surrounded Camp Crame -- the national headquarters of the Philippine police -- and the adjacent Camp Aguinaldo to support officials who had defected from Marcos' government, according to the Official Gazette.

Francis Gealogo, a history professor at the Ateneo De Manila University, told AFP: "The post may be misleading and the Official Gazette may reflect a clearer picture on what transpired off camera."

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