Project Gunita et al.: ‘The truth will outshine the lies’

Project Gunita
President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. during interview of Sarah Ferguson of Australian Broadcasting Corp. —ABC VIDEOGRAB

The academic organization Project Gunita and dozens of groups and individuals, including victims of rights violations during martial law, are taking President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to task for distorting facts about the dictatorial rule of his father and namesake in a March 4 interview with ABC News Australia.

“President Marcos has yet again tried to lie his way out of questions concerning his family’s brutal dictatorship and its legacy. He even laughed at the question about his family’s plunder of Philippine wealth, in effect insulting the impoverished Filipino people,” they said in a joint public statement.

Sarah Ferguson —ABC VIDEOGRAB

“We ask the same question to [him]: What was so funny about it?” they said, referring to the question of his interviewer, ABC anchor Sarah Ferguson—“May I just ask you why that’s funny?”—when he laughed in response to her query: “I think contemporary court judgments acknowledge the atrocities that were committed, but also the plunder of the country’s resources. Why wouldn’t you want all of that money back in the hands of the Filipino people?”   

The President flew home from that visit to Australia—his first of two this month—with Malacanang announcing that he had clinched some $1.53 billion worth of investments on top of strengthening ties with the Philippines’ economic and defense ally in the Indo-Pacific region. 

When he arrived at the Australian Parliament to deliver a speech, he was greeted by a pocket protest clamoring for justice for human rights abuses, with Sen. Jordon Steele-John joining the demonstrators. Inside, Sen. Janet Rice flashed a poster that read “Stop the human rights abuses” before she was escorted out.  


In the interview with Ferguson, Mr. Marcos defended his father’s regime, describing it as a “different sort of authoritarian rule’’ that fostered the “participation of all stakeholders.”

Project Gunita and the other signatories refuted this and said the ratification of the 1973 Constitution during Marcos Sr.’s watch was “bogus.”

They said it was ratified through “fake” citizens’ assemblies in which the people were asked the single question of whether they wanted rice. Also, they said, delegates to the constitutional convention who proposed a ban on a third term for Marcos Sr. were “jailed” and the rest were “threatened to play ball—or else.”

Besides, they added, the Supreme Court was “shackled,” with then Chief Justice Enrique Fernando “affirming the legal scaffolding of the dictatorship” in court decisions. 

Congress was shut down in 1972, they pointed out.

Project Gunita and the other signatories said protesters against fraud in the Interim Batasang Pambansa elections in 1978 were jailed, and voters who boycotted the “fraudulent” presidential election in 1981 ended up being “picked up” or “murdered.”

They bristled at Mr. Marcos’ claim that the peace and order situation “really dictated the necessity for the declaration of martial law.”

They said Marcos Sr. had been “flirting with the idea” of declaring martial law since 1970, “even under false pretext to perpetuate himself in power.”

“Lest we forget, the very ambush on Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile on Sept. 22, 1972 was fake. Mr. Enrile himself admitted this during the 1986 Edsa uprising,” they said, referring to the bloodless people’s revolt that ousted Marcos Sr. and catapulted Corazon Aquino to the presidency.  

They said that had the revolt not happened, the strongman and then Armed Forces chief Gen. Fabian Ver would have gone ahead with “Oplan Everlasting” that entailed Marcos Sr. inaugurating a fourth term, reimposing martial law, and ordering the roundup of members of the opposition, journalists and activists for eventual detention on Caballo Island.

“Was this the ‘peace and order’ problem that his son describes?” they said.


Responding to the President’s claim that “wars were declared on the government” during his father’s watch, Project Gunita and the other signatories said the dictator wove a “fictitious tale of a ‘left-and-right conspiracy’ to justify martial law.”

“Martial law was a war by the Marcos dictatorship against the Filipino people,” they said. 

They named engineering student Archimedes Trajano, Arsenio “Archie” Toribio and Luis “Boyet” Mijares (a son of former Marcos Sr. aide Primitivo Mijares, who wrote “The Conjugal Dictatorship”) as among the thousands killed during martial law.

Project Gunita and the other signatories debunked Mr. Marcos’ assertion that the cases of ill-gotten wealth filed against members of the Marcos family were “shown to be untrue.”

They cited five court rulings against the Marcoses—including one as recent as 2018 when the antigraft court Sandiganbayan found former first lady Imelda Marcos guilty of seven counts of graft involving $200 million in Swiss bank deposits. 

From 1986 to 2021, the Presidential Commission on Good Government recovered P174 billion worth of ill-gotten wealth, consisting of paintings, jewelry and bank deposits accumulated by the Marcoses, they said.

They pointed out that contrary to Mr. Marcos’ claim that everything was taken from them, the strongman and his family brought nearly $1 billion in assets to Hawaii in 1986. The government has yet to recover P125 billion more from the “stolen Marcos loot,” they said.

“The world knows—and remembers—what truly happened. Many Filipinos still remember the dark memories of the 20-year Marcos dictatorship. The struggle against historical distortion may be an uphill battle when the dictator’s son sits in Malacañang, but the truth will outshine the lies of the second Marcos regime,” they said. 

Apart from Project Gunita and 35 other organizations, the statement was also signed by Loretta Ann Rosales, Teddy Casiño, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Neri Colmenares, Satur Ocampo, Vergel Santos, Fr. Robert Reyes, Aurora Parong, Xiao Chua, Luke Espiritu, Sr. Ma. Liza Ruedas and Rev. Gerardo Alminaza, among many others.

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