Senator rejects bill honoring dictator with special holiday

senator rejects bill honoring dictator with special holiday - Senator rejects bill honoring dictator with special holiday

A SENATOR on Wednesday rejected a bill that seeks to declare Sept. 11 as a special nonworking holiday to remember the birth of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.

In a statement, Senator Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay said she had left the hearing by the Senate local government committee on Monday by the time the panel voted to endorse the bill to the plenary.

“I wish to reiterate that I did not vote for the approval of the bill and will not support any bill that would cause historical revisionism,” she said.

The committee approved in principle the Marcos holiday bill and nine other bills on local holidays upon Senator Sherwin T. Gatchalian’s motion. Senator Francis N. Tolentino, who heads the body, approved the move.

The motion sought the approval of all the measures subject to a technical working group that might look at the “wording requirements,” Mr. Tolentino said at that time.

Eight members of the committee — Ms. Binay, Mr. Tolentino, Mr. Gatchalian and Senators Cynthia A. Villar, Christopher Lawrence T. Go, Ronald M. de la Rosa, Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva and Marcos daughter Imee R. Marcos — attended the virtual hearing.

BusinessWorld had reported that the lawmakers agreed to adopt the Marcos holiday measure.

Mr. dela Rosa and Mr. Villanueva confirmed in separate mobile phone messages on Wednesday that they had not voted for the measure. Mr. Go had left the hearing after manifesting support for the bill, his legislative staff John Cyril E. Santiago said by telephone.

Roughly 3,000 people died and thousands more were tortured when Mr. Marcos suspended elections and declared martial law in 1972.

The Senate body has eleven members from the majority bloc, two minority senators and three ex-officio members.

“It would be inappropriate to honor a tyrant and a thief,” Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, a committee member, said in a statement on Monday.

He said Congress passed a bill in 2013 that allotted P10 billion in payments to thousands of Marcos human rights victims, “recognizing the widespread abuses and atrocities committed by the Marcos regime.”

The fund was taken from the Marcos family’s ill-gotten wealth recovered by the government. “The amount of P10 billion was declared as ill-gotten by no less than our Supreme Court,” Mr. Pangilinan said. 

He also asked why the bill was being pushed while the country was battling a coronavirus pandemic.

Congressmen approved the bill on final reading on Sept. 2, with 197 yes and seven no votes, and one abstention. A similar bill hurdled the previous House of Representatives but was not approved by the Senate.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, the dictator’s nephew, told senators the province, the dictator’s hometown, had always dedicated a week to celebrate his birthday. The committee tackled nine other local holiday bills.

He said the proposed holiday is seen to boost tourism and create jobs in the region. If enacted, Sept. 11 will be called “President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Day.”

In 2017, President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued a proclamation declaring Sept. 11 a special nonworking holiday in Ilocos Norte to remember Mr. Marcos’s birth centennial.

He also allowed the dictator to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City near the capital after the Supreme Court in 2016 ruled this was legal.

About 3,200 people died, 70,000 were jailed and 34,000 were tortured during Mr. Marcos’s two-decade rule. — Charmaine A. Tadalan

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