A government-funded museum devoted to the martial law experience in the Philippines is expected to rise in the Diliman, Quezon City campus of the University of the Philippines.
The edifice with a grotesque architectural design is supposed to remind future generations of Filipinos about the excesses allegedly committed by the military establishment during the strongman administration of President Ferdinand Marcos (1972-1986).
It will have a section devoted to the star prisoner of the martial law government — the late Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. — which includes a replica of his detention cell at Fort Bonifacio and the military van in which his body was put into after he was assassinated in 1983 at the tarmac of the international airport in Pasay City that now bears his name.
The bulk of the museum space will be a memorial mostly for local communists killed in armed encounters with military operatives.
A tour of the museum will end with a villainous portrayal of President Marcos in a stupefying gallery praising President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino for seizing power in February 1986.
There are legal impediments to locating the museum inside the UP campus, but that will be discussed in another issue of this newspaper.
What must be emphasized right now is that the museum will be a biased narrative of what took place during the martial law years. That’s historical revisionism by omission.
The museum will not mention that years prior to the imposition of martial law in September 1972, local communists led by Jose Ma. Sison were promoting massive unrest in Manila in order to overthrow the duly constituted government and replacing it with a communist state subservient to Sison’s masters in Red China.
It will also omit mentioning that before martial law was imposed, local communists infiltrated colleges and universities, labor unions and peasant groups, and that students activists, labor union hirelings and organized farmers took to the streets near Malacañang to burn vehicles, throw explosives everywhere, and break store windows and street lamps, while waiving red flags of the New People’s Army and chanting communist mantras praising Mao Zedong of Communist China.
The museum will not mention that communism is a godless ideology and that martial law derailed the communist timetable for toppling the government because many top communists were either arrested or managed to escape to the mountains.
During the months preceding martial law, Padre Damaso’s successors in the Philippines led by Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin stood by silently while violent anti-government demonstrations were taking place. That notwithstanding, Friar Sin and his brood will be praised only toward the end of the museum’s galleries.
The museum will not acknowledge the positive aspects of martial law. Under martial law, President Marcos created the now sought-after awards for national artists and national scientists. The 13th-month pay workers now enjoy is a right established by a presidential decree signed by the strongman.
Likewise, under martial law, Marcos completed the construction of government hospitals like the Heart Center, Lung Center, Kidney Center, and the Children’s Hospital, all in Quezon City, and the high-rise annex of the Philippine General Hospital in Manila. Most presidents after Marcos have no public hospitals constructed during their terms.
The museum will not mention that in 1980, President Marcos allowed Ninoy Aquino to travel to the United States for a triple-heart bypass surgery that saved the senator’s life.
Also, the museum will ignore that the mass media industry in the Philippines was nationalized during martial law.
Nobody should expect the martial law museum to acknowledge that the February 1986 Revolution that allowed Mrs. Aquino to seize power was bloodless because Marcos refused to allow soldiers loyal to him to attack the people gathered at EDSA, and that Marcos chose to step down from power peacefully rather than put his countrymen in harm’s way.
The fact that President Marcos’ daughter Imee Marcos won and Ninoy Aquino’s nephew and namesake Paolo Benigno Aquino IV lost in the 2019 senatorial elections will not be mentioned in the museum.
Because it is one-sided, the martial law museum should be called a communist propaganda center engaged in historical revisionism by omission.