September 20, 2021 | 12:00am
For nearly five decades already, cries against ill-gotten wealth cases that dragged on for years while delayed justice for the victims of human rights abuses during the martial law era in the Philippines still resonate across the country. Understandably so because there are still innumerable Filipino families still looking for their loved ones who went missing after being arrested during this dark period in our history. Nowhere to be found, they are the so-called “desaparecidos,” or people who disappeared during that 14-year period of martial rule in our country.
It was at 7:15 p.m. on September 23, 1972 when then President Ferdinand Marcos declared the imposition of martial law all over the Philippines. Invoking then the 1935 Constitution, the late President issued Proclamation No. 1081 effective on Sept. 21, or two days earlier before he went on air over government-run TV station. By that time, all other TV, radio and print media entities were closed down already by martial law implementors all over the country. In his nationwide address, Mr. Marcos cited what he described as rising “wave of lawlessness and the threat of communist insurgency” that justified massive arrests of opposition leaders, Marcos administration critics, student leaders and militant activists, and press censorship.
This marked the beginning of his one-man rule until he was ousted from power at the end of the EDSA People Power Revolution on February 24,1986.
By the time the Marcoses were driven out and flown to house exile in Hawaii, I was still a newbie in the journalism profession. My editors suddenly thrust me to cover Malacañang Palace and got to work with more senior reporters like Manny Mogato who works for another newspaper.
Fast forward. Mogato suddenly found himself a victim again of censorship. Using an alias Ricardo Dalisay in his social media platform Facebook (FB), Mogato’s account has temporarily been restricted since last Monday. According to him, he was banned from liking, sharing, and commenting on his FB. Moreover, he was not able to use his Messenger account, including making calls to his contacts. Perhaps, Mogato surmised, FB did not recognize his alias. Had he used his real name, FB would not censor a winner of the prestigious Pulitzer journalism. He won it along with American correspondents whom he worked with in a foreign news service about the reported extra-judicial killings in the anti-drug war of a sitting Philippine President.
Mogato suspected his account could have been reported by supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte whom he described “has gone crazy” for continued defense of what has been uncovered by the Senate investigation into the alleged “over-pricing” of pandemic supplies last year. Mogato particularly called out President Duterte’s threat to cut government ties with the international humanitarian group like the Philippine Red Cross. The presidential threat was directed against Sen. Richard Gordon, chairman and chief executive officer of the Philippine Red Cross and who also chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee looking into the allegations involving Duterte Cabinet officials and Chinese businessmen-cronies.
Last Friday, Mogato was back to FB – now under his real identity. “After almost five years in hiding in a fictitious name as a result of cyber bullying by ardent supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte, I have reclaimed my identity,” Mogato wrote. “There’s no use hiding in my fictitious name after Duterte’s followers reported my account en masse which led to a three-day suspension by Facebook for violation of community standards,” he declared.
Incidentally, his a.k.a. Ricardo Dalisay is a take-off from the policeman character in the popular “Ang Probinsyano” ABS-CBN TV drama series. That FB account no longer exists now that Mogato is “truly back” to his real identity.
And on his maiden post last Friday, Mogato talked about the current bashing in social media of entertainment host Toni Gonzaga on her now controversial one-on-one interview with former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Gonzaga featured the young Marcos on her YouTube “Toni Talks” show last Sept. 13. Five days later, Gonzaga posted in her Instagram a screen shot of her web show that generated almost four million views.
Mogato took up the cudgels for Gonzaga whose web talk program, he pointed out, was just a typical “celebrity” show that her bashers should understand. Satirical, Mogato advised her to just “stick to show business and avoid politics” next time. The bashers claimed their criticisms against Gonzaga supposedly echo the laments of “martial law” victims on the “whitewashing” on the “sins of Marcos” and their entire political clan, now back into power.
The attacks on Gonzaga actually targets the namesake son of the late martial law ruler who is now among the most probable presidential candidates in the coming May, 2022 elections. That’s why.
In a radio interview over the weekend, Bongbong turned aghast by the rabid reaction to a “neutral and professional host” of a vlogger such as Gonzaga. “You cannot dictate to her on the content of her channel. Her channel, her rules,” Marcos pointed out.
Bongbong also lashed out at critics accusing him of historical revisionism particularly when it comes to his portrayal of his late father. “Somebody quoted me saying: Do not let your hate overwhelm your humanity and this is a perfect example. Ang habol nga natin magkaisa dahil nasa gitna tayo ng krisis,” Marcos pleaded.
Unlike Mogato’s three-day suspension, Bongbong and his BBM (Bongbong Marcos) supporters have been “blocked” forever on FB, Twitter and other American social media platform. “Papaano, mga fact-checkers nila puro dilawan,” Bongbong deplored in reference to anti-Marcos groups.
Bongbong told us about this during my own tete-a-tete interview with him during my Kapihan sa Manila Bay virtual news forum that is also livestreaming over our own FB page. Fortunately, my interview was not that colorful enough.
Methinks, the real challenge is how we, as Filipinos move on from those dark days and learn from our own nation’s mistakes.