MANILA (Sept. 13) — Survivors of martial law are insulted and progressive artists and teachers are enraged after the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) paid a tribute to former first lady Imelda Marcos, the founder of the center.
Entitled “Seven Arts, One Imelda,” the invitational gala event was held Friday, 8 p.m. at the CCP’s Tanghalang Nicanor Abelardo. According to a press release on the CCP website, the tribute “extols the seven arts through signature pieces created during the period of Imelda’s patronage.” The tribute is one of the highlights of the CCP’s celebration of its 40th anniversary.
The tribute also coincided with the birthday of Imelda’s husband, Ferdinand Marcos, the late dictator.
Shortly before the tribute began, members of Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at para sa Amnestiya (Selda), an organization of political prisoners, and the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) held a picket outside the CCP grounds.
“This is a grotesque and irresponsible display of insensitivity to the Filipino people who suffered and have been victimized under Martial Law,” Marie Hilao-Enriquez, a martial law victim and secretary general of Selda, said.
Enriquez was imprisoned during martial law. Her sister Liliosa Hilao was the first woman detainee who suffered and died in Camp Crame in the hands of government agents during martial law.
In April of 1986, two months after Marcos was toppled, the Hilaos, together with other victims under Selda, filed a class-action suit against Ferdinand Marcos for his grave abuse of human rights.
In September 1992, the US Federal Court of Hawaii decided in favor of the 9,539 human rights violations victims and awarded the victims exemplary damages of US$1.2 billion and US$776 million for compensatory damages. To this day, the Marcoses have not paid the victims a single centavo for damages.
Romeo Luneta, who endured imprisonment and torture during martial law, said that although they have won the case against the Marcoses, justice has not yet been served. He said the Arroyo government, through the leadership in the House of Rep. Prospero Nograles, refuses to pass House Bill 3756 or the Compensation Act to Victims of Human Rights Violations during martial law.
“This tribute is a slap on the face of the Filipino people who are still fighting for justice from the Marcoses’ corruption, abuse of power and human-rights violation at the time when the Marcoses were in power,” Enriquez said.
Enriquez added that Imelda did not apologize for the abuses — including persecution of artists she did not favor — that the dictatorship committed. “A tribute by the CCP is in essence a tribute in the name of the Filipino people. How could anyone pay tribute to a human-rights violator, a monster such as Imelda Marcos?” Enriquez asked.
“I see here a collaboration between the Arroyo’s and the Marcos,” Luneta said.
In a separate statement, ACT national chairman Antonio Tinio noted that the Arroyo government has been persistent in its efforts to pay tribute to Imelda as a “patron of the arts.”
Tinio recalled that in September 2008, the Department of Education’s Center for Students and Co-Curricular Affairs invited Imelda to speak before hundreds of high-school student leaders at a conference in Baguio, where she was honored for her “contribution to Philippine culture and arts.”
“Why is this government using public funds and mobilizing resources to honor the surviving member of the conjugal dictatorship that robbed the Filipino people of their democratic rights and stands accused of plundering billions from the public treasury? Hitler was a known patron of the arts, but we don’t see the German government holding a gala night for him,” added Tinio.
“We condemn the Arroyo administration’s efforts to rehabilitate the image, social standing, and place in history of Imelda Marcos. As educators we are concerned about teaching future generations the right lessons from our past. Honoring Marcos is not the way to do it,” he added.
The Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) said that the Filipino people have nothing to thank Imelda, even for establishing the CCP.
“It is precisely when the institution transcends its origins as an extravagant, elitist and insensitive undertaking of a tyrannical regime that the CCP has its finest moments. Only an equally corrupt, fascist and puppet power clique like the Arroyo power circle can ever be obliged to pay tribute to a paragon of corruption, repression and moribund politics that Imelda is,” the CAP said.
The group actively joined other cause-oriented organizations in overthrowing the Marcos dictatorship in 1986.
CAP said further that the CCP tribute to Imelda is “another bleak manifestation of the festering crisis in Philippine culture and the arts.”
“It highlights once again that the dominance of fascist, feudal and colonial culture remains in our society, to the benefit of the utterly corrupt and intolerably oppressive like Imelda Marcos and the Arroyo regime, and to the detriment of justice, freedom, democracy and dignity for our people,” the CAP said. (Bulatlat.com)