As Ferdinand Marcos Jr appears to be heading for a landslide victory in 2022 Philippine polls that could see his family return to the presidential palace, posts have circulated widely online downplaying human rights abuses during his father’s tenure. , the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. These posts feature a video – viewed hundreds of thousands of times – which shows the former Marcos alleging that Amnesty International failed to visit the country and relied on ‘hearsay’ in its reports on abuses during his dictatorship. This is misleading: multiple historical accounts indicate that the rights group visited the Philippines at least twice during Marcos’s presidency. A human rights victim told AFP that she was questioned by the group when its investigators came to the country in 1975.
The video was shared on Facebook on March 3.
It shows Senate candidate Luke Espiritu making impassioned remarks about human rights abuses under Marcos.
Espiritu cites figures from Amnesty International that say thousands were killed and tens of thousands tortured and imprisoned during Marcos’ martial regime.
This clip is juxtaposed with old footage of Marcos speaking to the media in the United States on September 17, 1982.
The dictator has been asked to respond to an Amnesty International report which reports cases of torture, disappearances and illegal detentions in his country. Marcos said, “Well, I’ll tell you, Amnesty International never came to the Philippines. That’s why all they talk about is something they got, hearsay… “
The post’s caption repeats the accusation that the rights group did not visit the Philippines during Marcos’ presidency between 1965 and 1986.
A screenshot of the misleading Facebook post, taken April 6, 2022.
The post circulated online as Filipino social media exploded with support from presidential frontrunner Ferdinand Marcos Jr – son and namesake of the late dictator – driven by a massive disinformation campaign aimed at revamping the family brand and smearing his chief rival.
Critics and naysayers accuse Marcos Jr and his supporters of trying to portray his father’s two-decade reign as a golden age of peace and prosperity while whitewashing human rights abuses and the looting of communities. state coffers.
Similar videos with the same claim were also shared on Facebook here, here and here, and on TikTok here, here and here.
These messages are misleading.
“Researchers visited the country in November 1975 to carry out field research and interview president Marcos“, told AFP a representative of Amnesty International.
Keyword searches found that the results of the mission were published the following year here.
The report said investigators “did not anticipate the extent of the practice of torture against martial law detainees…more than 70% of prisoners interviewed by the mission said they had been tortured.”
Bonifacio Ilagan, one of the detainees mentioned in the report, told AFP that he was questioned by Amnesty International.
“This visit by AI to the ‘impregnable’ torture unit that was the 5th security unit of the gendarmerie was unforgettable… I certainly still remember that day when the two representatives of AI told me interviewed,” he told AFP on April 4.
The 1975 visit was mentioned in a human rights report published here by the US State Department in 1977.
“Amnesty International visited the Philippines in 1975. The report of the Amnesty International mission, published on September 15, 1976, details cases of torture and other human rights violations”, the report of the state department.
Amnesty International made another visit to the country in 1981, according to the group’s representative.
“In 1981, Amnesty researchers visited again to document other cases of torture, disappearances and murders that took place from 1976,” the representative told AFP.
The findings of this subsequent mission were published the following year here.
This visit was referenced in reports by The New York Times and United Press International published in 1982.
Both reports say Marcos then accused Amnesty International of not visiting the Philippines before preparing his report – a claim the rights group has denied.
Human rights violations
Amnesty International has estimated that during the period of martial law between 1972 and 1981, “some 70,000 people were imprisoned and 34,000 were tortured; over 3,200 people were killed”.
Human rights victims during the dictatorship are entitled to reparations under a historic law adopted by former Philippine President Benigno Aquino III in 2013.
Between 2014 and 2018the government paid reparations to more than 11,000 victims and their relatives.