DR. Ambeth Ocampo, the renowned collector of historical trivia, again revealed his Yellow bias and unprofessionalism as a historian when he wrote in his column last week that an Amnesty International document declared the following, and therefore true: “From 1972 to 1981, some 70,000 people were imprisoned and 34,000 were tortured; over 3,200 people were killed.”
Obviously, Ocampo didn’t even bother to rebut my arguments made in three columns* in March — which he obviously read — that proved that alleged AI document to be fake.
That allegation was smuggled into a Sept. 18, 2018 statement written by the AI Philippine representative, an anti-Marcos activist for years, which was actually a manifesto of sorts against President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime, with those human rights figures during martial law, mentioned only as an afterthought in its “background” part.
There are absolutely no AI studies on the martial law period that had claimed those false figures written only in 2018 by the AI representative for the Philippines.
Those figures were rather concoctions made in the 1990s by rabid anti-Marcos American academics who wanted to portray that Marcos’ martial law was on the same level of brutality as those in Latin America. They swallowed hook, line and sinker the reports from entities they were not aware of or pretended not to be aware of as being Communist Party fronts, whose main propaganda tack was to portray the Marcos regime as a ruthless fascist regime, in order to recruit even those who were averse to communism.
The “34,000 tortured” was a figment of a US academic’s imagination, pulled out of the air. It was even way above the 2,104 that a communist-controlled conspiracy got the government to officially recognize as victims of torture and given compensation.
It is even triple the alleged “10,000 imprisoned, killed or tortured” during martial law that communist cadres alleged in a civil case in 1991 against Marcos, the figure vastly exaggerated to convince a six-man jury of mostly high-school Hawaiian citizens to award the “victims” $10 billion in compensation.
The 3,257 figure of those killed was from the communist-controlled Task Force Detainees, which reported to the world as “extrajudicial killings” and “disappearances” what were really mostly CPP, NPA and Muslim insurgents killed in battles with the police.
The anti-Marcos US academic was Alfred McCoy, who wrote in 1999, 13 years after Marcos’ fall in 1986, in a paper titled “Dark Legacy: Human Rights Under the Marcos Regime.” It was written for a conference organized by the Ateneo de Manila University “On the Legacies of the Marcos Dictatorship.” McCoy wrote what has become that exact Hitlerian Big Lie Ocampo repeated: “Under Marcos, military murder was the apex of a pyramid — 3,257 killed, 34,000 tortured and 70,000 incarcerated.”
The AI local office, which made that claim in 2018, apparently has been scolded by its higher officials for making such a false claim that its more recent article posted in its Philippine website (“Five things to know about Martial Law in the Philippines,” April 25, 2022) no longer mentions those numbers, even as it insists “tens of thousands of people arbitrarily arrested and detained, and thousands of others tortured.” It also changed its “70,000 imprisoned” figure to 50,000, since in the original AI statement in 1981 reported the lower number based on an actual mission.
Surfing the AI Philippine website, it has gone far left from the ethos of the AI which had been renowned for its objectivity and nonpartisanship. Even a photo on its website shows an obviously Red punk raising his clenched fist, with a sickle (as in hammer-and-sickle) above him. Has the local AI office been also captured by the Left?
Even if he is a Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist, Ocampo is an academic, and is bound by a higher standard of objectivity and intellectual honesty. Yet, in his column of May 25 last week, he merely repeated that Big Lie, claiming it was based on an AI study.
To prove that this was not so, but was merely smuggled in by AI’s local representative, I pointed out that the actual AI missions in 1974 and 1981 — i.e. when their researchers were actually here on the ground researching and interviewing people involved — nor any other subsequent AI reports never reported these “thousands of thousands” figures. The AI never estimated in all its reports how many were tortured or killed extrajudicially during martial law. The only statement it made, as in the 1981 report, is that it had received reports of tortures and “involuntary disappearances.”
Yet Ocampo gullibly believed that supposed AI statement, a no-no for professional historians who would have the knee-jerk response to first question the authenticity or validity of a document.
If there’s this AI statement claiming such ruthless levels of human rights abuses, a real historian would have asked and researched: “What is the basis of such a claim, what are the documentations for this?” But no, Ocampo is so gullible or intellectually lazy that he just repeated that lie in his column.
Obviously referring to the number of Filipinos who voted for Bongbong Marcos, Ocampo says “repeating 31 million times will never deny” what he claims is the truth of martial law atrocities.
The arrogance of this man. The truth is that a significant majority of Filipinos — 59 percent of those who voted — have judged, after being lied to through four decades, that he and even the 1,500 “scholars” who recently issued a manifesto against Marcos are at worst liars or people who had been fooled by the Yellows since 1986.
If there were indeed that many killed or tortured, many of those 31 million would have had a relative, a friend, or an acquaintance who were indeed such victims and would not have voted for Marcos, who would not have won by such a landslide.
There were indeed arrests (including me), killings, and yes, even torture, but these were mostly due to the war to topple government waged by communists (including me) and Muslim insurgents waged against government. Not mentioned at all in these noisy weeping over “martial law atrocities” is the fact that these two rebel groups killed 50,000 men in uniform — a figure 15 times more than the 3,250 “human rights victims” allegedly killed by Marcos’ troops.
(*The columns: “Most alleged ‘human rights victims killed’ were NPA and MNLF/MILF guerrillas“; “How Amnesty International was used for Yellows’ propaganda;” and “Fake news on detentions, tortures and killings under Marcos.”)
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