SINCE the fall of Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, it has been an unchallenged dogma that one of the Martial Law period’s most horrid aspects was its human rights abuses. This again is another instance of that adage being proven true: “The victors write the history.”
The data even in an anti-Marcos book, Rebellion and Repression in the Philippines (Yale University, 1989) by academic Richard Kessler, however, show that human rights abuses during the Corazon “Cory” Aquino regime was just as bad as Marcos’ record. Ironically, Kessler’s data have been the basis of the oft-repeated claims by a more rabid anti-Marcos American historian, Alfred McCoy, that the human rights abuses during the Marcos regime were worse than those in the infamous Latin American dictatorships.
McCoy wrote, “Marcos’ tally of 3,257 killed exceeds those under the Brazilian and Chilean dictatorships.” That 3,257 number had become the most-used figure to allege the ruthlessness of the Marcos rule.
Quite ironically, Kessler presented his data in his book published in 1989, in order to hammer his point that that human rights abuses had not at all subsided even when Cory assumed power until 1988, the last year for which data was available. Continue reading