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Senate committee to endorse bill honoring dictator with holiday

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A senate committee on Monday adopted in principle a House bill that seeks to declare Sept. 11 as a special nonworking holiday to remember the birth of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos.

Roughly 3,000 people died and thousands more were tortured when Mr. Marcos suspended elections and declared martial law in the 1970s.

Eight members of the Senate local government committee Senators Francis N. Tolentino, Sherwin T. Gatchalian, Cynthia A. Villar, Christopher Lawrence T. Go, Ronald M. de la Rosa, Emmanuel Joel J. Villanueva, Maria Lourdes Nancy S. Binay and Marcos daughter Imee R. Marcos attended the virtual hearing.

Ms. Binay on Wednesday said she does not support the measure and had left the hearing by the time the panel voted.

“I wish to reiterate that I did not vote for the approval of the bill and will not support any bill that would cause historical revisionism,” she said in a statement.

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“It would be inappropriate to honor a tyrant and a thief,” Senator Francis N. Pangilinan, a committee member, said in a statement on Monday.

He said Congress passed a bill in 2013 that allotted P10 billion in payments to thousands of Marcos human rights victims, “recognizing the widespread abuses and atrocities committed by the Marcos regime.”

The fund was taken from the Marcos family’s ill-gotten wealth recovered by the government. “The amount of P10 billion was declared as ill-gotten by no less than our Supreme Court,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

He also asked why the bill was being pushed while the country was battling a coronavirus pandemic.

Congressmen approved the bill on final reading on Sept. 2, with 197 yes and seven no votes, and one abstention. A similar bill hurdled the previous House of Representatives but was not approved by the Senate.

Ilocos Norte Rep. Angelo Marcos Barba, the dictator’s nephew, told senators the province, the dictator’s hometown, had always dedicated a week to celebrate his birthday. The committee tackled nine other local holiday bills. 

He said the proposed holiday is seen to boost tourism and create jobs in the region. If enacted, Sept. 11 will be called “President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Day.”

In 2017, President Rodrigo R. Duterte issued a proclamation declaring Sept. 11 a special nonworking holiday in Ilocos Norte to remember Mr. Marcos’s birth centennial.

He also allowed the dictator to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City near the capital after the Supreme Court in 2016 ruled this was legal.

About 3,200 people died, 70,000 were jailed and 35,000 were tortured during Mr. Marcos’s two-decade rule, according to American historian Alfred W. McCoy. Charmaine A. Tadalan

NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the eight senators, including Ms. Binay, had all agreed to adopt the Marcos holiday bill.

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