A bonfire was held by constituents of UPD at the Sunken Garden on Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. to extol Sandiganbayan’s conviction of Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos for seven charges of graft.
The decision on the graft complaints filed against the wife of dictator Ferdinand Marcos was made earlier that day by the 5th Division of Sandiganbayan. The charges stemmed from Mrs. Marcos’ abuse of her Cabinet position as Minister of Human Settlements to siphon government funds into her personal Swiss bank accounts from 1968 to 1986 during her husband’s rule. In effect, the former first lady faces arrest, imprisonment from six years and one month to 11 years for each charge, and perpetual disqualification from holding public office.
Illuminating Diliman from that dark expanse and drawing faculty, students, staff, and passers by, the bonfire was peppered on its fences with petrified photos of Mrs. Marcos. A short program was held where student organizations and college councils expressed their messages of solidarity. Alay Sining, a cultural organization based in UPD, performed songs about the dark period of Martial Law and the role of unity in thwarting dictatorship in all generations.
Student Regent Ivy Taroma spoke on the role of the youth and the Iskolar ng Bayan in remembering the violations and atrocitieis of the Marcoses. “Ang pagbigay ng hatol sa pagnanakaw [ni Imelda Marcos] ay isang malaking tagumpay hindi lamang ng Unibersidad ng Pilipinas kundi ng mga Pilipino.”
USC Vice Chairperson Kisha Beringuela drew sharp contrasts between the lives of ordinary Filipinos and the Marcoses. “Habang nagpapakasasa ang pamilya Marcos sa pera ng taumbayan, libu-libong pamilyang Pilipino ang nahihirapan [makakain] araw-araw. Habang ang mga anak ng mga Marcos ay nag-aaral sa ibang bansa, sa mga pribadong eskwelahan, libu-libong estudyante, libu-libong Pilipino ang hindi nakakapag-aral.”
Also lauding Sandiganbayan’s decision and expressing their calls for social justice were All UP Academic Workers Union Vice President Ramon Guillermo, Kabataan Partylist Representative Sarah Jane Elago and former National Historical Commission of the Philippines Chairperson Maria Serena Diokno.
Speaking on the relevance of the event, Diokno said “hindi lang ito isang legal finding, isa itong katotohanang pang-kasaysayan. Nakumpirma ang matagal na nating alam.”
Diokno added that despite worries that Mrs. Marcos’ will not be jailed after all, the ruling is literally one for the books. “Ke makulong o hindi, mayroon tayong lahat mahahawakan na katotohanan, hindi lamang para sa kasalukuyang henerasyon, kundi para sa mga sumusunod [pang] henerasyon.”
The event was spearheaded by the UP Department of History and supported by the UPD Executive Committee.