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Marcosian Atrocities: Historical Revisionism and the Legal Constraints on Forgetting

In: Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law
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  • 1 MSt (Candidate) (University of Oxford), Graduate Diploma (American University), JD (University of the Philippines), BA (University of the Philippines) Lecturer, University of the Philippines College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, raphael.pangalangan@new.ox.ac.uk
  • | 2 LLM (Candidate) (University of Sydney), Graduate Diploma (University of Sydney), JD (University of the Philippines), BSc (Ateneo de Manila University), gfer0133@uni.sydney.edu.au
  • | 3 Diploma (Candidate) (University of Peace), JD (University of the Philippines), BA (Ateneo de Manila University), rltugade@up.edu.ph
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The Philippines resoundingly cried ‘never again’ to the horrors of the Marcos dictatorship through the People Power revolution of 1986. Thirty years later, the Filipino people have come to realise that success is indeed fleeting. On 18 November 2016, the remains of Philippine dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos were buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani—the Heroes’ Cemetery. While the Philippine Supreme Court insists that the hero’s burial conferred to the author of the nation’s darkest chapter is a political question, from established doctrines here and abroad, the authors seek to derive the political answer. This article will look at the legitimacy of memory laws within the Philippine Constitutional framework. Finding guidance from the Auschiwtz lie case of the German Constitutional Court, the article seeks to combat historical revisionism and prohibit the Marcosian lie. Our research begins by looking at the resurgence of authoritarianism as seen through the populist presidency of Rodrigo Roa Duterte. We will then proceed to address the threshold issue of state-sanctioned narratives. Recognising that the duty to establish the truth involves the power to determine the narrative, the authors will reconcile the conflicting demands of the freedom of thought and the right to the truth. We will then proceed by utilising the fact-opinion distinction to demonstrate how the Marcosian lie may be the valid subject of regulation. The last phase of the research looks into the approaches adopted by the United Nations (un) Human Rights Committee and the European Court of Human Rights in dealing with negationism and historical revisionism.

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