I am writing this statement in my capacity as President of Assumption College. For over a hundred years Assumption as an institution has been dedicated to educating women to be civic and business Christian leaders with a strong love of country and respect for the dignity of all beings. I believe that every person no matter what they have or have not done in their lives deserves respect even in death. However, to be buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani affirms that those buried there were indeed heroes. And there’s the rub.
The term “hero” in 5 different dictionaries have this common theme: a hero is a person who demonstrates the highest and noblest moral qualities. Consequently, this is my litmus test: a hero is someone I can hold up before every student, teacher and staff member and declare: “be just like him or her so this world will be a better place.” Therefore, can I say, “be just like President Marcos?” Regrettably not.
Tragically, he declared Martial Law in September 1972. As a dictator he abolished: Congress, the Supreme Court, our human right to assembly, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and media. He suspended the writ of habeas corpus, and restricted travel and communication. Freedom only returned through the 1986 People Power Revolution. How can we hail him as a hero and ask the students to do the same when he sent tanks into the street in front of nuns, priests, women and children who were standing on the front lines? … How can he be a hero of the Filipino people when certain citizens with a dissenting voice were jailed and tortured while he and his cronies plundered the country?
If only someone would step forward, in his name, and ask the Filipinos for forgiveness.
On our part, Assumption College pledges to continue teaching its students about the devastating effects of martial law while understanding the privilege of living in a democracy; to help students discern what is right and stand up for truth against all odds; and to honor all those who died in the night defending our freedoms.
Dr. Carmen Lourdes Valdés
President, Assumption College
San Lorenzo Village, Makati