Philippine lawmakers criticize television ad as bid to revise history

Philippine lawmakers criticize television ad as bid to revise history

MANILA – Philippine opposition lawmakers and rights activists have criticized a television advertisement as an effort to whitewash history after it blamed the country’s economic woes on the constitution, adopted following years of martial law.

The one-minute ad aired on prime-time television this week, criticising the 1987 constitution that restored democratic rights after years of martial rule by the late Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the namesake father of the current president.

The ad used the phrase “EDSA-pwera”, combining a colloquial term “etsapuwera”, which means to be excluded or ignored, and EDSA, a major highway in the capital at the centre of the 1986 “people power” revolution that overthrew the elder Marcos.

“This is a continuation of the demonisation of the EDSA People Power revolution by the Marcoses,” said Congressman Edcel Lagman, who has opposed repeated attempts to amend the constitution.

“The ad campaign was crudely made and is devoid of merit. They wanted to convey that EDSA shoved away the people. On the contrary, the EDSA people power revolution was the people’s revolution.”

There was no immediate comment from the office of the president.

Telephone calls to the law firm responsible for the ad went unanswered.

But in an interview on Thursday with ANC News Channel, the firm’s managing partner, Evaristo Gana, said the ad was meant to spur public discussion on constitutional amendments.

Leftist lawmaker Raoul Manuel, however, described the ad as “pro-dictatorship and Marcos rehabilitation propaganda video packaged as advocacy.”
In a statement, Mr. Manuel said, “Our problem was not caused by EDSA or one document. The economic crisis was already severe before the EDSA people power.”

House Speaker Martin Romualdez, a cousin of Mr. Marcos, supports moves to rewrite the constitution, to ease business ownership curbs and lure foreign investors.

But critics fear the move could pave the way for the lifting of term limits in public office, including the president’s.

“Amending the constitution will not cure the problem of corruption and poverty,” said human rights lawyer and martial law victim Neri Colmenares. — Reuters