Imee Marcos: My father didn't intend for martial law abuses to happen

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — Senator Imee Marcos said her father, late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, told her that he did not command any abuses while the country was under martial law.

At least 11,000 people were victims of martial law brutalities, but Imee stressed that there were always scalawags in the police and military who committed the atrocities.

"He never intended for abuses to happen and it was never a matter of policy," thre senator said. "Nangyayari pa rin hanggang ngayon, may scalawag, may bulok talaga sa ating kasundaluhan at ating kapulisan."

[Translation: It is still happening to this day, there are scalawags, and there are really rotten elements in our army and our police.]

In a gathering at the Marcoses' San Juan residence during the 51st anniversary of the declaration of martial law, Sen. Marcos recalled hearing about abuses and abductions during the martial rule and telling it to her father.

"Parati kong sinasabi sa tatay ko at sabi niya, 'May loko talaga sa hanay ng pulis, ng sundalo, ng opisyal. Paparusahan natin 'yan kung talagang totoo,'" Imee shared.

[Translation: I always tell my father and he says, 'There are really rascals in the ranks of the police, the soldiers, the officers. We will punish them if that is really true.']

The senator emphasized that the rascals in the state forces cannot be stopped. The only option is to continue catching and punishing them.

Retired General Hermogenes Esperon, who served during the martial law, admitted that there were abuses during Marcos' reign.

However, he defended the military rule, saying it was necessary to control the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army, as well as peace in Mindanao.

"May mga abuso," Esperon said. "Marami akong nakitang abuso pero para sa'kin at least hindi nanalo ang NPA. Hindi sila nakakuha ng malaking poder, hindi sila nakapag-build up ng forces at 'yung Mindanao nagkaroon tayo ng sapat na kakayahan para ayusin ang Mindanao."

[Translation: There were abuses. I saw many abuses but for me at least the NPA did not win. They did not get much power, they were not able to build up forces and we had enough ability to organize Mindanao.]

The late Ferdinand E. Marcos, father and namesake of President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., declared martial law on Sept. 21, 1972. The younger Marcos is in his second year in office as the country's chief executive.

The martial law years from 1972 to 1981 saw thousands of human rights violations, widespread corruption and the country racking up billions of dollars in foreign debt.

Malacañang had no word on behalf of the president as the nation recalled the military rule of the elder Marcos, regarded as one of the darkest periods in Philippine history marked by torture, deaths, illegal arrests, and media repression.

With reports from CNN Philippines' correspondent Daniza Fernandez and digital producer Syrah Vivien Inocencio.