[BY THE PEOPLE] Criminalizing Historical Negationism

By Abdul Hafiz Malawani

After the 2022 national elections, historical negationism exacerbated, and those who spread them kept weaponizing social media platforms while still not being accountable for their crime against truth and democracy. 

Cartoon by Joseph Idusora

More than 120 groups have banded together to form an initiative that aims to promote the truth and fight disinformation. However,  the government, led by the late dictator's son and the primary beneficiary of disinformation President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., seems to have no plans to address this information crisis that the country has sunk into. 

According to a report published last year in Internews, approximately 75% of the population in the Philippines uses the internet, mainly Facebook and YouTube. Other sources of information include Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber. However, due to unreliable internet coverage and paywalls, it is difficult for Filipinos to fact-check what they see in their news feeds.

This means that the government should seek technological and policy solutions to extend its control in cyberspace and enforce laws against the denial of historical atrocities, distortions, and minimization of historical record.

To combat historical distortions and to amplify the importance of accountability and social responsibility, historical negationism should be criminalized in the country without reservation.

The criminalization of historical negationism is a legal intervention that is not limited to extending an invitation to remember but seeks to establish the imposition of criminal sanction. The crime of negationism is yet another intersection of the confluence between law and memory. Furthermore, this type of intervention uses the criminal law, a type of law with a strong symbolic meaning, to protect the communal memory.

It is crucial to define “negationism” to set it apart from the phenomenon known as “revisionism,” with which it is sometimes equated. Historical revisionism is the study by multiple scholars of traditional historical views and events, introducing new evidence and bringing forth the discovery of facts. So, historical revisionism is not bad per se if the basis is a thorough study with evidence, not opinion. 

Historical denialism, also called negationism, is the falsification or distortion of history through applying techniques of research, quotation, and presentation for the deception of the reader and the denial of the historical record. Therefore, we should focus more on the calls for “No To Historical Negationism.” 

Since 1947, Historical Holocaust negationism has been illegal in countries including Austria, Belgium, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, and Switzerland. This was after the denial of the systematic genocidal killings of approximately six million Jews in Europe by Nazi Germany in the 1930s and1940s.

In the Philippines, it is timely and relevant to criminalize historical negationism of certain historical events. Specifically, the historical distortion regarding the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., which involves trivializing the human rights violations and economic plunder that took place during the Marcos administration, as well as the role played by the rest of the Marcos family and by various Marcos’ cronies in the administration, should all be criminalized.

This is not a reckless stance for many reasons, including the protection of free speech, but historical negationists must be held accountable for the crime they committed against truth, humanity, and democracy.

In this newfound era of exploitative mal information that poses a threat to our freedom, we must continue to fight and stand for the truth. While the government, specifically the Senate and Congress, should criminalize historical negationism to prevent this from happening again in the future.

We need to know our history, and yes, we need the government to stop any attempts to rewrite our history. We need to make people listen, understand, and care. It is time for historical negationists to face the consequences of their actions now more than ever.


Edited by Christine Gaile Dimatatac



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Abdul Hafiz Tacoranga Malawani, 21, is an information technology student from Mindanao State University Marawi. Aside from being a youth volunteer with the Kabataan Party list, he also writes and contributes columns to the National Guilder, Explained PH, and other digital media companies. He is the opinion editor for the College Editors Guild of the Philippines and a student member of the Journalism Studies Association of the Philippines. 


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Explained By The People is a collaboration between Explained Opinion Desk and Explained Community that aims to give campus journalists, youth leaders, and other advocates a platform to let their voices be heard on the country’s current issues.

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