Filipinos warned against fake online sellers of martial law-related books

A book about martial law under late dictator Ferdinand Marcos is displayed at a bookstore in Manila, the Philippines May 19, 2022. Picture taken May 19, 2022. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

Filipinos have been advised to be vigilant when buying Martial law– books and related reading materials online following the reported wave of fake sellers claiming to have such copies.

It came after GMA News reporter Joseph Morong tweeted that he had been scammed by a Shopee seller claiming to have a copy of “Press freedom under siege: a report that challenged the Marcos dictatorship.”

The book is a compilation of more than 30 magazine and newspaper articles written by journalists who defied repression of the press during the final years of the Marcos dictatorship in the 1980s. It was edited by veteran journalist Ma Ceres P. Doyo.

At that time, the media were among those affected by the regime, according to one book’s description.

Acts against them include media shutdowns, forced resignations, arrests, detention, interrogations, “slanderous” defamation cases and death.

Meanwhile, Morong thought he was about to get a copy of the book, only to find his online purchases turned out to be a scam.

“I ordered a book on Shopee. Seller sent me a box,” he tweeted on May 26, attaching a photo of the item which was rolled up material made from a box.

Morong also shared a screenshot of how the book was marketed on the online shopping platform.

The store name was made up of random letters and numbers. His rating was also “N/A” or “Not Applicable” when he had a cat response of 57%. It also had 993 supposed products listed.

Her post has earned nearly 22,000 likes and over 1,600 retweets so far.

A fellow reporter said she “hoped” Morong had already reported the seller.

“They banned na shop,” he replied, attaching a screenshot of a notice from the platform. He also said that someone working on the e-commerce platform contacted him.

The incident prompted other users to warn their fellow Filipinos about online scams, especially involving such books.

“Same modus for ‘Conjugal Dictatorship’ and other martial law books,” a twitter user asserted, referring to Primitivo Mijares”The marital dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.”

“Only buy from reputable bookstores from Hindi vendors with a mix of letters and numbers in the name – parang troll lang din,” the user added with a melting face emoji.

Another one twitter user reminded the public to “stay alert and buy only from known and credible sources of books from the Martial Law era, whether bookstores or small, well-known bookstores”.

“The potential for our private information to be fished from Shopee orders is frightening to think about,” she wrote.

“There has recently been an increase in the listings of martial law books and media on these platforms. Please pay attention. Better to just buy from trusted booksellers,” the user added.

“Idk (dunno) a fake account (account) would probably sell like a random book which is more salable(?) or any other item if the intention is to only take money, but why choose this title?” another one online user asked.

“I may be paranoid, but we know how dirty and corrupt they are. Pay attention, people,” she also claimed.

Another online user linked the official Shopee and Lazada accounts of UP Press, the book’s publisher.

Last week, a seller shared that there seemed to be a “panic buying” of books relating to martial law following Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s victory in the 2022 presidential election.

“They are really worried and scared that the books will be taken out and everything will be reviewed,” Alexine Parreno told Reuters.

LILY: ‘Protect the truth’: Marcos’ return to the Philippines scares history

A few days after the election, a children’s publisher put their batch of “#NeverAgain” books up for sale. The titles are related to Martial Law and Marcos Sr.

A historian assured the public that ‘contingency plans’ were ‘being worked out’ while sources linked to martial law could be ‘banned or whitewashed’.

Martial law is a nine-year period implemented by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. which saw the restriction of civil liberties, extrajudicial executions and unsolved disappearances, media oppression and economic recession, among others .

London-based human rights organization Amnesty International stated that “some 70,000 people were imprisoned and 34,000 were tortured; more than 3,200 people were killed” during its imposition.

His son and namesake, Marcos Jr, was proclaimed the country’s president-elect.

RELATED: Congress proclaims Marcos as next president

Grover Z. Barnes