Memory holes (2)By Juan L. Mercado
Philippine Daily Inquirer
“Grade school honors for Renato Corona?” snorted Melody Santos-Drexler from California. “With Factcheck as speedy as it is now, I cannot see how anyone can hide any data… let alone about the Supreme Court chief justice.”
Drexler is one of many who have reacted to an investigative report, by Rappler’s Riziel Ann Cabreros, that challenged Corona’s self-provided resumés. In them, Corona romps away with medals: gold in grade school, silver at college graduation, etc.
The Supreme Court’s website even buffed up Corona’s PhD from University of Santo Tomas. Yes, the one that dodged dissertation requirements. These “achievements” were paraded as late as March 9, 2012.
“Our investigation shows these are not true,” wrote Cabreros who works with ANC as news writer. She is segment producer of “Pipol.” “Corona did bag a gold—in Filipino spelling. (But) he was not part of the Ateneo elite who graduated with honors.”
Antonio Carpio and Emmanuel Lacaba flanked valedictorian Edgar Jopson. “Pete” Lacaba went on to journalism. Carpio became the best chief justice the Supreme Court never had.
“Edjop” led First Quarter Storm students in asking President Ferdinand Marcos: Drop the idea of running for a third term. “You are only the son of a grocer,” Marcos sneered at Jopson.
“Is he not the son of Joseph the carpenter?” Nazarenes scornfully asked. Dictators and fools often sense irony last. Marcos’ disdain proved the tipping point for Jopson. The latter joined the underground. In 1982, he was gunned down by martial law troopers in Davao.
Corona graduated March 1974, with a Bachelor of Laws degree—sans honors. Now Supreme Court Associate Justice Arturo Brion topped that class. Today, Brion twists in the wind for flip-flopping in the controversial, again reopened, 13-year-old case of PAL flight attendants.
“The biggest contortionist (is) Brion,” Inquirer’s Solita Monsod wrote Saturday. “(He) was the ponente of the Sept. 7, 2011, resolution that gave the ‘final’ victory to Fasap. (He) was also the ponente of the recent decision that gave it to PAL instead. Infamous.”
“Infamous” indeed. That, too, describes how websites expunged Corona’s “honors” after displaying them for years. “By March 14, the site was sporting a new look” even as the impeachment trial continued, Rappler writes.
“The site is under reconstruction,” the Supreme Court Public Information Office explained, sort of. “Some links may not be working…. PIO Chief Midas Marquez did not reply to all our requests for comments.”
“Is this Orwellian flushing of truth down ‘memory holes?’” asked Viewpoint in “Did our clocks strike 13?” That appeared in Inquirer’s Dec. 2 issue eight years back. It had been sparked then by efforts of Imelda Marcos and family to “rehab” the dictator’s tattered image. “Martial law was the most democratic period in our history,” she said.
The Marcoses pledged they would inter the late dictator’s corpse in Ilocos Norte. Within a week if allowed to return, they pledged to President Fidel Ramos. Instead, they began a campaign to bury the embalmed corpse at Libingan ng mga Bayani. Filipinos have short memories?
Marcos’ body today is displayed in an air-conditioned mausoleum in Batac. The setup clones sepulchers that hold the cadavers of Mao Zedong in Tiananmen Square and Vladimir Lenin in Moscow’s Red Square. “Fuchsia, bougainvillea, white sampaguitas and asters ring the Ilocos Norte tomb,” Inquirer notes. “There are no yellow flowers.”
In his novel “1984,” George Orwell sketches “memory holes” as a dictatorship’s ultimate weapon. Memory disintegrates at the hands of the “thought-police.” In “1984,” lies become truth as words lose their meaning. “Slavery is freedom.” Orwell coins “Double Think,” “Newspeak,” and “Big Brother. “Who controls the past, controls the future… Who controls the present controls the past.”
A youth scrubbed of memory will take it for granted that the clock strikes 13. Can a people who tolerate expunged websites become a purposeful nation? Indeed, “the first step in liquidating a people is to erase its memory,” novelist Milan Hübl wrote.
The Rappler probe into Corona memory holes, in fact, resembles the July 1985 analysis of 27 bogus Marcos war medals. Doing research at the US National Archives, University of South Wales Prof. Alfred McCoy “came across US Army records that discredited Ferdinand Marcos’ claims to heroism in World War II.” Thereafter, the records anchored a New York Times series, by Seymour Hersh, that debunked Marcos’ war medals.
Follow-up Times reports, by Jeff Gerth and Joel Brminkley, revealed US Army records stating: Services given by Marcos and 23 others, to the 1st Cavalry Division in 1945, were “of limited military value…. At no time did the Army recognize that any unit, designating itself as Maharlika, ever existed as a guerrilla force in the years of Japanese occupation 1942 to 1945.”
“The immensity of Mr. Marcos’ claim that Maharlika served the entire Luzon was absurd,” reviewing officer Capt. Elbert Curtis wrote. The US shredded Marcos’ claims regarding Maharlika.
Thus, President Aquino scuppered House Resolution 1135 which urged a Libingan burial for Marcos. That would send the wrong message for the future, P-Noy said. It would “disrespect Filipinos buried there for their contributions to the country.”
Lying and embellishing academic achievements fracture the New Code of Judicial Conduct, former Sen. Rene Saguisag adds. “This should not be allowed to pass.”
Corona’s memory hole reminds us of Czech novelist Milan Kundera’s caution: “The struggle of man against power is the struggle against forgetting.”
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