The facts are on record
Why are Ferdinand Marcos’ heirs being perceived by some people as not liable for the horrors of the past martial rule, and being presented as such?
“Ano kasalanan nila? What wrong did Bongbong and Imee do?” President Duterte, for one, said last week of two of the Marcos progeny.
It was not so much a curious as a rhetorical question, directed at those critical of his friendship with the family and his apparent intention of burnishing its name and the dictator’s legacy.
“At the time, Bongbong Marcos was a young man, only about seven years old,” Mr. Duterte said of the former senator. “Bata yang sila lahat. Ang matanda lang doon si Imelda pati si Ferdinand. (All of them were young; the only adults were Imelda and Ferdinand).”
Mr. Duterte is hewing to the age-old dictum that the sins of the fathers should not be visited on the sons, especially in this case, according to him, when the Marcos kids were mere minors during the period in question — the martial law era — and therefore oblivious of the deeds, or misdeeds, of the adults in the room.
They had no responsibility in the plunder, abuses and atrocities of their father’s iron rule, so why shouldn’t he go and shake hands with them? (“Bakit di ako magpunta, mag-shake hands?”)
But as Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman — whose brother Hermon Lagman was among those severely tortured and killed during the dictatorship — was quick to point out, “Imee and Bongbong celebrated their 18th birthdays in 1973 and 1975, respectively, and they were old enough when the documented atrocities and plunder were committed by the ‘conjugal dictatorship’ of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.”
Indeed, by the time the Marcos family was ousted from Malacañang by the People Power revolt in February 1986, Bongbong was 29 and Imee 31, which means both of them were fully functioning adults in the high noon of their father’s dark rule.
Imee, now governor of Ilocos Norte, appeared to be her father’s designated heir-apparent and was brought into the business of government early as chair of the nationwide Kabataang Barangay, one of the grassroots structures Marcos established to fortify his rule.
It was at a Kabataang Barangay rally in 1977 that 21-year-old Archimedes Trajano rose to question Imee, also then 21, about her fitness for the post.
For his audacity, Trajano was dragged out of the venue by Imee’s bodyguards; his corpse was later found bearing marks of severe beating and torture.
A court in Honolulu, Hawaii, would eventually pin that crime on Imee, and award $2.5 million in punitive damages and $1.25 million for mental anguish to Trajano’s mother Agapita. Imee was also directed by the court to pay the Trajanos’ attorney’s fees and costs totaling $246,966.
Imee’s lawyers did not even deny that Archimedes Trajano was indeed kidnapped and tortured. Their only contention was that the soldiers who served as Imee’s bodyguards — as agents of a sovereign state — were supposedly beyond the jurisdiction of the US court.
As for the claim that the dictator’s heirs had no knowledge of their parents’ plunder of the national treasury, consider one case among many: that of the $40-million (P1.84 billion) Arelma account that Ferdinand Marcos opened in Panama in 1972 and which the Philippine Supreme Court declared in 2012 to be part of the family’s ill-gotten wealth.
It was Bongbong, the dictator’s only son and namesake, who doggedly blocked efforts to return the money to the Philippine government “in a litigation spanning more than 20 years,” according to the Presidential Commission on Good Government in 2016.
Imee and Bongbong, as well as the entire Marcos family, have neither acknowledged nor apologized for their parents’ brutal misrule.
Worse, they continue to live off the billions stolen from the people, the hoard bankrolling not only their rich lifestyles and resurrected political careers, but also a more insidious project: the whitewashing of history to revitalize the family name and pave the way for their return to Malacañang.
What wrong did the Marcos children do? The facts are on record.
For the sake of the Filipino youth and the next generations, it’s urgent that the people continue to care about the truth in these days of fear and fakery.
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