Is this the second Marcos administration?
In “Duterte’s three changes are here,” I proposed that the Duterte administration was “fundamentally different from other post-Marcos administrations” on account of three “deeply unsettling” policies. A killing spree which threatens to turn a nation of martyrs into a country of killers; a disorienting pivot to China which degrades Philippine sovereignty and risks national territory — and the rehabilitation of the Marcos family.
I wrote that in November 2016, mere hours before the Supreme Court allowed the burial of the remains of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Since then, the rehabilitation of the Marcoses under the Duterte administration has only grown in boldness, and in disregard for the bloodstained facts of history.
President Duterte has made his appreciation of Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos even more of a rite of public demonstration. In the large PDP-Laban campaign rally in Cebu City on Feb. 24, for instance, the President repeated his oft-said description of the Marcos daughter as the first Luzon governor to support his presidential candidacy. Later, when it was time to introduce his political party’s candidates, he said in a mix of Cebuano and Filipino: “Actually, the person I’m going to introduce to you… is the most beautiful woman,” and then stops to ask Imee, flirtatiously: “Aren’t you a widow?”
Mr. Duterte has also continued to repeat his absurd, baseless assertion that the abuses or excesses of the Marcos years are a matter still to be established. Last week, he added another brick to the Marcos firewall he was building: He asserted that the charges against the Marcoses remained unproven. “Until now you have not proven anything except to sequester and sell — you are not even sure if that’s really Marcos’. No.”
This is an extraordinary statement, especially coming from a lawyer. The Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled on both the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and the regime’s human rights violations. Courts in Switzerland and the United States have confirmed that the Marcos family and their cronies hid money abroad or committed human rights violations. Congress passed a law mandating recognition and reparation for Marcos human rights victims — and President Duterte only last week extended the period for the distribution of compensation first set under this very law.
To the argument that we should look at what the President does or causes, rather than what he says, the example set by large bureaucratic organizations like the Philippine National Police is worrying. After the Sandiganbayan antigraft court found Marcos’ wife, Rep. Imelda Marcos, guilty of graft, the PNP found all sorts of ways not to have to serve the arrest warrant.(Contrast this remarkable deference with the impetuous speed the National Bureau of Investigation displayed in serving Rappler editor Maria Ressa’s warrant of arrest.)
Indeed, the President’s language regarding the Marcoses is accurately reflected in the statements of presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo, one of the highest-ranking Marcos loyalists in the Duterte administration. (Another high-profile loyalist is Solicitor General Jose Calida, the driving force behind the Bongbong Marcos for President movement.)
In a press briefing last week, Panelo defended the President’s assertions about the Marcoses through a series of startlingly brazen statements. A former candidate for the Senate under Marcos’ Kilusang Bagong Lipunan, Panelo revealed his true loyalist colors. Perhaps the most revelatory was his belittling of the accusations of ill-gotten wealth — by law, presumed to have been stolen — that were accumulated by the Marcoses.
“Kung makapagsalita naman kasi ang mga anti-Marcos, parang gabundok ang ninakaw.” How best to translate this, to capture the full stench of Panelo’s bullshit? “These anti-Marcos people talk as though the Marcoses stole a mountain of money” may be a start.
The Marcos family did steal a mountain of money — and we are still paying for that world-class, Imeldific thievery. The magnitude of the Marcoses’ hidden wealth is an established fact. It is a sorry reflection of our times that the spokesperson of the President of the Philippines is an unabashed Marcos loyalist, making excuses not only for a Marcos-loyal President but defending the Marcoses themselves.
Welcome to the second Marcos administration.
On Twitter: @jnery_newsstand
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