Why the Marcoses are in power
It remains a disconcerting vision. Imelda Marcos of the seven counts of graft and corruption conviction attended last week’s proclamation of daughter Imee (she who lied that she graduated from Princeton and UP Law, and she whose lawyers did not deny before a US court that her bodyguards tortured and killed Archimedes Trajano) as the dynasty’s latest senator (her family’s third).
Glitzy still with her signature (stolen?) blingblings, the former half of the conjugal dictatorship looked perfectly fit at 89, hardy enough to spend the rest of her lifetime in jail. But why isn’t she behind bars?
The answer lies in what is now our Orwellian two minutes of hate: the Edsa People Power Revolution and the Cory Aquino presidency that did not develop systemic change and merely ushered in another batch of more opaque politics. Recent history is still fresh.
Let the fast facts tell us: on Nov. 4, 1991, Cory allowed Imelda and her children to return to the Philippines after living in exile in Hawaii for more than five years. Soon after her return, the former first lady quickly started her bid to return to politics.
Why were they allowed to return? Why did Cory allow her to run? This was what opened the floodgates for their flight from law and their persistent lying to the Filipino people. Naturally, the worse was yet to come.
Imelda ran for president in the 1992 election, finishing fifth out of seven candidates. Three years later, in 1995, she was elected as representative of Leyte’s first district, despite facing a disqualification lawsuit in which the Supreme Court ruled in her favor. She again sought the presidency in the 1998 election, but later
withdrew to support Joseph Estrada, who emerged as winner. In that election, she finished ninth among the 11 candidates.
Notice the trend of the family’s moves to reestablish themselves in power: Imelda ran as representative for Ilocos Norte’s second district in 2010 to replace her son, Ferdinand Jr., who ran for the Senate under the Nacionalista Party. She sought reelection, and won, in 2013 and 2016.
Meantime, Imee, who had told a US court that “Yes, Archimedes Trajano was tortured and killed but it’s none of your business” (Opinion by Raissa Robles, ABS-CBN, 11/16/16) conspired her own return. She was representative of Ilocos Norte’s second district from 1998 to 2007. In the 2010 elections, she ran and won as governor of Ilocos Norte against her cousin, Michael Marcos Keon. She was reelected in 2013, unopposed, and again in 2016. She placed No. 8 in the senatorial race in the recently concluded midterm elections.
The Marcos dictatorship was draconian autocracy and larcenous family kleptocracy combined. Our response was benign for crimes committed by all members of that family. The creation of the Presidential Commission on Good Government was correct (P171 billion in recovered funds since 1986, of which P35 billion was in Swiss accounts). But aside from that, a swift but nonkangaroo special trial court could have convicted them easily, their passports invalidated, then extradited to serve sentence that included perpetual disqualification from public office. A crime is a crime, period.
Rodrigo Duterte said his biggest campaign contributor was Imee Marcos (it is a lie; this was never reflected in his filed statement of contributions). But it is not Mr. Duterte who is responsible for resurrecting the Marcoses. It is rather our wrong sense of justice—we confuse the mercy of God with forgiving criminals. Pardoning the criminal arbitrarily—in current parlance we call it to “move on”—is a mistaken application of Divine Mercy in a human court. There was no need to resurrect them because we never ousted them. We even elected Mr. Duterte and his bloody drug war because our concept of justice is distorted from the natural law of justice, to begin with.
On Twitter: @AntonioJMontal2. E-mail: email@example.com
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