Family tradition of untruth
That the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree was once more starkly demonstrated last week by the dictator’s son and namesake Ferdinand Marcos Jr. This election also-ran who still can’t get over the fact that he lost the vice presidency (and who continues to be indulged by the Presidential Electoral Tribunal) made bold claims startling for their fidelity to dissembling and fraud: That, contrary to accusations, it was his family that was the “victim” of historical revisionism because the charges remain unproven; that young Filipinos were being fed lies about his family; that textbooks should thus be cleaned of these supposed falsehoods. Marcos Jr. has tried yet again to climb out of the swamp of irrelevance, this time aided and abetted by some character who called him “the real vice president.” It is important that his latest attempt to burnish the notorious family brand be swatted down forthwith, even if the temptation is great that it just be ignored as one would the buzzing of a fly. Much damage is, and has been, done by a benign indifference. Pelf being the great enabler, the family’s camp has made an industry out of falsely projecting Ferdinand Marcos’ dictatorship as the Philippines’ “golden age,” and there’s a list of online sites that churn out such fabrications and more. Everyone with a stake in the democratic project should pull together to disabuse other Filipinos of this family’s delusions of grandeur, and to counter with fact its long-running engagement with fraud.
Marcos Jr. claimed that stuff had been written in children’s textbooks about his family’s supposed thievery and other wrongdoing but that court proceedings showed these up as untrue: “Nilagay nila sa libro, sa textbook ng mga bata, na ganito, na ang mga Marcos ganito ang ninakaw, ganito ang ginawa. Ngayon lumalabas sa korte, hindi totoo lahat nang sinabi ninyo dahil hindi niyo naipakita.”
He said there was “no evidence” of his family’s supposed crimes and that the allegations were “political propaganda.” And he added, in a sly imitation of offended virtue: “Essentially, you are teaching children lies.”
Marcos Jr. upholds an apparent family tradition of untruth, starting from the paterfamilias’ claim of a bemedalled wartime record as a soldier (described by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines as “fraught with myths, factual inconsistencies and lies,” and debunked by the freedom fighter Bonifacio Gillego and certain US Army officials), and continuing in his sister the senator’s claim of academic achievements here and abroad (denied by the University of the Philippines and Princeton University).
In declaring “no evidence” to back accusations of his family’s plunder, he behaves as if all other Filipinos have been rendered cretins by impoverishment and have forgotten court records, including in the Supreme Court, stating that the Marcos wealth was ill-gotten.
At the Sandiganbayan, Associate Justice Maryann Corpus Mañalac, while concurring in the dismissal last year of a P200-billion forfeiture case against Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos and their cronies, said in a separate opinion: “The fact that the Marcoses have ill-gotten wealth or illegally acquired properties has already been judicially established.”
Mañalac said the Marcoses had failed to “overcome the finding of prima facie presumption” of their ill-gotten wealth, part of which, she noted, had been returned to the Philippine government through compromise agreements. “Indeed,” she said in reference to offshore accounts set up by Ferdinand Marcos, “if all these financial transactions were lawful and legitimate, one wonders why the former president had to use dummies and trustees in the acquisition of assets and properties here and overseas.”
“No evidence”? Republic Act No. 10368, passed when Marcos Jr. was a senator, provides for P10 billion in reparation for victims of human rights violations during the dictatorship and requires the creation of a commission to ensure the teaching of “martial law atrocities” and the lives of the victims.
Even in their panicked flight to Hawaii on that fateful night in February 1986, when a furious people were close to coming through the Palace gates, the Marcoses could not tear themselves away with just the clothes on their backs. According to Nick Davies writing in The Guardian, an official US Customs record of the family’s possessions in the two C-141 planes that transported them listed: 23 wooden crates; 12 suitcases and bags and various boxes of clothes; 413 pieces of jewelry including 70 pairs of jewel-studded cufflinks; an ivory statue of the Santo Niño with a silver mantle and a diamond necklace; 24 gold bricks inscribed with the words “To my husband on our 24th anniversary”; and more than P27 million in freshly printed notes.
And Imelda Marcos, convicted of seven counts of graft in November 2018, was partying on the night of the promulgation of the Sandiganbayan’s decision.
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