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Marcos, Duterte not ‘minor incidents in history’

The ABS-CBN issue seems to have touched a raw nerve in many people, including Frankie Sionil Jose, Philippine Star columnist.

Much as I admire my friend, however, I have to disagree with him when he says that “Marcos, Duterte—they are minor incidents in our history, but the oligarchic families will be with us much longer and will most likely be replaced by heirs who will continue to exploit our country and our people.”

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Marcos is not a minor incident in our history, for sure. Marcos had his chance to wipe out the oligarchy with the proclamation of martial law in 1972, but he squandered it. He did punish those who criticized him—the Lopez, Soriano, and Roces dynasties, but allowed Menzi and Elizalde to continue.

Then he adopted other oligarchs, like Benedicto, Floirendo, Cojuangco, and Tan. Marcos fed the oligarchy and amassed his megafortune with their help. My source is Ricardo Manapat’s 615-page book, “Some Are Smarter than Others: The History of Marcos’ Crony Capitalism,” published in 1991 by Aletheia Publications, NY. The New York Times described the book as “impressively documented.”

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I reviewed Manapat’s work in my book, “Never Again (To Martial Law),” published in 2019. To quote from my book: “The Manapat book is based on 11 years of research and writing and is the authoritative source on the economic plunder of the Philippines under Marcos. He was harassed and persecuted for his work and spent three years as a semi-hermit and recluse in the US to finish the book.

“The major cronies, as documented in Manapat’s meticulously researched book, were: Roberto Benedicto who controlled the sugar industry, Antonio Floirendo who cornered the banana industry, Danding Cojuangco who monopolized the coconut industry, Hans Menzi who lorded over the mining and paper industries, Juan Ponce Enrile, Manuel Elizalde, Lucio Tan, and the Romualdez and Marcos families, who took over the rest of the country.

“Manapat explained that crony corporations were provided liberal government incentives, granted tax exemptions, and got lucrative government contracts. They were granted monopolies and captive markets through presidential decrees. They were given easy access to credit from financial institutions. They monopolized access to valuable market information available only to the government.

“Cronyism meant giving loans to friends with little or no collateral, whose corporations were undercapitalized, continued Manapat. Marcos, his family and cronies used the national coffers, the resources of private banks, and even international loans from multinational banks for their businesses. Aid money from the US and Japan were placed at the disposal of Marcos’ money-making network. Until today we are still paying for these loans squandered by the Marcos regime.

“The corruption reached such a massive scale that it took its toll on the Philippine economy and the lives of the average Filipino. By 1986, just before People Power I, the number of Filipinos living below the poverty line doubled from 18 million in 1965 to 35 million, according to Manapat.

“How massive and humongous a loot Marcos took can be deduced from the losses he left behind. The known losses he left behind at the Central Bank included $1.2 billion in missing reserves and $6 billion in special accounts, as documented in the Manapat book. On Feb. 15, 1986, Marcos fled the Philippines, leaving behind a foreign debt of $27 billion and a bureaucracy gone mad.”

As for President Duterte being a minor incident in history, I am inclined to agree with my friend. The way I see it, the President’s health is not good and might even be deteriorating. His claim to history might just be his failed antidrug campaign, the Philippines becoming a vassal of China, and the fact that he allowed former president Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

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As for the current ABS-CBN, I think the company and its owners are better than the cronies of Marcos under martial law. The Marcos oligarchs were the greedy capitalists. ABS-CBN, with its public service projects, may be an oligarch, but it is an oligarch with a conscience. By dragging their feet on its franchise renewal, the Duterte minions in Congress are trying to stifle press freedom. Let us not skirt the issue.

(By the way, those who are interested can buy my book at Solidaridad bookstore on Padre Faura St., Manila. The owner of the bookstore is a nice guy. Manapat’s book is out of print.)

Crispin C. Maslog ([email protected]) is a former journalist with Agence France-Presse and retired communication professor at Silliman University and the University of the Philippines Los Baños.

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TAGS: “A History of Asia”, Duterte, Frankie Sionil Jose, History, marcos
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