An insult to Ilocanos
Our Congress is passing a bill declaring Sept. 11 as President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos Day in Ilocos Norte. And with no debate whatsoever. Words fail me. Do the Germans/Austrians celebrate an Adolf Hitler Day anywhere in Germany, or in Braunau am Inn in Austria? Do the Italians celebrate a Benito Mussolini in Predappio, Italy?
We not only will be the laughingstock of the world, which held us in the highest respect when we overthrew the dictator peacefully and became a role model for all other similar movements to follow, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, but we will also have pissed on the face of Ninoy Aquino and all the victims of martial law, as well as on our faces—the victims of Marcos’ plunder—for which we had to suffer for almost 16 years before we could regain our former per capita income.
I know our Congress is not exactly the brightest bulb in the government, but how are they defending this move? According to newspaper reports, Senate President Tito Sotto rationalized it by saying (1) that it is a bill of local application (Ilocos Norte) only, which generally is not debated on so it will breeze through the Senate; and (2) that Marcos was not only a son of Ilocos Norte, but also a hero not only to Ilocos Norte but also to most Ilocanos all over the world.
Let’s take them one by one. It is a bill of local application, but it definitely cannot be treated the same as the naming of a school or a street, for heaven’s sake. It has national ramifications. Sure, Marcos was president of the Philippines, but he abused his power, holding on to office for 14 more years than he was entitled to, during which time he stole the Filipinos blind (the Supreme Court calculated what he and his wife earned during their time and it could not compare to the assets they accumulated), and then tried to cheat his way to another term. He did much more harm to the Philippines than the good he may have accomplished.
Now, about this “he is a hero to Ilocos Norte and to most Ilocanos all over the world”: What is the basis of that statement of Senator Sotto? It actually is an insult to Ilocanos. Are they not Filipinos first? Did they not see the devastation that Marcos brought on the Philippines? Did they not witness how he tried to keep himself in power even after 20 years?
So, the dictator Marcos did a lot for Ilocos while he was president. Does that more than compensate for what evil he wreaked on the Filipino people? The Ilocanos are not dumb. And I am sure they are Filipinos first.
My father was an Ilocano (born in Abra, raised in Sta. Maria, Ilocos Sur) who thought the world of Ferdinand Marcos. He was a journalist with the Philippines Free Press and wrote articles defending the young Marcos who was accused of killing his father’s opponent (Julio Nalundasan). He was struck by Marcos’ brilliance and his potential, and was his personal friend. He chose then Senate President Marcos to be a principal sponsor at my wedding (he came, and charmed me, too).
But when President Marcos declared martial law, my father brought me every day to the Supreme Court to hear the martial law case against Marcos. And I remember him sighing, and saying, “if I knew then that he would do this to the Filipino people, I would never have defended him.”
That’s the kind of Ilocano I know. A Filipino first. And someone who would evaluate Marcos not just on the basis of a few, or even many, scraps thrown his way. And I am half-Ilocano. And proud of it. But I am a Filipino first. As I said, Senator Sotto insults the Ilocanos.
But that’s not all the shenanigans Congress has been up to this past week or so. It seems legislators have again given up the best interests of the Filipinos to serve their own personal interests. It seems the joint committees on trade and industry and health changed some provisions of the tobacco bill to benefit the tobacco industry at the expense of our children’s health and welfare. They’ve lowered the age restriction for sale and use to 18 years old instead of the recommended 21 years old. And they also lifted the ban on flavors except conventional tobacco and menthol, and allowed flavors including ones that are attractive to children and youth.
Will this stupidity and self-serving never stop?
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