Never forget the Conjugal Dictatorship
It is only eight months before the next national elections, and we now see the perennial politicians reminding us of their presence via TV ads and media interviews. One of them is former vice presidential candidate Bongbong Marcos, son of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who until now has not acknowledged his defeat in the 2016 elections.
Bongbong’s father, Ferdinand Marcos, declared martial law on Sept. 23, 1972 (though he fixed the official date as Sept. 21) in a bid to stay in power indefinitely. We should remember this historical fact because, as Spanish philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” A cliché now, but one we should continue repeating.
Everyone should read “The Conjugal Dictatorship,” the first tell-all book on the Marcos martial law regime. It narrates firsthand accounts by someone who used to belong to President Ferdinand Marcos’ inner circle, and is packed with details about the excesses of the Marcos dictatorship and the private lives of the First Couple and their cronies.
It reports on the best laid plans that led to the Philippines’ dark history: the imposition of martial law in 1972 and the schemes that built and held its infrastructure. It also exposes the massive corruption and military abuses under the regime.
Primitivo “Tibo” Mijares was Marcos’ media adviser. He was a reporter of the Marcos-controlled newspaper the Daily Express. But he was no ordinary reporter. He was Marcos’ purveyor of fake news, and one of the very few who had direct access to the President on a daily basis. Given Mijares’ insider status, his book was hailed and found credible and authoritative from the time it was first published in the United States in 1976. However, it was banned in the Philippines during the years that the Marcoses were in power. Those who were able to get a copy read it surreptitiously and at their own risk (including this writer). The book had a second printing in 1986 after Edsa People Power Revolution booted Marcos out of the country.
What drove Mijares to cut his ties with Marcos? In the first chapter of his book, he addressed this question:
“I started entertaining second thoughts about my support and propaganda work for Marcos towards the end of the year 1973. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact time when I did, but it must have been right after December 30, 1973, which was the final day of Marcos’s second and last term in office under the 1935 Constitution. At about that point in time, I began to realize that Marcos imposed martial law, not to save the country from Communist rebellion and to reform society, but to hold on to the presidency for life—and as a dictator.”
Mijares decided to defect while in the United States on official mission in 1974. In June 1975, he found himself preparing to divulge damning information about the Marcos dictatorship before a US congressional inquiry.
On the night before he was to testify, Mijares received a call from Marcos trying to dissuade him from appearing in the hearing. An aide subsequently offered Mijares $100,000 (a huge amount in the 1970s) as hush money. Mijares chose to testify just the same, providing details about the briberies, payoffs, voter fraud, corporate theft, unlawful arrests, and corruption happening under the dictatorship.
Shortly after his testimony, Mijares went missing. He was believed to have been abducted and executed by the military. Nobody has seen him alive to this day.
As a damning document against the excesses of Marcos’ dictatorial rule, this book is a must-read for all Filipinos, especially those who are still clueless about the inexorable assault on our freedoms by martial law.
This book should also be read by today’s millennials and those born after the martial law years who never got to experience the dark days under the dictatorship. Some of these people are under the wrong impression that the Marcos regime was the “golden age” of the Philippines—another fanciful yarn spun by the dictator’s publicists and blind supporters.
We need to be reminded of the past to ensure that the Marcoses are never allowed to return to power, as they are trying to do now.
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Crispin C. Maslog is a former journalist with Agence France-Presse and a retired communication professor at UP Los Baños and Silliman University. A brief review of “The Conjugal Dictatorship” and five other martial law books is available in his book “NEVER AGAIN (To Martial Law)! A Sequel to Martial Law Jokes Atbp.” Email [email protected]
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