Marcos rehabilitation bandwagon
THE BANDWAGON seeking the rehabilitation of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos is in full flight in the run-up to the 39th anniversary of the proclamation or martial law in the Philippines in September 1972.
The move is being pushed by the Marcos family and his political heirs who are calling for the burial of the dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery of Heroes). Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator, said the burial of the elder Marcos should be seen as an attempt to “close a chapter” in the country’s history and to “move forward” as an opportunity for the “unification of the country.” The call immediately reopened the deep cleavage over the excesses of the Marcos regime among its countless victims.
The call came after former Armed Forces Chief of Staff Angelo Reyes was buried with full military honors at the Libingan after he committed suicide on Feb. 8 amid charges that he received huge retirement payments. The young Marcos used the Reyes burial as the opening wedge to claim that there was “inequitable treatment” of his father, who, according to Senator Marcos, deserved to be buried at the site, having been a war hero and the longest-serving president of the country. This claim immediately raised the issue whether Marcos Sr. was a “war hero” and whether being the longest serving president (21 years, 14 of which as a dictator) entitled him to be buried at the heroes’ cemetery.
The claim drew a sharp rebuke from Caloocan Bishop Deogracias Iñiguez, who spoke on behalf of the Catholic Church hierarchy which, during the martial law years, was at loggerheads with the dictatorship and denounced the regime’s human rights abuses and its massive corruption. The hierarchy disputes the claim that Marcos was a hero. The bishop said he did not think Marcos would “qualify to be buried there,” adding, “It’s hard to judge if a person is a hero or not unless we really know what he did for the country.”
The claim that Marcos was a war hero has been debunked as fraudulent. Two weeks before the snap election in January 1986, the New York Times reported: “The US Army concluded that after World War II Ferdinand Marcos’ claims of heading a guerrilla resistance unit during the Japanese occupation… were ‘fraudulent’ and ‘absurd.’” The report, based on research in US military archives, showed that “between 1945 and 1948 various US Army officers rejected Marcos’ two requests for official recognition of the unit, calling his claims distorted, exaggerated, fraudulent, contradictory and absurd.” Army investigators concluded that Maharlika (Marcos’ guerrilla unit) was a fictitious creation and that “no such unit every existed as a guerrilla organization during the war.”
Against these authoritative reports, the Marcos family is trying to resurrect the fraud of his war record and foist it as the basis of their move to have him buried as a war hero at the Libingan.
Against the evidence, 204 members of the House of Representatives have signed the petition seeking the burial of Marcos at the Libingan and have climbed on board the bandwagon to rehabilitate Marcos. The signatures endorsing the petition indicate that members of Congress are gullible and susceptible to be hijacked by schemes designed to perpetrate a fraudulent claim.
Also, members of Congress appeared to have been easily deluded by false claims that the burial of Marcos would lead to national reconciliation. There cannot be any unification of the country or a closure of the dark chapter of our history of being under a dictatorship unless there’s humility on the part of the Marcos family to acknowledge the abuses and excesses of the Marcos regime. There has never been any hint of contrition on their part over the seizure of their ill-gotten wealth and the numerous evidence of human rights atrocities committed by martial law authorities.
Marcos Jr. is even flaunting the claim that the country had never been in stronger and more prosperous economic condition than it was during the dictatorship. He ignores the fact that under Marcos’ crony capitalism, the economy was plunged into a deep crisis in the early 1980s. He seems to be arguing that the country had never had it so good than it was under the dictatorship.
The move to rehabilitate Marcos is as devious as the deception employed by Marcos when he imposed martial law. Marcos signed Proclamation 1081 placing the entire country under martial law close to midnight on Sept. 21, 1971. From that moment, army units fanned out to arrest first targets among politicians and journalists deemed as enemies of the state. The raiding teams were armed with arrest warrants and copies of the proclamation they nailed on the doors of newspaper offices and Congress which they shut down. Media and radio stations were eerily silent from midnight to the next morning, except the radio flash report that Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile was ambushed near Wack Wack Golf and Country Club, providing the justification for the declaration of martial law. Marcos appeared on national television on Sept. 23 to officially announce that martial law had been brought down. It was the biggest deception perpetrated by Marcos on Philippine democracy.
In determining whether we can accept the burial of Marcos at Libingan and acclaim him as a national hero, it should never be forgotten that the biggest crime Marcos committed against the Filipino people was that he imposed the first dictatorship in Philippine modern political history.
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