We flicked through the dictionary for the word that fits a bizarre contrast. In one part of town, Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. said he’d run come 2016, adding that his father’s dictatorship had benefited Filipinos. Across town, over 20,000 victims of abuse during the Marcos dictatorship are filing claims for reparation under Republic Act No. 10368.
“Schizophrenia” fills the bill. It’s a psychotic disorder. Can a society go bonkers from loss of contact with reality, then careen about with delusions?
Former first lady and now Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos amplified for Junior. She wants him to run for president. The martial-law New Society was the “most democratic period in our history.” In contrast, the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board will issue the last restitution check for victims in May 2016. This P10-billion fund is drawn from recovered Marcos ill-gotten wealth.
It is different from the cash set aside by the US Hawaii District Court in 1995 for those who had lodged a class suit. A total of 9,541 victims got a second $1,000 check. This is reparation stemming from the court holding the dictator “liable for systematic torture, summary executions and disappearances.” Also, it’s the “biggest personal injury verdict in history.”
“Once again, the Philippines allowed America, through the Hawaii case, to act as an arbiter of justice,” notes “Dark Legacy,” a University of Wisconsin study. “This jarring juxtaposition indicates that the trauma of Marcos terror remains deeply imbedded.”
The Marcos regime racked up 3,257 extrajudicial killings, 759 desaparecidos (or the disappeared), 35,000 torture victims, plus 70,000 imprisoned, says historian Alfred McCoy. Did “schizo” cause Bongbong and Imelda to forget—or look away?
“People say how thankful they were for the relative peace and order that followed martial law,” Marcos Jr. said. Streets were cleaner, tourists flocked in, and the Philippine image worldwide was “positive,” he said, adding that the country must move on. “Finding scapegoats is not the solution.”
Tell that to Walter Dacumos, who recalls how Panfilo Lacson, then a second lieutenant, stepped on his chest. “Inapakan ako sa dibdib, and was given the water cure” along with scriptwriter Ricky Lee. Both men vomited blood. “And what will you do with the P50,000?” asked Inquirer columnist Ceres Doyo, also a martial law victim. “I will buy myself a good bed,” he replied.
The Marcos era was a “sultanistic regime,” wrote Dresden University professor Mark Thomsom in “The Anti-Marcos Struggle: Personalistic Rule and Democratic Transition in the Philippines” (Yale University Press). It was characterized by family-based rule and corruption. Marcos “exercised power freely, without loyalty to any ideology or institution … and would never step down.”
But former senator Benigno Aquino Jr.’s assassination triggered outrage, and People Power voted in Corazon Aquino. As the new president, she consolidated democracy “despite troubling legacies of the dictatorship.”
“For all the trappings of a national government, we are not far from the era of the barangay,” the late Filipino historian Horacio de la Costa had written earlier. “We conduct our affairs pretty much in the manner of Lapu-Lapu and Humabon. [Today’s legislator] who moves around with his bodyguards is not much different from the datu surrounded by his retainers.”
In November 1992, the Bantayog ng mga Bayani (Monument to the Heroes) opened to honor those who defied the dictatorship. A 14-meter Inang Bayan (Mother Philippines) monument towers. A Wall of Remembrance is inscribed with the names of martyrs, both prominent and lesser known: among them publisher Joaquin “Chino” Roces, Sen. Jose W. Diokno, student activist Edgar Jopson. A library at the memorial’s Jovito R. Salonga building serves students and researchers.
Contrast that with a memorial of a different sort in Ilocos Norte. A mausoleum displays the embalmed body of Marcos Sr. In 1993, his family members reneged on a promise to then President Fidel Ramos that they would bury him within a week after his return from Hawaii.
The mausoleum is “ringed by fuchsia, bougainvillea, white sampaguita and asters,” the Inquirer reports. “There are no yellow flowers.”
“The passing years [are] taking a toll…” notes the New York Times. “Mold creeps up the edges of the satin sheet, and a sound system is broken…. No one seems to have swept or dusted the museum, let alone refurbished it, despite periodic visits of his widow and family members.” Early this week, 85-year-old Imelda, in a flowing terno, came to kiss the glass coffin for the cameras.
On display at the museum are Marcos’ 27 medals for heroism. They’re bogus, a New York Times series by Seymour Hersh asserted. Follow-up Times reports, by Jeff Gerth and Joel Brminkley, revealed US Army records stating: “At no time did the US Army recognize any unit designating itself as Maharlika ever existed as guerrilla a force. The immensity of Mr. Marcos’ claim that Maharlika served the entire Luzon was absurd.” It dismissed Marcos’ bid for compensation.
Bongbong and Imelda insist on a Libingan ng mga Bayani burial for the embalmed body. In contrast, a state funeral apparently never crossed Corazon Aquino’s mind. She’s buried next to Benigno Aquino Jr. in a private cemetery.
Just this March, it’s reported, Bongbong funneled P100 million in DAP (Disbursement Acceleration Program) funds to bogus Napoles NGOs. As writer Oscar Levant once joshed: “Schizophrenia beats dining alone.”
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