The Marcoses: father and son
Since it is the anniversary again of the People Power revolt that toppled strongman Ferdinand Marcos, perhaps it is timely to look more closely at the other Ferdinand Marcos.
Sen. Bongbong Marcos was a guest last week at the Kapihan sa Manila at the Diamond Hotel and he talked about how things could have been different with the Mamasapano massacre with just one telephone call from President Aquino during those critical moments he first learned about the firefight then raging on a cornfield in an isolated village in Mamasapano.
Many described those “critical moments” as a failure in leadership. For Bongbong, chair of the Senate committee studying the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL), what is important to know is what mechanism should be put in place so that things such as the Mamasapano tragedy would not happen again in the future. No politics here, just a pure and simple search for solutions to what Bongbong noted as a
major flaw in the proposed BBL—the draft of which he was thoroughly familiar with after having completed several hearings and consultations with various stakeholders.
Unlike other senators who had knee-jerk reactions when this news broke out, Bongbong stood his ground, remained very consistent in his pronouncements and was very clear about his role as a senator—that he was sharing his voice for the sake of reason, not for political grandstanding.
In the Senate hearing, Bongbong asked some of the most relevant questions. He wanted to know what P-Noy did from the time he was informed of the clash early in the morning of Jan. 25 until about 4 p.m. when the fighting stopped. Bongbong also wanted to know who informed the President about what was
happening, and if there was anybody who persuaded him not to do anything that would compromise the ceasefire agreement.
The President already admitted he is responsible for the botched operation, but up to what extent? For Bongbong, it is important that the people get some form of closure before Congress resumes the discussions on the BBL.
For Bongbong, both groups—the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)—violated their own chain of command because they have differing perspectives about the peace agreement. Government’s sincerity is obvious when armed reinforcements were put on hold pending action by the International Monitoring Team and the committee on the cessation of hostilities.
We know now that on the part of the MILF, the ceasefire is temporary, pending the completion of the entire peace negotiations, which starts on the passage of the BBL. Meaning, for the MILF, its fighters are free to strike at government troops if they think the government is violating the ceasefire.
When Bongbong heard that the MILF still considers itself a “revolutionary organization,” he protested. He said that was not the status given to him at the BBL hearings. By asserting itself as still a “revolutionary organization,” the MILF was trying to shield its men from possible criminal charges to be filed by the government.
“Truth with justice”—this is the overwhelming demand of the people, which Bongbong also wants. The senator recounted how he felt the very first time he heard about the massacre. He admitted that he was shocked, even felt rage when he heard from friends in the military and police about what happened in Mamasapano.
Instead of warmongering or calls for quick retaliation, Bongbong did the opposite—he suspended all BBL hearings because he knew that without a thorough investigation and subsequent resolution of this issue, this pending bill, as drafted, will not help in the pursuit of peace in Mindanao. That clash happened when mechanisms were supposedly in place to prevent such things from happening. Bongbong recognized that such things should be resolved first before any discussions about other things in the bill.
The senator already recognizes several questionable provisions of the BBL, especially those about the proposed law’s constitutional basis. But like the senators of old, Bongbong did not raise them; instead, he asked several groups to contribute their views in the hope of finding the correct answer.
One can criticize the actions of the father, but, if it is about the son Bongbong, Macoy is most likely smiling out there, knowing that his son is doing the right thing.
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A few columns ago, I suggested that the last stand made at Mamasapano by Special Action Force troopers would make a good movie worthy of such classics as “The Alamo,” “They Died with Their Boots On,” “Charge of the Light Brigade,” and “Tora! Tora! Tora!” A few days ago, former Laguna governor ER Ejercito announced he would produce such a movie.
This is good because Ejercito also produced and starred in the award-winning biopic “El Presidente,” which told the story of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and his—as well as the other national heroes’—role in the 1896 Philippine Revolution and in the establishment of the First Philippine Republic.
The new movie (suggested title: “The Fighting 44” or “Ang Magiting na 44”) would be more difficult but at the same time easy to produce because it is still fresh in the minds of the people. So it has to be accurate. The best details would be the ironies and all the little mistakes that, put together, led to the debacle and the loss of the lives of 44 brave SAF commandos.
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