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Marcos heirs’ revisionist assault on ‘Never Again’

/ 01:41 AM November 06, 2015

CANBERRA—The heirs of Ferdinand Marcos reappeared on the center stage of Philippine politics last Oct. 28 in a brazen attempt to regain political power via the backdoor 43 years after the dictatorship was toppled by the 1986 People Power Revolution.

They reentered the political landscape in full force, with a vengeance, at the launching of the candidacy of  the dictator’s only son and namesake, Ferdinand Jr. or Bongbong, for the vice presidency of the republic.

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In an interview with reporters last week, Bongbong said he was making a bid for the vice presidency because he wanted to continue the supposed legacy of service of his father. Taking a statesmanlike posture, he did not stop there but also called on the Aquino administration to put the past behind and “move on.”

Showing no trace of remorse or embarrassment for the sordid human rights abuses and economic devastation left by the Marcos regime’s policies during 14 years of martial rule from 1972 to 1986, Bongbong had the gall to say: “What we are after is not going back to power but to continue the service we have rendered to the country. That is not an issue for us. For our part, we are just thinking of what is good for the country.”

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Bongbong talked about moving on in response to President Aquino’s expression of confidence that Filipinos would not bring another Marcos to Malacañang. Asked at a media forum hosted last week by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines whether there was a resurgence of support for the restoration of the Marcos legacy, the President replied: “No, no. I think that the answer to that is very obvious. I don’t think so.”

Mr. Aquino’s remark contradicted Bongbong’s claim that being elected by Filipinos to public office was a vindication of his family. The dictatorship was toppled in February 1986, forcing Marcos, his wife and their children to flee to Hawaii before Filipinos angered by the repression and abuses of martial law could storm Malacañang to lynch them. Now, that disgraced family is attempting a sneaky comeback to claim a prime post in a restored democracy that was dismantled by the dictator in 1972.

Since Marcos was overthrown, his heirs have been allowed to return to the Philippines and eventually to seek various government positions: The former first lady, Imelda Marcos, is now representative of Ilocos Norte (after a stint as representative of Leyte); her eldest child, Imee, is Ilocos Norte governor; and Bongbong, a three-term representative of the province, is now a senator. In a number of interviews with reporters, including one last week, Bongbong stirred up a storm when he insisted that he and his family had nothing to be sorry about. “History is already there. We cannot change what had been twisted and twist what was straight. Let history be the judge,” he said.

There are other contentious claims made by Bongbong that have affronted and outraged many Filipinos. For example, he infuriated the victims of martial law atrocities when he claimed that Filipinos were no longer concerned about human rights abuses under his father’s rule and were more concerned about their livelihood and their day-to-day problems than the past. This prompted human rights activists to say that he wanted people to forget his father’s dictatorship.

The continuing attempt of the Marcoses to make Filipinos forget the dark years was too much for Etta Rosales, a former chair of the Commission on Human Rights, to accept. Rosales, who was detained and tortured by government agents during martial law, reminded Bongbong that Filipinos would never forget that dark era. She pointed out that the problems confronting the country today are rooted in the Marcos dictatorship. “Senator Marcos should be told that no less than 10 laws dealing with human rights were passed because of human rights violations during his father’s term. If we forget these violations, then we make a mockery of the law,” she said.

“Never Again” as a battle cry for not forgetting the past is coming under revisionist attacks by the Marcos heirs, who are trying to cast the dictatorship in a favorable light in an effort to rehabilitate their position in the darkest constitutional crisis of postwar Philippines. And Marcos apologists are arguing that “Never Again” is a sterile slogan that stands in the way of moving ahead.

In this revisionist effort, the Marcos heirs are foisting on Filipinos the myth that the Philippines was a political and economic paradise under a benign reformist dictatorship. They are claiming that authoritarian rule was the formula for creating a new society from the bedlam of an ungovernable and undisciplined Third World democracy such as the Philippines in the 1970s.

This model imposed and implemented in the Philippines during the Marcos dictatorship proved to be a dangerous doctrine for the installation of a sham democracy that actually turned out to be a mechanism  for the systematic pillage of a nation’s economic resources for the personal enrichment of rapacious political families. As we shall see later, the record of the Marcos dictatorship on political rights and the economic mismanagement of the nation’s  wealth bears witness to the Philippines’ decline from a promising economy of Asia in the 1960s to a basket case in the 1970s.

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TAGS: Bongbong Marcos, Elections 2016, Ferdinand Marcos, martial law
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