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Marcos rule no model for progress

01:51 AM March 15, 2016

THE POPULAR notion is, the vice presidency is just a ceremonial position. But with reliable gossips going around that top presidential contenders are battling with major physical ailments, the position becomes crucial.

The latest survey results show candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as a top 2 contender. The son of Ferdinand Marcos, the president who declared martial law in 1972, is proud of his father, saying that the Filipinos were better off then than they are now.

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Briefly, let us look back.

When President Marcos declared martial law, he assumed the powers of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. He abolished Congress, enacted the laws himself, and then ruled by decree.

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Upon declaration of martial law, he ordered the arrest and indefinite detention of political opponents. During his regime, there were more than 3,000 politically motivated killings, 30,000 torture victims and 70,000 political prisoners.

The son boasts of the numerous infrastructure projects during his father’s reign. But his father ruled for 21 years, overstaying his legal term by 13 years. Besides, the money spent for these projects were not his but came from government loans. When the father was ousted in 1986, he fled the country with his family who brought with them gold bars, and caches of jewelry and valuables, even as they left behind $27 billion in debt that generations of Filipinos had to pay and are still paying till now.

The son claims that during his father’s reign, the Philippines was a rice exporter. That was only for two years (1977-1978), after the launching of the Masagana 99 rice production program, whose success was short-lived because it was short-sighted. The program left farmers in a debt hole deeper than before.

When the father became president in 1965, the poverty incidence in the country was at 41 percent. When he was ousted, it was 59 percent. Also, during the father’s reign, unemployment and underemployment grew in multiples.

When martial law was declared, television stations and newspapers were either closed or seized and controlled.

The sins of the father are not the sins of the son. True. But the son is heir to the estimated $10 billion of illegal wealth that the father accumulated. The son’s statement of assets and liabilities shows that he is now worth more than P400 million—an amount no public official could possibly accumulate, cleanly, in a lifetime.

Perhaps those who are inclined to go back to iron-hand rule are outraged with the worsening peace and order situation, and the drug menace. Understandable, because these are close to one’s everyday experiences.

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But the Marcos era is not the model for progress. In fact, that is exactly where the problem lies. The succeeding administrations did not divert from the Marcos formula. Then and now, the economy is driven by foreign debts, and policies are dictated by foreign interests; land ownership and rights are still concentrated on a few ruling elite; politics is still replete with graft and corruption, tutelage and patronage.

In sum, the call before and during martial law remains: Down with imperialism, feudalism, bureaucrat capitalism!

—JULIE L. PO, Linangan ng Kulturang Pilipino, jlp704@yahoo.com

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TAGS: dictator, EDSA, Ferdinand Marcos, letter, marcos, martial law, opinion, People Power
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