Bury him where he is and be done with it
President Duterte wishes that the corpse of Ferdinand Edralin Marcos be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Naturally, both the mainstream media and Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and every other blog are afire with memes and online polls of the “share if you agree” variety, which are tons of fun but not really statistically valid.
Ironically the right to free speech that Filipinos are now basking in, and gleefully abusing online, was the very first thing Marcos curtailed when he issued Letter of Instruction No. 1 closely on the heels of Presidential Decree No. 1081.
Here is the text of that letter of instruction, dated Sept. 22, 1972, and addressed to Press Secretary Francisco “Kit” Tatad:
“In view of the present national emergency which has been brought about by the activities of those who are actively engaged in a criminal conspiracy to seize political and state power in the Philippines and to take over the Government by force and violence the extent of which has now assumed the proportion of an actual war against our people and their legitimate Government, and pursuant to Proclamation No. 1081 dated Sept. 21, 1972, and in my capacity as commander-in-chief of all the armed forces of the Philippines and in order to prevent the use of privately owned newspapers, magazines, radio and television facilities and all other media of communications, for propaganda purposes against the government and its duly constituted authorities or for any purpose that tends to undermine the faith and confidence of the people in our Government and aggravate the present national emergency, you are hereby ordered forthwith to take over and control or cause the taking over and control of all such newspapers, magazines, radio and television facilities and all other media of communications, wherever they are, for the duration of the present national emergency, or until otherwise ordered by me or my duly designated representative.”
Contrary to popular belief, putting an entire country under martial law is an extremely delicate political and military maneuver with so many moving parts. History shows that it took decades of meticulous planning before all elements were in place and Marcos could pull the trigger. It started from the time he promised his constituents an Ilocano presidency in 20 years if they elected him to the House of Representatives in 1949, to his impassioned State of the Nation Address where he strongly hinted at something called constitutional authoritarianism all the way to the eve of the Battle of Mendiola. Along the way, he cunningly co-opted the military to do his bidding through a masterful combination of political largesse, a promise of greatness, and old-school horse-trading.
That declaration finally came on Sept. 23, 1972, but PD 1081 was signed two days earlier, on a date divisible by seven. All forms of opposition were systematically—violently—rooted out and silenced. The omnipotent Marcos regime spawned crony capitalism with the “Rolex 12,” all the while hoodwinking the citizenry with tales of economic prosperity and peace and order under a “New Society.”
But the cracks began to show as early as 1975, when Primitivo Mijares, a close confidant of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, fled to the United States and started writing a book on the “conjugal dictatorship.” In his foreword, Mijares said his book was unfinished and that the Filipino people would finish it for him. In over 400 pages, he chronicled the “reign of greed” at a level of detail that could only come from someone whom the dictator and his wife trusted implicitly.
Wrote Mijares on April 27, 1976: “To the remaining democracies all over the world, this book is offered us a case study on how a democratically-elected President could operate within the legal system and yet succeed in subverting that democracy in order to perpetuate himself and his wife as conjugal dictators… However, history teaches us that dictators always fall, either on account of their own corrupt weight or sheer physical exhaustion. I am hopeful that this work would somehow set off, or contribute to the ignition of, a chain reaction that would compel Marcos to relinquish his vise-like dictatorial grip on his own countrymen.
“When the Filipino is then set free, and could participate in cheerful cry over the restoration of freedom and democracy in the Philippines, that cry shall be the fitting finish to this, my humble work.”
Mijares paid the ultimate price for his belief in the Filipino people. He simply vanished from the face of the earth. His 16-year-old son, Boyet, was abducted in 1977. Boyet’s dead body was later found bearing signs of severe torture. Mijares and his son are just two of the 3,240 killed, 70,000 imprisoned, and 34,000 tortured by the Marcos dictatorship, as reported by Amnesty International.
But historical revisionists and those with little to no sense of legacy would say that all of that happened a long time ago. Marcos is dead, they say, and so it’s time to move on.
That being the case, there really shouldn’t be any argument about where the dictator’s final resting place should be. Let’s leave the man in peace right where he is now. He’s dead. He doesn’t care. We have better things to do, and a nation to rebuild.
Butch Hernandez ([email protected]) is the executive director of the Eggie Apostol Foundation.
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