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Marcos ‘war medals’ exposed, questioned (2)

MOMENTS BEFORE THE FALL. President Ferdinand Marcos speaks from the Malacañang balcony shortly before his ouster, ending a 21-year rule, including 13 years of martial law. C. FERNANDEZ/CONTRIBUTOR

MOMENTS BEFORE THE FALL. President Ferdinand Marcos speaks from the Malacañang balcony shortly before his ouster, ending a 21-year rule, including 13 years of martial law. C. FERNANDEZ/CONTRIBUTOR

Because of the outcry of tens of thousands of victims of the Marcos dictatorship over President Duterte’s plan to bury in the Libingan ng mga Bayani the corpse of president-dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. who died in Hawaii in 1989, I am serializing the piece “The Other Version of FM’s War Exploits”  by Bonifacio Gillego published in WE Forum in November 1982.  The long piece caused the raid and closure of WE Forum and the arrest of editor Jose Burgos Jr. and staff. It is included in the book “Press Freedom Under Siege: Reportage that Challenged the Marcos Dictatorship” (UP Press, 2017).

A strict accounting of the Marcos medals that would include such essential details as the General Order number, the date of issue and the issuing headquarters would reveal the following:

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Eleven of the 33 awards were given in 1963.

Ten of the 11 awards given in 1963 were given on the same day, Dec. 20, 1963.

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Three awards were given in one General Order, also issued on Dec. 20, 1963.

One award was given in 1972.

Eight of the “33 American and Philippine Medals” (“President Marcos: A Political Profile,” Office of the Philippines) are, strictly speaking, not medals but campaign ribbons which all participants in the defense of Bataan and in the resistance movement are entitled to.

Awards are duplicated for the same action at the same place on the same day.

One is a Special Award given by the Veterans Federation of the Philippines.

All these are included in the count of 33 and foisted upon the unwary public as having been awarded to Marcos during the war. To repeat, most of the medals claimed had been acquired long after the end of World War II.

Even as late as 1972, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) gave Marcos on his birthday the Philippine Legion of Honor (G .O. 121, GHQ, AFP, Sept. 11, 1972).

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On Dec. 20, 1963, almost 20 years after the end of World War II, the AFP awarded Marcos for services in Bataan and in the resistance movement two Distinguished Conduct Stars; two Distinguished Service Stars, two Gold Cross Medals; and three Wounded Soldier’s Medals.

One General Order alone (No. 155, GHQ AFP, Dec. 20, 1963) granted Marcos three medals for having been allegedly wounded in Bataan on April 5, 1942 and on April 7, 1942 and in Kiangan, Mt. Province on March 17, 1945.

If these awards were truly deserved why were they not conferred earlier? What prompted the AFP to go on an awarding splurge one day in December 1963? Those in the know believe that President Macapagal allowed the AFP to give Marcos awards so an appeased Marcos would not contest his (Macapagal’s) bid for reelection.

For identical citation as guerrilla and underground leader, Marcos received two Distinguished Service Stars (G.O. 435, HPA, April 24, 1945 and G.O. 152, GHQ AFP, Dec. 20, 1963). For the same action at Panupdupan on April 5, 1945 when allegedly Marcos singlehandedly forced the enemy to withdraw after 30 minutes of combat, Marcos received two Distinguished Conduct Stars: on Oct. 16, 1963 (G.O. 124, GHQ AFP), and another on Dec. 20, 1963 (G.O. 157, GHQ AFP).

Both Col. Romulo A. Manriquez, commanding officer of the 14th Infantry, and Capt. Vicente L. Rivera, adjutant of the same unit, in their signed testimonies, stated that Marcos had no participation whatsoever in any combat operations during his service with the 14th Infantry. As commanding officer of the 14th Infantry, Col. Manriquez never recommended as there was no basis at all, Marcos for any award. If Marcos, as claimed, was ever wounded at all, Col. Manriquez quipped, it must be that Marcos was bitten by a leech.

With the wholesale and indiscriminate grant of awards in one day, the duplications, the multiple awards in one General Order, the inclusion of the campaign ribbons, etc., Marcos is truly the most decorated Filipino soldier in World War II by extrapolation.

One wonders how the future will reckon with this man who has so audaciously, and unconscionabIy distorted our military records when men of the caliber of Col. Romulo A. Manriquez, Col. Narciso Manzano and Capt. Vicente L. Rivera will come out and speak the truth.

In consideration of Marcos’ legal background, Manriquez assigned him as S-5 in charge of Civil Affairs. From the time Marcos joined the 14th Infantry to the time he asked for transfer to the headquarters of the USAF IP NL in Luna, La Union, Marcos was never involved in any patrol or combat operations. How could he, in conscience, Manriquez said, recommend a person for an award who had not even fired a single shot at an enemy he had never even seen while in Kiangan?

He recalled that one day in March, Sergeant Manat, a native of Bambang, Nueva Vizcaya, came running to headquarters to report sighting of Japanese troops about a kilometer away. He thus placed headquarters personnel on alert and in position. He said he saw Marcos run to a nearby creek raising his .45-caliber pistol with a quavering hand. The Japanese were apparently enroute to safer grounds beyond guerrilla reach so the RCP was not subjected to any attack. But as reports of more Japanese troop movements were received at the RCP, Marcos, Manriquez said, asked for a transfer to Volckmann’s headquarters in Camp Spencer, Luna, La Union.

Thus the saga of Marcos “heroism” in Kiangan, according to Colonel Manriquez, who vowed to face any person or court to expose Marcos. This much, he said, he owes to the real heroes of the 14th Infantry under his command who died in genuine operations in Kiangan.

Asked if he knew anyone in his staff who could have signed an affidavit on behalf of Marcos, he recalled that his communications officer then, Lt. Conceso Bejec, was asked by Marcos for an affidavit. But, he said, he advised Bejec not to. It was at this juncture that Colonel Manriquez mentioned his former adjutant, Capt. Vicente L. Rivera. (Continued next week.)

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