Marcos ‘war medals’ exposed, questioned
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, who died in Hawaii in 1989, I serialized here, in four parts, “The Other Version of FM’s War Exploits” by Bonifacio Gillego published in WE Forum in November 1982. The piece caused the raid and closure of WE Forum and the arrest of editor Jose Burgos Jr. and staff. (Read footnote below.)
The mayor of Natividad, Pangasinan, Alfredo Balingao, reported to the 14th Infantry that on or about Nov. 18, 1944, a certain Hay Hunt of Lapham’s guerrilla unit questioned the presence of Marcos in the area and interrogated Marcos.
It was on the recommendation of Lino Patajo, Marcos’ law classmate, that Marcos joined the 14th Infantry, not the 212st of Major Barnett, some of whose members were out to avenge the prewar killing of Nalundasan who defeated Marcos’ father in the congressional election.
Marcos left Natividad on Dec. 7, 1944, and arrived at regimental headquarters of the 14th Infantry on Dec. 20, 1944. He was accompanied by an aide and bodyguard by the name of Isidro Ventura.
At this point, Rivera confirmed Manriquez’s statement that Marcos was confined to staff work as S-5 in charge of civil affairs. At no time was he ever given any patrol or combat assignment during his service with the 14th Infantry. Marcos sought transfer to USAFIP NL headquarters. On April 28, 1945, he left for Camp Spencer on a Piper Cub with Helen McQuade, an American missionary who was ill at the time. Marcos took the seat of Mrs. Romulo A. Manriquez.
To the best of his knowledge, Rivera concluded, the 14th Infantry never cited Marcos for any award or decoration. He suspected that Marcos obtained those awards under false pretenses by affidavits executed after the war or forged statements. He would not at all be surprised, he said, because sometime in March 1947, Marcos approached him to sign an affidavit claiming that the 14th Infantry commandeered carabaos and cattle from the Marcos ranch, if ever there was one in Nueva Vizcaya. He turned down the request.
Even Col. R. W. Volckmann, in his “After Battle Report, USAFIP NIL” dated Nov. 10, 1945, made no mention of Marcos at all.
Almost two years after the government shut down WE Forum, sequestered its printing plant and equipment and confiscated three new vehicles on Dec. 10, 1982, publisher Jose Burgos Jr. was technically still under house arrest, along with columnists Armando Malay, Francisco Rodrigo, Salvador Roxas Gonzales, Ernesto Rodriguez Jr., and staffers Crispin Martinez, Teddy Cecilio, Edward Burgos, Angel Tronqued and Teodoro Burgos. Still pending were the subversion case against Burgos and the WE Forum and a P4-million libel suit against Burgos filed by Jose Salindong, Venancio Duque and Brig. Gen. Sinforoso L. Duque in behalf of other war veterans who felt maligned by the newspaper’s series questioning the authenticity of President Marcos’ war medals.
The subversion case was filed with the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City; the libel case with the Manila City Fiscal’s office.
For the series on Marcos’ war medals, Burgos et al. were charged with plotting to overthrow the government. The charge stated:
“That on or about November 1982 and for sometime prior thereto, in Quezon City and elsewhere in the Philippines, and within the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court, the above-named accused, conspiring together, confederating with and mutually helping each other, being then officers and/or ranking leaders of subversive organizations, did, then and there, knowingly, willfully and feloniously, and by overt acts and/or covert acts, continue and remain officers and/or ranking leaders of the Movement for a Free Philippines (MFP), April 6 Liberation Movement (U.S.-based), April 6 Movement (locally based), Light a Fire Movement (LFM) and the Communist Party of the Philippines until their arrest on Dec. 7, 1982, save those who were newly included in this third Amended Information for the purpose of overthrowing the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and/or removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Philippines or any part thereof, with the open or covert assistance or support of a foreign power or the open or covert assistance or support from a foreign source of any association, organization, political party, group or person, public and private by force, violence, terrorism, arson, assassination, deceit or any other illegal means as in fact the above-named accused, together with the other officers and leaders of said subversive organizations have taken up arms against the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and in furtherance thereof, did, then and there, feloniously, unlawfully and knowingly have in their possession voluminous subversive materials and publications which incite people to publicly rise up in arms in order to pave the way, for the destabilization and the eventual overthrow of the government by means of force, violence, deceit, arson and other illegal means through the WE Forum, a local publication stationed in Quezon City, print, publish and circulate false derogatory and libelous stories and articles designed to subvert and undermine the people’s confidence in duly constituted authorities; and possess printing machines and other printing paraphernalia for the printing of subversive and the Communist Party of the Philippines’ propaganda materials.”
Included among the accused was Sen. Benigno S. Aquino Jr., as shown in the Third Amended Information dated July 6, 1983, and former Manila Times publisher Joaquin “Chino” Roces.
The libel suit never prospered beyond the preliminary investigations, prompting lawyers to comment that the prosecution never seriously meant to pursue the defendants to a jail sentence. Instead, the lawyers opined, “This was a case of stopping the WE Forum from publishing, period.” The prescribed one-year period for a libel suit expired.
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