The clandestine burial of the dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani last Nov. 18 is vintage Ferdinand Marcos: sinister, treacherous, unapologetic.
Sinister. Many officials and pundits used the words “like a thief in the night” to describe the surprise interment, forgetting that the phrase was used in the Bible to describe Jesus’ second coming. On hindsight, that might be the Marcos game plan: to make this burial a mark for the wretched resurrection of their political dynasty.
Watching the press conference of the Marcos family immediately after the ceremony at the Libingan, one cannot mistake the look of vindication on Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos’ face. “Kasama namin kayong nangarap nanalangin sa halos tatlong dekada na makita ang araw na ito,” she said, and reading between the lines, we know what she really meant. Three decades after being removed from power, now they have not only successfully buried the strongman among the ranks of fallen heroes, their family is also almost at the gates of Malacañang.
Treacherous. Remember how then President Marcos engineered the declaration of martial law through a series of staged violent acts? His burial reeks of the same brand of deceit.
President Duterte, whom the Marcos family credits for the fulfillment of the dictator’s wishes, frequently emphasizes that the burial will contribute to the healing of the nation. Yet in the aftermath of the clandestine interment, more old wounds are opening.
On one hand, the burial may have been kept secret for fear of sparking mass protests. That in itself still proves how deep the Filipino people still resent Marcos’ tyrannical rule. (Nonetheless, indignation rallies erupted all over the country immediately after news of his interment broke.) On the other hand, it also proves the lengths to which the Duterte administration is willing to go just to adhere to the demands of the Marcoses, even if it means subverting and revising history. Be it due to a debt of gratitude or any other reason, the administration is complicit in this sordid tale.
Unapologetic. The Marcos family’s self-styled “private family affair” blatantly disregards the violence, the deaths, and the millions upon millions stolen by the dictatorship. Never mind the fact that the Marcoses have not yet even been held accountable for their vile deeds. Never mind that countless families are still looking for their missing loved ones, the ones who, during the dark days of martial law, were abducted, tortured, and summarily executed.
In the Libingan ng mga Bayani, there now lies a black marble slab with this epitaph: “Ferdinand E. Marcos, Filipino.” And that is yet again another vicious masterstroke.
Calling Marcos a “Filipino” is in itself a grave insult to the nation, a nation that once united and toppled his tyrannical rule.
The lesson this dark episode teaches us is to remember: Remember that the trademark moves of a dictator seldom change. Remember that the tyranny of martial law still lingers in the dark, waiting for the right moment to catch us unaware. The faces may change, dictators may be conferred undeserved honors, yet what is more sinister is if we once again fall into the hands of another strongman, if due to our short memory we fail to read the writing on the wall.
Beyond our rightful rage, this is a chance for us to get our act together and turn the tide of historical revisionism. The debate on the burial of the dictator in the Libingan should not end on mere hysterics. The task ahead is to expose the system that has allowed dictators to rise, fall, and in the end, be vindicated. The task ahead is to actively oppose this system, lest it pounce on all of us at the most unpredictable time.
Marjohara Tucay is the national president of Kabataan Partylist.
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