May 20, 2011

Marcos is no hero

Another revolting turn in the stomach-churning political scene in this country confronts us. The heirs to the Marcosian legacy of economic sabotage and plunder of the nation’s coffers, state terrorism and fascist abuse of the citizenry, and kowtowing to foreign imperialist impositions are now calling for the burial of the dictator Marcos’ petrified remains in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

The resurrection of the idea to transfer the remains of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos to what is traditionally regarded as hallowed burial grounds for the nation’s heroes is outrageous and infuriating, especially for the direct victims of martial rule.

But it is an abomination still waiting to happen.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s nerve to sound the call after barely warming his seat in the Senate is not surprising. But the effrontery and collective amnesia of a big majority of legislators in the Lower House who signed HOR Resolution 1135 and the lack of a clear-cut stand much less official resistance from Malacañang is alarming.

In truth, the process of rehabilitation of the Marcos name began soon after his regime was overthrown.

We thought then that the Marcos Dictatorship had been swept away, ignominiously, into the dustbin of history where it belonged. But we were sorely mistaken.

The Cory Aquino regime failed - refused, even -- to lay the ground for the full condemnation and repudiation of the dictatorship.

Marcos-era fascist decrees and laws remain and are still used to suppress dissent and opposition to government policies and programs. Most of the perpetrators of human rights violations among the military and police, especially the most notorious ones, were never prosecuted much less convicted. A yardstick of failure of post-Marcos regimes, especially Mrs. Aquino’s, to prosecute martial law criminals is the failure to identify and prosecute the masterminds behind the assassination of her husband, the martyr, Benigno Aquino Jr.

The Marcos heirs, his cronies and henchmen of various stripes (from ex-generals and politicians to high-living technocrats, well-paid hacks and other apologists) have been able to protect their ill-gotten wealth, reputations and positions of power and influence from any demands for accountability much less restitution.

The public hardly notices that even in the field of education, with its decisive impact on molding the national consciousness, the lessons of martial rule especially its grievous effects on society, are not correctly and sufficiently taught much less emphasized.

It is no wonder that the Marcoses, including Imelda, the other half of the conjugal dictatorship, whose name is synonymous with profligacy of gargantuan proportions, are now no longer social pariahs but are on the guest list of the many “high society” happenings hereabouts.

It follows then that the plunder, brutal suppression of human rights, the culture of impunity as well as the corruption and criminality endemic in government institutions, including the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police, continues unabated. All these can be attributed to the mindset and the practice honed to perfection during the martial law years.

Through all these, the ruling regimes that succeeded Marcos were content to point to the restoration of formal democratic trappings like elections and Congress, as proof that the martial law era and its attendant evils are long past.

What they conveniently obscure, if not conceal, is that the economic and political crisis that brought about the dictatorship, was aggravated by it, and continues to fester even after its overthrow, is still very much around, providing the very same conditions for a return to authoritarianism and fascism.

By continuing the pro-foreign capital and anti-people economic policies of the Marcos era, succeeding regimes plunged our nation to deeper indebtedness and depression, causing increasing hardship and misery on our people, thus reinforcing the claim and illusion that life after martial law was worse and Marcos was a better ruler.

Meanwhile, the HOR resolution from the Marcos camp, at best, is another attempt at testing the waters, and the official response so far sends the signal that "it looks okay so long as it doesn't pull down our popularity and satisfaction ratings". How else to explain the gingerly, tentative, buck-passing and "survey-conscious" response from Malacañang?

Consider that the resolution merely recycles most of the arguments that have long been exposed as outright lies (e.g. “decorated soldier” versus fake medals) or half-lies (e.g. “built the modern foundations of the Philippines” versus leading the economy to further ruin).

But the biggest argument that deserves to be demolished is that burying the dictator Marcos as a “hero” is a "magnanimous act of reconciliation which will strengthen the bonds of solidarity among the Filipino people".

The resolution outwardly appeals to the magnanimity of Mr. Aquino, son of the most prominent Marcos rival and martial law victim. But in fact, the resolution insults the President, not to mention the Filipino people, counting on their gullibility and total incapacity for discernment.

Mr. Aquino’s tepid response to the outrageous proposal is bound to embolden its proponents. But both grossly underestimate the people's intelligence and their opposition to notions of reconciliation without justice or, simply put, the politics of accommodation among factions of the same ruling elite.

Those whose memory and scruples are not as limited, the victims of gross injustices and all those who would not want their children and grandchildren to suffer the horrors the Filipino people were subjected to by the Marcos rule, are bound to vehemently oppose this effort to bestow honor to a discredited tyrant and despot.

Seven representatives from the progressive party lists Bayan Muna, Anakpawis, Gabriela Women’s Party, Kabataan and ACT Party Lists have sponsored a resolution opposing the Marcos resolution. It sums up the arguments against the proposal to bury Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani thus:

"NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the House of Representatives strongly oppose renewed proposals to bury former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani as a grave travesty of justice; a monumental historical distortion tantamount to declaring as a hero a dictator who committed crimes against humanity, plunged the nation deeper into foreign debt and control and plundered the nation’s resources; and a renunciation of the historic 1986 people power uprising which toppled Marcos.” #

Published in Business World
20-21 May 2011


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