The Marcoses are making us forget

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Oscar P. Lagman

To Take A Stand

This file photo taken on June 7, 2007 shows former first lady Imelda Marcos is seen in her apartment in Manila with a gallery of paintings including a Picasso, seen at upper right. Philippine authorities moved on September 30, 2014 to seize paintings by Picasso, Gauguin, Miro, Michelangelo and other masters held by Imelda Marcos after getting a court order against the former first lady. -- AFP

I wrote in this column on Sept. 11, 1990:

“Today some boisterous activities will remind us that it is the birth anniversary of Ferdinand Marcos. Yes, let us not forget.

“Let us not forget the 13 years of tyranny and the 20 years of looting of the country. Let us not forget the mockery of the Constitution. This man who swore twice, in 1965 and 1969, to uphold and defend the Constitution, disregarded it totally when he held on to the post of president after his term had expired under that Constitution.

“He promulgated laws and decrees that the basic law of the land had not empowered him to do. He made a travesty of the 1973 Constitution, which was crafted under his promptings, by usurping the powers vested by that Constitution before it was ratified and became in force and effect.

“Let us not forget his sadistic torture of the people. Upon proclamation of martial law, he ordered his troops to arrest and detain his political opponents, militant student and labor leaders, and media critics. According to Task Force Detainees, more than 70,000 citizens were arrested and detained, and at least 2,250 tortured and salvaged, from the time martial law was imposed on Sept. 23, 1972 to October 1985. In most cases, no charges or complaints were filed against those arrested. Many gave gruesome accounts of beatings with rifle butts, burning of private parts, water cure, electric shock, and savage gang rapes.

“Let us not forget his muzzling of the press. He shut down media establishments and imposed government control over the other means of communication. He padlocked printing machines and broadcast facilities. However, he reopened within hours KBS Channel 9 to announce the proclamation of martial law and to propagandize his New Society.

“Let us not forget his subjugation and prostitution of the judiciary. He turned the Supreme Court, which in the early 1950s earned the sobriquet “the last bulwark of the civil liberties,” into a political instrument by packing it with fawning former classmates and docile followers. He reduced the judiciary into a submissive adjunct of Malacañang. By issuing LoI No. 11, which required judges to submit their resignations, a judge could be dismissed from the service for any fancied cause by simply accepting his resignation. The judiciary could only do the despot’s bidding. If our judiciary is perceived as being hopeless and contemptible, it is because it is still packed with Marcos lackeys and mercenaries.

“Let us not forget that the late dictator politicized and corrupted the officer corps of the military. He licensed commanding generals and provincial commanders to exercise political powers preciously exercised by civilian authorities. Generals regularly sat in Cabinet meetings and even in the KBL [Kilusang Bagong Lipunan] caucus sessions. It is these powers and influence that the military officers spoiled by the Marcos regime now long for and are itching to grab. Many amassed unexplained wealth. A number of generals ran smuggling, gambling, drug, and even carnapping syndicates.

“Let us not forget that Marcos looted the country clean. There is no need to detail this matter here as the Imelda Marcos trial in New York gave the minutest details of this thievery. The details were never disputed. If the jury acquitted Imelda, it is because the naïve members (Americans) of the jury fell for the ludicrous claim that Imelda never knew of the 20-year looting.

“Let us not forget either that some of those who aided, abetted, and applauded the repression, pillage, torture, and looting now aspire, plot, and scheme to take over the reins of government. Let us not forget either that a number of those who allowed themselves to be used as instruments of that regime now serve in the present government as Cabinet members, bureau directors, members of both Houses of Congress, directors and managers of PCGG-run companies.

“Let us not forget all these so that 27 years from now, when the 100th birth anniversary of Marcos is observed by those he made rich and powerful, he will not be called ‘that great Filipino president,’ as government owned and controlled TV stations referred to former president Elpidio Quirino on the 100th anniversary of his birth.”

As I wrote here just three weeks ago, Quirino was the president who so outraged the Filipino people that in the election of 1953, 70% of the voters chose to boot him out of office and elect Ramon Magsaysay president.

Well, Ferdinand Marcos may not have been referred to as “that great president” but he has been described in a way that virtually calls him not only great but “the greatest.” At a forum held at the Mariano Marcos State University last Sept. 8, De La Salle political science professor Antonio Contreras said Marcos was the “most intellectual president the country ever had.”

The following day Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos, eldest child of Marcos, quoted what her father said upon landing in Honolulu after they were chased out of the country by the enraged Filipino people, “To my family and to everyone, history is not done with me yet.”

Indeed, history is not done with Marcos yet.

His family is expected to be zealous in revising the narrative on the Marcos presidency — by means both fair and foul but mostly by the latter kind. But associate justices of the Supreme Court were thought to be above chicanery. But nine members of the Court rewrote history when they justified the burial of Marcos in the cemetery by claiming that Marcos was a war hero honorably discharged and that he had not been convicted of any crimes involving moral turpitude.

Yesterday, former First Lady Imelda Marcos and her children celebrated the 100th birth anniversary of the former president not in Batac, Ilocos Norte where he was born but at the Libingan ng mga Bayani was symbolical. It affirms he is a “bayani.” It also suggests that the bad things about him are interred with his bones.

Yesterday was declared by President Duterte a non-working holiday in Ilocos Norte. It may not be far-fetched to expect the President, a confessed admirer of Marcos to declare Sept. 11 a national holiday in the near future.

Oscar P. Lagman, Jr. is a member of Manindigan! a cause-oriented group of businessmen, professionals, and academics.