In What Way Did Marcos Regime Serve Country?

Get Real
By Solita Collas-Monsod
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:08:00 02/25/2011

I DON’T agree that the sins of the fathers should be visited on their children in the sense that they are made to suffer for what their fathers did, unless of course they were complicit. Which is why I wish Bongbong Marcos and his sister Imee all the best in their political careers. I certainly don’t think they were complicit in the havoc wreaked by their father on the Philippines, and it seems that the Filipino people don’t think so either, having elected Bongbong to the Senate, although it took them 24 years to get around to it. (Being elected to Congress and as governor is a lot easier, because their provincemates certainly benefited from their father’s largesse while in power.)

But I draw the line at Bongbong’s attempt to revise history, as it were, and make his father out to be some sort of unappreciated and unrecognized hero whose service to the Philippines will eventually be recognized and appreciated (“history will judge,” or words to that effect). And not being content with that, Bongbong has recently contended that had his father not been forced to leave office, the Philippines would be a Singapore by now. Also, he now wants his father to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (apparently since Gen. Angelo Reyes has been given that honor).

One has to ask Bongbong the following questions:

1. Was the torture, disappearance or death of at least 10,000 Filipinos during the course of his father’s martial law regime a service to the country? If so, in what way? Ferdinand Marcos did say, early on, that there was a tradeoff between political freedoms and economic growth to get more bread, we have to give up some freedom. As we will see in the following, we not only lost our freedom, we lost our bread too.

2. Was the coddling of the military and the financial rewards given them during his regime a service to the country? In what way? Because that “tradition” seems to have been continued all the way up to now, and I still can?t see what benefits have come from it.

3. Was the coddling of certain favored businessmen, the so-called “cronies”, a service to the country? If so, in what way?

4. Was the collapse of the economy in late 1983 a service to the country? If so, in what way? The Philippines was the only country in Asia that succumbed to the international debt crisis. And it took 17 years before the Philippines was able to regain the real per capita income levels we lost during that crisis.

5. Was the accumulation of foreign debt by the Marcos regime a service to the country? If so, in what way? Our external debt to GDP ratio rose from 31 percent in 1971 to 94 percent in 1986 with the debt service claiming one-third of the national government budget and nothing to show for it but a collapsed economy.

Aside from the collapsed state of the economy when Ferdinand Marcos was forced by the People Power Revolution to leave the country, it is difficult to imagine how he could have steered the economy toward Singapore status, as he was already a very sick man then and in fact he died three years later (after a 10-month hospital stay) of heart, lung and kidney ailments. It seems, though, that the younger Marcos assumes his Dad would have miraculously regained his health.

Another implicit assumption in Bongbong’s claims is that had the United States government not forced the issue and flown the Marcos family out of the country (by supposedly pretending that he was to be flown to Paoay, Ilocos Norte), Ferdinand Marcos would not only have survived the Edsa Revolution, he would have been victorious. Given the actual events, a much more likely scenario would be that his father would have died under house arrest or worse in the Philippines.

And finally for the issue of Ferdinand Marcos being buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani: this has cropped up again because, it would seem, if General Reyes was allowed burial there with honors, so should Marcos. Excuse me. The analogy between Marcos and Reyes is really stretching it. Compared to the sins of Marcos?the wanton human rights violations, the suppression of the Filipino people for 14 years, accumulation of hundreds of millions of dollars ($658 million in Swiss banks) in unexplained wealth (Catalino Generillo cites this 2003 Supreme Court ruling: “Their [the Marcos income from 1966-1985] only known lawful income of US$304,372.43 can therefore legally and fairly serve as basis for determining the existence of prima facie case of forfeiture of the Swiss funds). Reyes’ flaws are as nothing. (No case had even been brought up against him at the time of his death.) Moreover, to Reyes has been attributed the avoidance of a possible military takeover from Estrada. No contest.

From the above, it would seem that nothing good has resulted from the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. But there are the proverbial silver linings in the dark cloud of dictatorship. Let us count them: Internationally, the Philippines gave the world the glorious and much-copied example of People Power, whose 25th anniversary we are now celebrating; and countries who have overthrown their dictators are now in a better position to get back the money stolen from them because, as a result of the Marcos stash in Swiss banks, the Swiss (bankers, legislators) have instituted reforms. Nationally, because of our experience with martial law, we have become jealous of our freedom, and have rejected any and all military coup attempts around eight so far.

That should console Bongbong.


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