I recently shared my colleague Benign0’s article on my Facebook wall regarding his critique on Leni Robredo supporters seeing their bet as their last bastion of hope for the dying yellow anti-Marcos glib. A good friend of mine told me that Benign0’s observation for the demographic of Robredo’s followers can similarly be used for Duterte’s followers. She notes that Benign0’s article is lacking in explanation and it merely sounds like a lot of grunting. As in any marketing or messaging, she says that you have to have a “reason to believe” and sadly, my good friend seems to be suggesting that Benign0’s article is severely wanting. While I do not wish to speak for Benign0 and defend his position (he can very much handle it on his own), I would like to state my personal take on why I think that the yellow brand is bankrupt and why many people have now started to rise above the glib perpetuated by the yellow narrative.
It seems to me that the main motivation of Robredo supporters in pushing for her victory is to prevent Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. (BBM) from winning the Vice Presidency of the country. For them, BBM winning the Vice Presidency is a prelude to the return of the rule of the most evil and corrupt family that lived in the Philippines (and perhaps the whole world) – the Marcos family. Of course, the late President Ferdinand E. Marcos (father of BBM) has been lambasted for human rights abuses committed under his dictatorial regime during the Martial Law years. In addition, he has been dubbed as one of the most corrupt leaders the country has ever had. The yellow narrative, which is pretty much what Robredo supporters have been pontificating, is suggesting that should BBM win the Vice Presidency the country would return to the “dark ages” where freedom will again be lost (through Martial Rule) and corruption will again engulf the country. Geez, it sounds like a darn monster movie!
First point, the Marcosian Martial Law era was indeed a turbulent one. There is no denying that there were abuses committed during that time and even BBM has acknowledged that (although many of his critics decry his refusal to apologize for the purported “sins” of his father during that period). Never mind the absurd notion of putting the blame for the “sins” of the father on the son (I’ve never read about any demands for Ninoy Aquino to apologize for his father’s collaboration with the Japanese invaders during World War 2 and there seems to be a deafening silence regarding having President Noynoy Aquino to apologize for his father’s treason). Personally, I believe it is a mistake to solely place the blame on President Marcos the horrors of the Martial Law era. My inclination seems to be congruent to what De LaSalle University political science professor Antonio P. Contreras stated in his blog. He said:
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I condemn the abuses committed during Martial Law. I accuse those who caused the disappearances of my brothers in my UP organization. But I firmly believe that the judgment on Martial Law should be a personal choice, and a product of personal reflection, and not as a collective expression of group thinking that uniformly condemns as if the whole era was a monolithic narrative of terror and suffering.
Not to justify violence, but I reiterate my view that the way martial law should be talked about is to turn its victims into martyrs. If there were innocent victims, these were the children and the loved ones orphaned by those who actively took up arms, mobilized by an ideology that promised a revolution that would overthrow the feudal and bureaucrat-capitalist systems that Marcos did not produce, but in fact produced him. Those who died, were tortured, and disappeared were willing combatants, and were casualties of an ideological war. Martial law was not a genocidal episode where people were murdered by mere possession of ascribed traits of being women, or being peasants, or being poor. Martial law was a period of tumult and contentious ideological battles, where ideological choices were made which aimed to dismantle and overthrow a state. The state fought back with its legitimate monopoly for the use of violence. Those who were caught up in the violence that it unleashed were in fact committed martyrs and not as innocent victims, all possessing their acquired ideologies from reading the red-book and attending teach-ins.
I weep for the innocent children orphaned, the husbands and wives widowed, the parents who had to do an act contrary to natural law where the old are the ones burying their children if their bodies are ever found, of brothers losing sisters, and sisters being left behind by brothers. But they are casualties too of the ideological choices their loved ones had to make.
To blame the complex system of pain and suffering to one man, and one tainted surname, would be too simplistic. Doing so is simply falling into the game of political opportunists who would like to turn a significant period of our history as simply a duel between two oligarchic dynasties.
Many are accusing us of having no sense of history, when in reality our tragedy is that our history is always written from the point of view of those who won, and is turned into an elite narrative that is hijacked by a kind of story-telling that turns it into a simplified dualism between good and evil that leaves out a lot of the nuances of a complex era.
The way I see it, the simplistic glib being peddled by the yellow cult seems as ridiculous as the narrative of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement where all the suffering of and injustice on the Blacks are blamed on the oppression by White people (not just in the recent past but throughout history). Marissa Johnson, one of the most prominent founders of the BLM movement said:
White Americans have created the conditions that require a phrase like ‘Black Lives Matter.’
Do you know how horrific it is to grow up as a child in a world that so hates you? That you have to literally say to other people, ‘My life matters,’ and they’re like, ‘Well everybody’s life matters,’ while you’re literally being gunned down in the street, while you’re being rounded up and mass incarcerated and forced into prison slavery.
Johnson is essentially suggesting that Whites have caused the devaluation of Black lives. First of all, why on Earth would Johnson (or anyone) solely blame White people for Black people’s miseries? She seems to be (conveniently) neglecting a multitude of factors for success such as work ethic, education, values, and motivation. Why on Earth would she blame the Whites for the devaluation of Black lives? It would be a mistake to invoke the oppression of Blacks throughout history due to the evil racist nature of the Whites. To do so is again to be ignorant of a multitude of historical facts. For instance, the Blacks tag the Whites for being ‘racist’ as they were brought to Europe and America as slaves. But if we look at the history of slavery, tribal leaders from Gambia, the Congo, and other African nations supplied the Europeans with stock in the slave trade. The book “A Short History of Africa” states that:
The procurement of the slaves was sometimes by raids into the interior, or even actual wars, but more usually by trading agreements with the local native rulers or by providing them with military help against their African enemies.
Slavery was not borne out of pure racism but for economic reasons. There was a flourishing slave trade in Africa supplying slaves to meet the labor demands of European countries and America. Sure, we can fault the unenlightened white slave masters at the time for treating the slaves as mere means but to ignore the other side of the coin where African tribal leaders (who were also Blacks) actually supplied the slaves would be smacking of ignorance and intellectual dishonesty.
In the same token, why solely put the blame on President Marcos for the horrors of Martial Law when the “victims” voluntarily took up arms or engaged in civil disobedience to fight for their ideology against the government? Why negate the government’s legitimate right to protect the country for such subversives? The President, under the 1935 Constitution (which was effective at the time) states that:
The President shall be commander-in-chief of all armed forces of the Philippines, and, whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, insurrection, or rebellion. In case of invasion, insurrection, or rebellion or imminent danger thereof, when the public safety requires it, he may suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or place the Philippines or any part thereof under Martial Law.
It wasn’t merely a matter of freedom of speech being exercised by the combatants but a revolution to overthrow a state purportedly under a feudal bureaucratic-capitalist system. As Prof. Contreras said, it was an ideological war. To negate the other side and merely parrot the line of solely blaming everything on one man either smacks of ignorance or intellectual dishonesty (or perhaps even both).
My friend told me that there is no comparison between the BLM movement and Robredo supporters. She opines that people being upset about one of the most corrupt leaders of all time do not have anything to do with self-pity. On the contrary, I see a very similar bankrupt mindset with the two camps. Both camps perpetuate a narrative that is overly simplified into a dualism between good and evil that leaves out a lot of complex factors.
Now as to the second point – the dreadful corruption of President Marcos, the yellow narrative perpetuates the notion that Marcos stole some 10 billion dollars from the government’s coffers. Many people are not familiar with some significant findings regarding Marcos’ wealth. In 1999, ex-priest Marcelino Tagle of Bataan, a former director of Caritas Manila and one of the nation’s “Ten Outstanding Young Men’ in 1967, gave an account of the nature of the Marcosian wealth. Tagle once served as an adviser to Marcos and administrator for the estate of Father Jose Antonio Diaz (a.k.a. Col. Severino Sto. Romana) who was revealed to be the real source of Marcos’ wealth. In an article from the Philippine Daily Inquirer back in 1999, it stated:
Tagle said the Vatican gold included “gold bars captured by Hitler. The gold bars belonged to the royalties of Europe, of which the Vatican was trustee.’ It also included “royal gold’, which the British reportedly shipped to Singapore for safekeeping in the event that Hitler would conquer all of Europe.
Tagle said that the Vatican entrusted the treasure to a certain Father Jose Antonio Diaz, who assumed several names when he moved to the Philippines. One of his aliases, according to Tagle, was “Col. Severino Sto. Romana.” Tagle said Sto. Romana hired the young Marcos as his lawyer and trustee. He said the Sto. Romana gold was “actually more than the Marcos gold, about $50 trillion, but this treasure is tied up with the Marcos gold.’
Tagle, co-administrator of the Sto. Romana estates, said the Yamashita treasure was recovered through the help of MacArthur and Yamashita’s wife. But an estimated 400,000 metric tons from both the Marcos and Sto. Romana gold, he said, “are still in the country, hidden incaves.’
For Lack of Documents
The heirs of Sto. Romana were unable to recover the assets “for lack of original documents and (because of the) nature of the accounts (which required) full cooperation of nominees and trustees constituted by the late President Marcos.’
Appearing before the Senate blue ribbon committee on October 14, 1997, Tagle said Marcos, as lawyer and chief trustee of Sto. Romana succeeded in isolating the nominees or trustees of the gold certificates from the physical assets – so much so that it is almost impossible to recover them without piecing the various pieces like a mosaic.’
Tagle said the “Marcos gold was not stolen from the Philippine government.’ Instead, said the former priest, Marcos abused his authority by using the Central Bank to transact the gold”.
Tagle’s statements seem to match Conrado Limcaoco Jr.’s account of the Marcos wealth. In a letter submitted by Limcaoco to President Cory Aquino in 1989, Limcaoco notes the details of the nature of Marcos’ wealth. In that letter, it was revealed that Marcos’ wealth was indeed from gold from Sto. Romana that ended up into Marcos’ control by virtue of a Power of Attorney. Very similar to Tagle’s description there was no mention of stealing the wealth from the government coffers. It appears that President Cory Aquino has known the details during her rule yet this information was not widely spread in public. Why? I would argue that it is in the best interest of the yellows to perpetuate the image of Marcos as having stolen from the government coffers instead of merely having engaged in a scheme to secure wealth through gold transactions. As Arthur Schopenhauer once said:
The discovery of truth is prevented more effectively, not by the false appearance things present and which mislead into error, not directly by weakness of the reasoning powers, but by preconceived opinion, by prejudice.
It is indeed this preconceived opinion or prejudice perpetuated by the yellows that Marcos has pilfered the people’s money that is more effective for their purposes than it is to reveal that Marcos’ wealth was rooted in gold transaction schemes (gold that was not the government’s to begin with).
It is quite amusing how my good friend thinks that Leni Robredo supporters are more of the educated type (which she said she based on her observations from social media). Never mind that statistics actually show that BBM supporters tend to have more education, it bewilders me how an intelligent person such as my friend could actually miss the Robredo supporters’ knack for groupthink and mere engagement in intellectual laziness by shunning other facts and arguments that don’t conform to the yellow narrative of “Marcos bad, yellow good”.
Only yellow lives matter? Perhaps this sums up their entire narrative.
(Photo taken from Borneo Bulletin)
Calling a spade, a spade…