Once again, the issue of burying former President Ferdinand E. Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani has divided the nation. People on both sides of the issue have thrown tirades against each other. The anti-Marcos camp has been more aggressive, citing the so-called Marcos loot and human rights violations under the martial law era.I for one belong to the side favoring a Marcos burial at the Heroes’ Cemetery. So, it follows that I have been attacked in person or in social media over my views. Attacks have ranged from cliché political tags “Loyalista!” and “Apologist!” to more personal ones like “Bobo!” or “Putang ina mo!” However, I am not writing to highlight the attacks on me. I was pushed to write this after several netizens overreacted to the Official Gazette’s post honoring former President Marcos on what would have been his 99th birthday. Personally, I saw nothing wrong with the original post. It offered no praise or criticism, did not show the President’s achievements or shortcomings, and instead tried to be as objective as it could be. Whoever is the new person running the Gazette did a good job before caving in to the hateful comments. Here, I will show why the #NeverAgain crowd has failed to make its case to the Filipino people.
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1. Argumentum ad populum
This brings me to the way that they argue that the Filipino people in 1986 ousted President Marcos, thus disqualifying him from a burial in the Heroes’ Cemetery. That is argumentum ad populum. The popularity of an idea does not guarantee its morality and legality. Besides, the 1986 EDSA uprising did not represent the Filipino people, as President Marcos still had significant following in the country and in the Armed Forces, coming off a close election with Corazon Aquino weeks before. In fact, EDSA 1986 did not even represent the will of the entire nation.
But, suppose we choose to stoop down to the low level of this argument. And suppose EDSA 1986 did represent more than half of the Filipino. It is interesting what happened in the last election. During one of the presidential debates, the candidates were asked in the portion where they have to raise their hands, “Will you allow the burial of Ferdinand E. Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani?”
Only Jejomar Binay and Rodrigo Duterte raised their hands after being asked the question. Interestingly, during the election, between Rodrigo Duterte and Jejomar Binay, 54% of the electorate to allow a Marcos burial in the Heroes’ Cemetery.
2. They have monopolized the interpretation of morality and of history
“I will change my view on the Marcos issue because the other side insulted me and called me an apologist, loyalist, and revisionist” said no one ever.
Another thing that bothers me is the hatred and bigotry espoused by the anti-Marcos crowd. In a way, it has gotten way out of control. They have tried to impose their beliefs upon other so hard that at this point, only jihadist terrorists have done worse than them. They come from all sides of the political spectrum.
Whether we’re talking about the radical left, the liberal intelligentsia, the Yellow army which is beholden to the Aquinos, or the religious right (the same group that attacks President Duterte all the time), there is so much hatred and negative energy in the anti-Marcos side.
This, even though the interpretation of history and morality are subjective. What they fail to realize is that not every Filipino was a victim of what happened during martial law. In fact, some lived better lives during that era because of how order was restored during those years. Of course, some were unfortunately, victims.
If you are a Filipino who had more food to put on the table back then, were able to send your five kids through college (like how my grandparents did), if you felt safer walking in the streets of Manila, if you appreciate the infrastructure development, then you naturally would have more positive memories of martial law. At the same time, if you or a family member, or a friend were a victim of human rights abuses, it’s only natural for you to have dark memories.
For readers of history, it’s up to them to weigh the light and dark of the martial law era in the Philippines. It is their right to have their own views on the issue. However, the anti-Marcos has espoused rhetoric that attacks those who disagree with them. Anyone who thinks Marcos was a good president is a revisionist. Anyone who believes Marcos should be buried in the Heroes’ Cemetery is a loyalist. All Marcos loyalists and voters are idiots or lack a sense of history and morality. They’re also ridiculed on social media with hashtags like #MarcosPaRinMgaUlol and others. When you attack people that have opinions that differ from yours, is that not bigotry?
Such rhetoric from the anti-Marcos camp has far from helped them in their cause. For how can you expect the other side to believe what you say when you insult them in the very same breath? The intolerance of the anti-Marcos has not and will never be able to help them in their movement. Furthermore, their rhetoric has only made the other side dismiss them as mere arrogant propagandists.
I, for one, will not waste my time trying to have a civilized and professional discussion with a group that always espouses bigotry and hatred. Why else would anyone waste their time discussing with people that will only insult them? I am hoping that one of these days, one of them would approach me candidly, and engage in a respectful conversation. Here is a question: what does it say about a group when dissenters and those with differing opinions are shouted down, ridiculed, humiliated, and verbally assaulted?
3. They have ignored the political realities of the Philippines and the entire world in the age of Marcos
The anti-Marcos camp has continued to judge martial law as if it were an entirely bad concept, and at the same time, lashed out against President Marcos as if he were Satan incarnate. However, there are some factors that have to be considered before judging the declaration of martial law.
National Security. There were two existential threats to Philippine national security at the time of Marcos. These were the Moro National Liberation Front in Mindanao, which tried to secede from the country. Another was the Maoist New People’s Army (NPA), which the radical left faction of the anti-Marcos camp sympathizes with to this current day. The left-wing activists grew in strength, with their support coming mostly from universities in Metro Manila, a similar refuge for anti-Marcos activists of today (we will get to that in a second).
The situation became so bad, and a series of daily demonstrations from January to March 1970 became known as the First Quarter Storm. There was also the MV Karagatan arms landing in Isabela, in which the military intercepted a ship carrying ammunition, bombs, and rifles being supplied by Communist China for the NPA. By the way, don’t you find it ironic that these groups criticize Marcos for being a brutal fascist dictator while at the same time, they adhere to the teachings of Chairman Mao of China, whose policies led to the death of 35 million to 70 million Chinese people? I do not know if the radical left is aware of its hypocrisy. They criticize their own president, call him a brutal dictator, yet they praise a man who was behind the largest genocide in human history. Thanks to Jose Maria Sison and Nur Misuari, the Maoist and Moro rebellions have bedeviled us up to this day.
The international political arena. It is also worthwhile to look at the international political arena in which Marcos lived under. When he was elected President in 1965, the United States had just launched a war in Indochina. It was part of a foreign policy by the United States and its allies to stop the growth of the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence.
The anti-martial law people also probably never considered the Domino Theory. This theory holds that what happens in one nation would affect and repeat in neighboring nations. China succumbed to communist rule in 1949, North Korea was founded just a year earlier, and it was inevitable that their Asian neighbors would be next.
The communist rebellion reached Indochina, eventually. That is why the United States applied the Truman Doctrine of 1947, supporting nations under threat from communism. That is why the Americans launched the war in Indochina, and supported the regimes of Park in South Korea, Suharto in Indonesia, and Marcos in the Philippines. The seeds of the communist rebellion were already sown and have even begun to bud in the early 1970s in the Philippines. That is why it was necessary for Marcos to declare martial law in the Philippines. Our neighbors Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia all fell to communist rule while strong leaderships in the Philippines, Indonesia, and South Korea remained standing firm. Accordingly, I am aware of these facts and I am thankful that Ferdinand Marcos was the man in Malacanang on September 1972 making that crucial decision to declare martial law. Had he not declared martial law, or had it been somebody else calling the shots, the Philippines might have capitulated to communist rebellion.
These are facts, and several people from the anti-Marcos camp have refused to acknowledge these. Naturally, if they did, it would eventually annihilate their arguments against martial law and Marcos.
4. They have refused to go down their ivory tower
This part refers more to what I would like to label the liberal intelligentsia. They’re different from the radical left, although their support base is also in universities. This can also apply to the religious right and the Yellow army, however. They have argued from their high horse that Marcos was a terrible dictator who could do no right. Anyone else who has a different view is an ignorant, gullible, Marcos apologist and historical revisionist. Many Filipinos are idiots, that is why Bongbong Marcos almost won (I think he won) the last election, according to them.
It’s very easy to say that from your ivory tower. It appalls me how these people standing on their ivory tower hold in contempt Filipino masses, the voters, and those living in poverty. A reason why Bongbong Marcos performed well in the polls was because he was talking about his ideas for job creation, for wage increases, for affordable electricity, and other issue that would address the problems of these people. The intelligentsia, specifically, claims to have a monopoly of knowledge and solutions to the nation’s problems. Yet, at the same time, they insult the so-called masses, the Filipinos who cannot get jobs, the Filipinos who cannot get out of poverty, the Filipinos who cannot send their children to schools because they were led by false promises from leaders that replaced the dictator. I have never seen a group of people more out of touch with the everyday Filipino.
To conclude, these are the reasons why they have failed to make their case to the Filipino people. The anti-Marcos camp has espoused hatred and bigotry, claimed a monopoly on the interpretation of history and morality, and a huge portion of their following has remained out of touch with the everyday Filipino. Until they adjust their rhetoric accordingly, they will never be able to convince anyone from the other side.