Imelda Marcos was in the news a while back for getting another conviction (she had been convicted years ago, though there seems to be a roadblock to carrying it out). Some people are celebrated this (even pro-Marcoses who believe Imelda was the reason behind all the corruption, not Ferdinand). Some though are angered that she was allowed to post bail, and that the police are slow to arrest her and are even making comparisons to poorer older people who have murdered or such. Really, don’t get ahead of yourselves.
This also raises one interesting observation about the “opposition” (the Yellowtards): they want us to believe that everything that’s wrong with the Philippines started with him – and only with him. So corruption started only in his time, they claim, and so all bad Filipinos learned from him. Every February 25, this is the narrative that they continue to push on us.
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So we ignore that back during the Revolution against the Spanish, there was lots of backbiting that led to Antonio Luna and Andres Bonifacio being killed (it doesn’t matter whether Emilio Aguinaldo was responsible; Filipinos were still the ones who pulled the triggers). So we ignore that during World War 2, guerilla fighters were also squabbling against each other and claiming turfs that even fellow Filipino guerillas should not enter. Never mind that Filipinos have been warring against, using, enslaving and defrauding each other, even before the Spanish came. I call bunk the idea that corruption started in Marcos’ time. Whatever has been ailing our country has been around ever since people have been on these islands, as what Ambeth Ocampo highlighted from the memoir of Spanish explorer Miguel Lopez de Legazpi.
Let me digress a bit to make another point related to this. If people say the first massacres after World War 2 started in Marcos’ time, that’s false. The first one was the Maliwalu massacre in 1951 (at around the same time was the political killing of Moises Padilla). It was not ordered by government officials. The soldiers themselves decided to kill some farmers for revenge, suspecting they were Hukbalahap members, as one of the soldiers’ comrades was killed by the Huks. They were loose cannons who just wanted blood. This is likely what happened during martial law as well, and is happening in society today. Lots of military personnel (even ordinary citizens) likely had beefs with some people, or even just wanted to power-trip over others, whether offended by them or not, and so they kidnapped, tortured and killed them. Don’t forget that even communist and Islamic insurgents are also guilty of murdering and abusing lots of innocents. Marcos’ time was never the origin of our ills.
Dictators have usually been described with “power vested in one man.” I now realize how ridiculous it is. This description of dictatorships implies that the single man, let’s say Marcos, himself committed the atrocities. As if he stepped out of Malacanang and went on to kill people himself. The truth is, there were other people, that we can call goons, who made their own plans and carried out the killings themselves, since dictatorships are a group effort. That’s why Ilda pointed to Enrile and Ramos. They were in charge of the military and police that time. Same goes for the lower-ranked people who actually carried out the killings. But just because they went balimbing, people were willing to give them a free pass and wanted to just dump it all on Marcos. That’s where the dumbness started.
Many people who are in corruption controversies today were not oligarchs or people related to famous names. If you give guns and gold to ordinary people, they can turn into goons or get some of their own. They can have businesses that they run unethically and some become the politicians or politicians’ staff members we’ve never heard about, but are reportedly pocketing public money. Even showbiz personalities have learned to squeeze into lucrative positions and commit abuses. Some even pretend to be anti-corruption or ride on the Anti-Marcos bandwagon, when all the time they’re part of what they profess to be against. Evil thrives not because good men do nothing; it thrives because it pretends to be good, and there are suckers for that pretension.
The clamor and noise barrages against the “shadow of Marcos” can be distractions from these true powers-that-be. They are trying to take people’s attention off those with greater signs of being in corruption and are still pretending to be the goody-two-shoes types. Among them, Andy Bautista and Antonio Trillanes.
Speaking of loose cannons: that’s one of the reasons why many people these days are favoring the Marcos name again. It is not “historical revisionism” or propaganda. In Floyd Whaley’s article about the “Marcos golden era,” an interviewee talks about how people were seen as disciplined in those days, while today, there is so much lack of discipline. These is the legitimate experience of older people; even Fr. Ranhilio Aquino says the general feeling at the time was that there was order. It seems to me that of all the administrations that the Philippines had between Marcos and Duterte never really focused on discipline. People want someone who will impose discipline on the loose cannons in Philippine society, and Duterte was seen as the logical choice.
Unless we accept that the loose cannons of society are prevalent even in the grassroots, we are unlikely to resolve all our crises. All the road rage, scams, kangaroo courts, murderousness and more are from our ordinary culture as Filipinos. We need to make our grassroots culture shape up, develop more discipline, take care of the loose cannons and perhaps kill all the parts of this culture that we love but are pulling us down. Because if we don’t, we remain a dysfunctional sick man of Asia.
I believe, as my cohorts here do, that what Filipinos embrace as their culture is what actually pulls the country down. And those who seem to be anti-dictators, who may also believe themselves to be “heroes,” are the real dictators.