Us martial law babies remember past Independence Day celebrations before. Flag-raising at the Rizal monument followed by a military parade at the Quirino Grandstand. What most Opposition “thought leaders” seem to conveniently leave out of their version of recent history is that, post-Marcos, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) was largely-divided into Marcos loyalists and the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM) camp. The self-reliance program went kaput. The strong anti-military stance of former President Cory Aquino’s officials left the AFP in tatters. No force in the air, no vessels for the navy, and no equipment for the army.
It was former President Fidel Ramos who made AFP modernization his priority. The bright idea was to sell AFP base lands in the National Capital Region (NCR). It is now 2021 and the proceeds from the sale of base lands are still nowhere to be found. Giving credit where it is due, former President Noynoy Aquino restarted the modernization program. It was kept on by President Rodrigo Duterte. Look at what the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have now in terms of equipment and the pay increase. The Saab-Gripen is going to be the multi-role fighter of the Philippine Air Force (PAF). The ageing Huey choppers have been replaced by Polish-made non-combat Blackhawks. Embraer Super Tucanos are going to be the mainstay of air support for anti-insurgency operations. The AFP did an excellent job in the Marawi City siege matched-up against foreign-trained Islamic militants.
In his latest PhilSTAR piece “Independence Day”, Boo Chanco asks, “Why did Independence Day become a ‘wala lang’ holiday?”. He then proceeds to write how “[the] Marcos dictatorship only made the country poorer, and at one point in 1983, bankrupt” and how “[even] Duterte had better things to do than lead Independence Day rites”. Chanco then laments, “Our general lack of interest in celebrating Independence Day shows a waning pride in our country and in being Filipino. That’s unfortunate.”
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What Chanco says about the lack of national pride is true. But who is really responsible for this? “Ako Ay Pilipino” is an excellent patriotic song but it has been consigned to the trash can because it was composed by George Canseco for former President Ferdinand “Apo Lakay” Marcos. Anything with Maharlika has been stricken off any media. Revenge politics has been the policy of the Yellowidiots since 1986. There can be no reconciliation without justice, Cory said. Unfortunately, this was not applied equally. So we are still stuck in the Marcos narrative up to now. Duterte is the reincarnation of Marcos as far as the Opposition is concerned. But if you look at history, our independence had largely been a farce. Up to the Diosdado Macapagal administration, it was celebrated on July 4, which is also the US independence day. The Americans enjoyed parity rights in the Philippine economy up to 1974 when the Bell Trade Act wasn’t extended by Marcos. It was only during the Marcos administration that the Philippine flag flew over US military installations in the country.
We do not have unity because divide and conquer is what the oligarchs have employed to keep Filipinos as slaves in their own country. Manuel L. Quezon, first President of the Philippine Commonwealth said he preferred a country “run like hell by Filipinos over” a country “run like heaven by the Americans”. What he didn’t say was independence was a tool for the oligarchs to become the new colonial power. We have not progressed to the maximum of our potential because oligarchs only put up rent-seeking businesses. There is no industrial development. Marcos had that vision but he was overtaken by events and a reliance on the then International Monetary Fund – World Bank (IMF-WB) being the only source of financing for development projects. Much of the infrastructure built by the Spaniards and the Americans were destroyed during World War II. The long overdue rehabilitation of railway lines is only taking place now after Duterte made it a vow to make life comfortable for Filipinos.
It is unfortunate that Yellowidiots don’t give credit where it is due. Duterte will achieve more in terms of infrastructure development than any other post-Marcos President. This has led the national artist for literature F. Sionil Jose to remark that he MAY YET BE THE BEST PRESIDENT TO COME AFTER MAGSAYSAY. The truth is we should take back what was lost in the last thirty years of Yellowidiot rule if we want our pride back. But this can only happen if we are united. The divisiveness should end with the emergence of an opposition which will look to the future and not the past. We have been living in the past for far too long all because the present opposition finds it more convenient to keep Marcos alive in the Filipino psyche. The truth is the blame for the mess our country is in all falls on them.
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