Inquirer columnist Richard Heydarian gets it wrong again in his piece “Why the Marcos brand remains popular”. True to his drumroll style of writing where he first goes at length into some historical context for the point he would later make way way towards the end of his blurb, Heydarian starts by showing off his “knowledge” of German history writing about how “the well-meaning yet feeble Weimar Republic collapsed under the pressure of polarized and increasingly authoritarian politics, leading to the rise of Nazism.” Well, not really. The Weimar Republic collapsed because of weak leadership under the onerous terms of the Treaty of Versailles. The Allies wanted to bleed Germany dry for war reparations so they could repay their debt to the United States. Hitler’s rise began shortly after and the rest, as they say, is history.
Then Heydarian goes into template mode drawing a parallel from that to apply to his take on what is happening to the Philippines today claiming that “the gathering storm of authoritarian nostalgia, and the growing appeal of the heirs of our former dictator, can be explained along a similar axis.” Thus; “[our] political leaders as well as our educators also fell far short in accomplishing their basic duties following the collapse of Ferdinand Marcos’ regime more than three decades earlier.” What followed the so-called EDSA “revolution” that supposedly toppled the Marcos regime “was the swift restoration of the old liberal elite, many of whom ended up reasserting their grip not only on the pillars of the economy but also on the vital organs of the state,” writes Heydarian.
The fact is, history was written by the victors. There was really no “revolution” at EDSA and no victory by the opposition against Marcos. It was then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile who tried to grab power plain and simple but failed. Marcos was consumed by his own hubris that he didn’t appoint a successor nor laid out a succession plan after he became seriously ill. His camp was already divided into three factions then; his wife Imelda and General Fabian Ver, Fidel Ramos and Enrile and Danding Cojuangco. Ramos and Enrile also parted ways before 1986. Danding thought that neither had it in them to mount a coup despite the rise of the Reform the Armed Forces Movement (RAM). Cojuangco relied on the loyalty of the officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to Marcos. Little did he know that he would need to go into exile ignominiously when the time came.
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The matter could’ve been settled as early as 1992 but the Yellows wouldn’t give up power easily. Danding lost because the Marcos vote was split by Imelda. Joseph “Erap” Estrada was ousted after three years and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (GMA) completed her term but only because she gave the police and military what they wanted. She suffered the same fate as Erap. By the end of the Noynoy Aquino administration, Ramos had seen enough and activated his old network to get Rodrigo Duterte to run. Ramos thought he could control Duterte but the promdi had other plans. And so here we are again today in an election cycle where the Marcos scion is now the principal player in what is to be the final battle between the Yellows and the Marcoses. Is it a battle or is it just a validation of the people’s choice in 2016?
Duterte’s audacity in spending political capital is unprecedented. Going into his final eight months in office, he remains highly-popular. Few realize the situation he is in now where he has been abandoned by the power blocs supporting him because they don’t want him to build up a power bloc independent from them. Not a word has been heard from Manny Villar and GMA. The PDP-Laban is splintered and the father is caught in a feud with his daughter, who was supposed to succeed him. The loyal aide looks to be a party to the isolation of his principal as he himself has learned how to play the game. They would like to control the anointed successor who isn’t keen on being a sock puppet which is why she took herself out of the game. But she is playing her cards well by engaging in a dialogue with the Marcos’ who’s also in the same boat as her father.
The power blocs are afraid that what they stole from the Marcoses in their time of weakness will be taken back and they will be left at the mercies of what will be the Marcos-Duterte combine. Ironic since the president’s late father and former Davao Governor Vicente Duterte was a victim of a power play in the first Marcos Cabinet. Now the two sons of the patriarchs are in a position to vindicate their respective fathers. Duterte is keeping his cards close to his chest. He knows his work isn’t done yet but he understands that if the country is to have a future, it falls upon him to finish what he started, one way or the other. The Filipino is waiting for November 15 anxiously. The 2022 election could be a protracted battle or it could end before May 2022.
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