MARCOS 2016: Return of the Tyrants

“Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” ― Edmund Burke

In 1986, the world noticed the archipelago from the Far East from standing up against a tyrant. A quarter of a century later, the descendants of the dictator are back in power. Worse, Bongbong Marcos seems to be an imminent contender for the 2016 elections. So what happened?

A debate regarding the leadership of Marcos is pitched in the social media’s weighing scale. In this day and age where almost all information is just a click away, people seem to disregard the entirety of Martial Law. It’s disappointing. For sure, if Marcos was not dethroned before the freedom that we enjoy today will only remain a dream.

PRO MARCOS

People who believe that Ferdinand Marcos was a great leader always argue the following things: 1. that the Philippine economy was strong, 2. that new infrastructures were edified, 3. Life was way better for Filipinos.

DEBUNKING THE MYTH

Let’s start with economy. Is it possible that Marcos accumulated money and strengthened the economy at the same time? I don’t think so.

Different websites and sources consider Ferdinand Marcos as one of the most corrupt leaders of all time. According to Transparency International, Marcos had gained a total of five to ten billion dollars of embezzled funds.[1] This fact is often disregarded by the people who glorify Marcos. That amount of money, I think, is sufficient to abhor him.

A study conducted by Kenji Kushida in Stanford University proves that the strong economy in the Philippines during the Marcos era is a myth. According to Kushida, “Marcos was much less dependent on domestic economic growth to provide him with rent to redistribute, and could selectively violate domestic property rights by forming monopolies and nationalizing industries.” [2] I am not an Economist to expound the idea but the analysis suggests that the Philippine Economy was dependent to other markets. Hence, it was not really strong. The same study also points that during the Marcos era, his cronies and the elite were the ones who benefited from his regime.

How about the strong Peso – Dollar exchange rate? The deterioration of our currency’s value actually began when Marcos was in power. [3] In addition, he also loaned to international banks (World Bank, IMF) which worsened the problem. Big debts are one of the biggest burdens that he bequeathed to us. It’s so big that even our grandchildren will pay for it through taxes. That’s why it’s reasonable to say that the economy then wasn’t really strong. The big interest rate in our debts is one of the reasons why we are still a poor country today.

BUILDINGS

Now, let’s see the buildings that he constructed. To a certain extent, some were beautiful and useful. It’s not surprising that he was able to construct a lot of buildings compared to other Presidents because he stayed in power way longer than the others. The truth behind some of these infrastructures is not really impressive. A good example is the Light Rail Train Authority otherwise known as LRT A. According to LRT’s own website the government losses were likely to reach P216 Million at that time.[4] Marcos also constructed different rest houses all over the Philippines.[5] He was pretty much spending like a king when he constructed those self-serving buildings. And who would forget the tragedy in Manila Film Center? Around 169 people died but no one was held accountable. These are just some of the controversies that are being neglected by some. If the late President was so great in building infrastructures, why are these things left unanswered?

CIVIL LIBERTIES

During the Marcos era, press freedom and human rights were violated.[6] People died due to their strong opposition against the dictator’s oppression. The jabidah massacre, missing activists and other unexplained deaths occurred while he was in power. How can you feel safe if his minions can kill you if they suspected that you are a leftist? How can life be good if your fundamental rights are violated? Ergo, Martial Law is not an ideal time in Philippine history.

Even the Supreme Court was overpowered by Marcos. He was able to manipulate the legislative, executive and judiciary. In short, he was the government. A dictator should I say. He deprived us of our rights and we were never really safe in our own country.

BIZAARE MENTALITY

Despite all of these, I’m really shocked that some people would want the Marcoses go back to power. Do we really have a short-term memory as a nation? Or some of us are just masochists that they want tyranny, anarchy and disenfranchisement to prevail in our country?

Giving back the power to the heirs of a dictator is one of the most bizarre things that we have done. It is contrary to the celebration of EDSA Revolution which made us a precedent to all countries who are suffering from dictatorship. It is a blatant insult to the democracy that we have today. It’s as if we are a vulnerable prey willing to be devoured by a lurking beast.

We forgot how many tears were shed by the families of who were killed relentlessly. The efforts of the people who fought for freedom and injustice that the dictator brought were set aside.

CONCESSION

Marcos may have brought us some good things but it will never outweigh the misery that he brought. I admit that he was a brilliant man but he was not a great president. He was so brilliant that he made some people believe that his dictatorship was tantamount to discipline. I beg to defer. For a great President will never violate the rights of his people.

LESSONS

I hope that Martial Law will be a reminder that our mother land lived in a nightmare in the hands of its own son. It is our responsibility to pass it to the next generation so that it will not happen again because it’s not an excuse that we were not born in that era.

There is a substantial distinction between a good president and a dictator. The former seeks to achieve the goals of a nation through policies, reform and good governance. The latter uses deception and oppression to blind the people.

As a Filipino who believes in democracy, I say no to another Marcos.

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