Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 22 September 2018


Dumbfounded. That was what I was as I watched Part 1 of the interview by Bongbong Marcos (BBM) with former senator Juan Ponce Enrile (JPE). My friend Ito Velhagen told me about it, and she was, to say the least, extremely upset at the untruths. I am phrasing this very delicately. Ito was much less delicate. So I asked my husband Christian to go on Facebook so I could watch the interview. There is a Part II tonight, with a “teaser” for it that has JPE saying that in his first Cabinet meeting with President Cory Aquino, he realized she knew nothing about governance.

Let me immediately answer that: Cory never claimed she was an expert at anything. What she was was a symbol to the people of sacrifice, and the willingness to take up her husband’s cross, so to speak. And she represented the complete opposite of what Ferdinand Marcos was: She was not a cheat, she was not a goon, she was not corrupt, she did not steal the people’s money—and as far as I can remember, she never put any of her family or in-laws in any position of power while she was president. And she refused to extend her term.

But perforce, I must deal with one man’s first-person experience with martial law and Marcos. JPE, in the interview and also in his autobiography, had been asked to study martial law as early as 1969. But he and BBM forgot to mention in the interview that it was also JPE who plotted against BBM’s father in 1986, and whose imminent arrest (by Marcos), as well as his cry for the help of the Filipino people, was one of the tipping points that started the Edsa Revolution. I guess that was an inconvenient truth best unmentioned, amid the extolling of martial law.

“Name me one person who was arrested for his political or religious beliefs,” said JPE, my neighbor. Good grief! This column would not be long enough to accommodate the list. Let me give the millennials (who BBM  is courting assiduously) some names: Ninoy Aquino (who was subsequently killed, by Marcos’ people), Pepe Diokno (JPE mentions that former senator Diokno didn’t want to be released; I leave that to his daughters and son to answer), Max Soliven, Louie Beltran, Geny Lopez, Maita Gomez, Etta Rosales, Jake Lopez. In fact, the gym of Camp Crame was full of them in the first weeks of martial law.

Another segment deals with the oligarchy that controlled the Philippine economy. What the discussants conveniently forgot is that Marcos simply replaced (by taking over their businesses) the original set of oligarchs with another set composed of himself, his in-laws, and his cronies: the likes of Lucio Tan, Bobby Benedicto, Danding Cojuangco, and Kokoy Romualdez, whose families’ powers are still evident today.

This is not a complete list. How do you think Marcos ended up being considered one of the 10 most corrupt political leaders in the world, with something like $10 billion in assets on the salary of a congressman, a senator and then a president? The affidavit of Rolando Gapud, printed in the book “Never Again” by Raissa Robles, is very informative in this regard.

The interview claims that the people were free, and could leave their houses unlocked, said JPE. Of course, there was a curfew. With a curfew, how could people have left their houses at night, locked or unlocked? And as I recall, the “free” people of the Philippines were not allowed to travel. The Philippines was one huge jail.

There was also a part about the national development plans of the then President—infrastructure, land reform, etc. My golly, it really was heaven, then, to hear them tell it. A few facts dash that. During Marcos’ tenure, the average economic growth rate of the Philippines in real terms (2000 prices) was all of 3.8 percent a year, compared to his predecessors’ 4 percent (Macapagal), 4.5 percent (Garcia), 7 percent (Magsaysay) and 9 percent (Quirino).  What about his successors? Arroyo had 4.8 percent, P-Noy had 5.9 percent, and Duterte over 6.4 percent.

Hear this: Marcos was the only president who presided over an economic collapse of the country. There were warlords then? Marcos didn’t take care of that matter, because there are even more warlords now. BBM and JPE talked about the massacre in Mendiola under Cory. Why didn’t they talk about the razing of Jolo, the obliteration of a city, under Marcos?

Selective memory at best.  Historical revisionism at worst