Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Marcos comeback---what are we afraid of?

Thirty years had passed, and the members of the Marcos Family are back in power. Former first lady Imelda Marcos is now a Congresswoman while her kids, Imee and Ferdinand "Bongbong" Junior occupy local and national posts. The fact is--Bongbong is now running for the vice presidency, a step away from the presidency.

Contrast that 30 years ago, when we saw them arriving at the Hawaii airport, most of them in tears, with their assistants, carrying bags and bags full of clothes, monies, and pieces of jewelry. Those were the only things they were able to carry with them when they left the palace the place they stayed in power for more than 14 years. The Marcos family left in a jiffy, afraid of the hundreds if not thousands of Filipinos who managed to enter Malacanan palace the night before. Images caught on television showed Filipinos stomping on paintings showing the faces of Imelda and Ferdie and their kids, various documents scattered around, even images of hospital equipment were shown, which validated rumors that the strongman was sick with Lupus, a debilitating disease.

It was not just the Marcos family who hurriedly left the country--the strongman's cronies also left in a hurry, some of them Danding Cojuangco and the rest of Imelda's Blue Ladies. General Ver who recommended that tanks be sent to blow up the soldiers and people massing at EDSA also escaped.

Those images still stuck in my mind.  While pro-Marcos forces retreated into the darkness of the night, the victors, allies of Cory Aquino and the opposition began occupying Malacanan and discussing what to do.

Most of the idealistic elements of the first EDSA had already left us---Jose Diokno, the elder Tanada, Joker Arroyo, and only Salonga, Saguisag, Enrile, and members of the RAM are still here. For 30 years, the scourge that Marcos tried to erase from the face of Philippine politics: the politico-economic oligarchs are on the comeback. When the EDSA pioneers chose democracy and installed a Republican democratic state which espouses neo-liberalist economy, the choice was never made as a consideration towards the improvement of the lives of the people. That choice was decided as a compromise among "the rebellious elite" and the "losing elite".

Like what Marcos did when he abandoned his initial dream of constructing a better Philippines and instead chose to just institute what he called a "benevolent dictatorship", the pioneers of EDSA did exactly the same to bring back what they thought is the socio-political balance.

Meaning--it brought back peace among contending elite groups but that incident was never used as an institutional policy for the building of a truly just and humane society. EDSA Uno became a lip-service, even now, a necrological reminder of the true state of democracy which if you look at the theme of the EDSA commission says much as what I meant here.

The spontaneous action and bravery shown by thousands of patriotic fathers and mothers were hijacked and turned into a political brand of another family and their political allies and economic benefactors.  The Marcoses have their martial law, the Aquinos their EDSA. For 30 years, the politics of this country became a tug-of-war between two contending elites with contrasting views about what to do with this disaster-wracked country of 101 million souls. There is but one that always made them unite--profits.  When government projects are concerned, the slight difference in political philosophy disappears and slowly melts with the sight of potential profits from the public coffers.

Some of these EDSA pioneers eventually showed their true colors and one by one, transformed into hideous monsters worse than Marcos because of their ambitions of becoming gods themselves.
And while these former counter-elites slowly re-enters the scene and fight among themselves the spoils which the Marcoses left, these selfish elites left the people fending for themselves. Critical infrastructures were left rotting, social services sold to the highest bidder and every single thing sold all in the name of globalization and privatization.

That initial euphoria slowly turned into a disappointing sigh until it now became a feeling of apathy, of disenchantment and of disfranchisement. Those in the know tries almost every day to at least take care of the light initially lit at EDSA. Some of them went into government service only to find it a humongous hydra controlled by greedy men already syndicated and are in control.

The people rage into the night. The conditions that led them to EDSA became institutions and in spite of democracy, the struggle now became harder. Yes, everyone enjoys the right to express oneself. However,  words mean nothing to a people oppressed.

Why are we so afraid of a Marcos comeback? Are we afraid to see our own images whenever we see theirs?

We are afraid because the Marcoses symbolize the worst in us. We must actually be so afraid because that would justify what foreigners think of us---a freckled minded, confused people who have a warped view of "forgiveness" and "of being accommodating."

Imagine--we say alright to those who robbed us blind, who stole billions from us, and even publicly praise these people and we even give them leis as our form of praise.

We say we are religious and we follow Jesus and Gandhi. Yet, we don't really follow them--it's just lip-service to us. Because if we truly follow Jesus, we would militate against the corrupt among us and punish them before forgiving them.

Imagine this---those who benefitted from the excesses of the past left this land without harm and came back strong using the very same monies by which they bought our freedom and paid their way towards infamy. They never tasted jail. They never even experienced how it is to suffer from the very sins they committed to us or what their forebears did to us.

Reconciliation without justice is nothing. For only justice can bring peace to this land.
I say--let those who benefitted from the past, be held accountable now. Give us back our monies. Give us our dignity as a people.