Marcos Revisionism

This is a repost of a two-part article (Marcos Revisionism Part I: Time to Sound the Alarm and Part II: Half Truths and Fallacies of Marcos) written by Chempo that can be found at the Society of Honor website. According to a note by JoeAm, the article is “rich with historical facts and perspectives on a matter of considerable argument; where deductions are made, they are solely the opinion of the writer. Readers are advised to apply their own judgment or seek further information on contentious issues.”

We hope this would encourage Bantayog website’s readers to read more and learn more about that dark period of our country’s history.

The photos are from various sources: Aquilino Pimentel Jr, and the book Martial Law in the Philippines from Xiao Time’s posts, from the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant archives, from the Bong Bong Marcos Facebook page, from Inquirer (the mural Salvaged Memories of Randalf Dilla / Hiraya Art Gallery) and from Wikipedia.

SEATO

Time to Sound the Alarm

Herminio Disini was a Marcos crony and golfing pal back in the 1970’s. He was the guy Westinghouse used to whisper some magic words into Marcos’ ears to snatch the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant deal out from under the nose of General Electric. From  two GE power plants worth US$650mm, the Philippines ended up with a single Westinghouse plant worth US$2.2 billion. Disini sure was a great negotiator. On top of that, he formed a company that got the deal from Westinghouse to construct the plant. A greenhorn contractor building a nuclear plant – Marcos sure had great faith. From BNPP dirtied money and other largesse from Marcos, Disini fled to Austria where he ended up owning a castle, a title of baron, and citizenship. Envision him sitting on a Queen Antoinette chair, legs raised resting on a Napoleon III table, holding in his hand a crystal glass of Chateau Margaux 2009 as he gazed through the stained glass castle window defined by gold-gilded frames, and dream of his beloved Philippines . . .

In Greek “historia”, it means “knowledge acquired by investigation”. History relates to past events, not necessarily culled solely from facts but from interpretation by historians. It is a profession that makes judgement of evidence before them. Therein is the frailty of history. Firstly, the evidence itself. Over-time, evidence may be re-examined in a new light, new evidence may surface, or new technology may provide new insights. Secondly, human fallibility. Historians write under a prevailing political and social climate, tainted by personal opinions, biases and cultural influences. Objectivity with regards to evidence selection and methodology dictate the historians’ interpretation of events past.

There are those who say history is written by the victors. We are in the age of information, and truth has a way of finding the light eventually, much easier now than hundreds of years ago. The Bush administration’s fabrication that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction is now a known fact. History is fluid and, from time to time, revisions are made. Lest we deride history and cast it down to the level of legends, grand-mothers’ tales, folklore, or mythology, let’s accord it the respectability it deserves because much of written history is based on undeniable facts. The holocaust did take place, Mr Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Comfort women did exist in Japanese camps in WW2, Mr Shinzo Abe. Marcos did loot the Philippines and martial law did do irreparable damage to the country, my dear Filipinos.

Attempts to re-write history have been continual affairs . . . for whatever personal, institutional, governmental, religious, political, benign or evil agendas. An innocuous book here, a seminar there, web-sites, a few YouTube postings, fund some organizations, one or two infomercials, etc. The con is all out there if you pause to read in between the lines and pay a bit more attention.

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The con of men knows no bounds . . .

Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh, and Henry Lincoln wrote the best seller documentary Holy Blood Holly Grail, a book that covered hundreds of years of medieval history and at its core, the theory that Christ had a bloodline which exists to this day. In their investigative writing they pursued many clues to questions they raised. It led them finally to the‘Dossiers Secrets’ at the Bibliotheque Nationale de Francais. What they didn’t realize was that Pierre Plantard, a draughtsman, was deliberately planting fictitious documents. This is the length that people go to re-write history.

Baron Disini commissioned New York-based author Judy Corcoran to pen his autogiography, promising to tell all, meaning his version, meaning there were no crooks in the Philippines at all. Disini passed away in 2014. I don’t know if his book was ever published.

There are many who try to re-paint Hitler in a different light, his evil deeds down-played or defrayed over various fancy un-supported explanations, and his achievements over-hyped and misplaced. Nazi groups are coming into existence in many countries – Germany, USA and some Latin American countries.

911 is touted as a great American conspiracy. If you believe them, it’s the CIA who planned the attack.

The Church is under attack from every conceivable angle.

Marcos’ family, loyalists, and beneficiaries are challenging irrefutable facts and expounding half-truths and outright lies. What’s worse, lots of uninformed Filipinos cut and paste these lies to their Facebook or blog to perpetuate a train of lies.

The (international) Church of Satan, San Francisco, California, estb 1966 . . .

We are astounded, befuddled, yeah angry, at why ordinary Filipinos refuse to look at the piles of evidence against the misdeeds of Marcos. We are rendered impotent when more Filipinos say forget the past, in so suggesting the crimes are condoned – meaning, the misdeeds are accepted. We are driven out of our senses when a preeminent judicial personality sings the same tune as long as it can help her win the 2016 Presidency. We go crazy when we hear many who say of Bongbong that the crimes of the father should not be his burden without addressing the issue of billions of stolen dollars they refuse to return to the people.

When mortal logic provides no solace, sanity can only be retained by consigning the rationale for this strange behavior to the Great Deceiver.

For the believers of the good Book, there is one explanation for all this. The fallen one is here. God has warned that Satan lies concealed, and he deceives easily as he is a master at his craft. He manipulates those who plant the lies, he makes the path easy for those doing his work.

“I am the luckiest person that I know and being a Marcos is part of that and I am very happy that I was born into the Marcos family,” said Bongbong Marcos (Illusory mode).

In God we trust, and in the CBCP we hope they help to open the eyes of the laity to the great deception that has gained more traction in the last few years. The Marcoses may go to church, but for their words and deeds, it is so difficult to see the God in their hearts.

blcoinsmallIs there really anything to apologize for . . .

The Japanese have to this day never formally apologized for their atrocities during WW2. Japanese kids grew up generally unaware of what their previous generation did. In schools they were taught watered-down accounts of Japan’s role in WW2. Many Japanese tourists were shocked by the reality they discovered as they traveled outside their country. There is no closure for Japan and the many countries that suffered under them.

After WW2, the Germans reflected and searched their souls. There was remorse, regrets, apologies and acceptance. There was closure for them and for the world. New generations of Germans grew up well aware of their dreadful past. Almost all Germans today have nothing to do with what happened in WW2, yet they feel apologetic.

Our family have nothing to apologize for . . . ” Bongbong Marcos. (Classic denial mode).

“I don’t think that on a family basis, the Marcoses as a family owe us an apology. In the first place, it was not the case that President Marcos the father pooled all the Marcoses in one table and they all decided jointly to do certain activities,” Miriam Santiago. (Classic insanity mode).

Both Bongbong and Santiago, and all those who share the duo’s sentiments, miss the point. They are absolutely right in a court of law. But where is the moral responsibility to own up and return the loot? If our child steals something from a kid next door, don’t we apologize and get our child to return the stolen goods? The “no apologies necessary” logic shows that critical humanity traits are missing. Where is the sense of shame? Shame is something that separates humans from animals . . . well actually dogs do feel shame too. Notice how dogs lower their heads and droop their tails when chided for doing something bad? An apology signifies acceptance, the real apologists feel shame and remorse, the sincere apologists make restitution. Acceptance, remorse, and restitution are the basis for forgiveness and moving on. We should forgive, but never forget the lessons learned.

Note:

a. The Criminal Code of the Philippines is silent on the culpability of those in possession of stolen goods when they are privy to that knowledge. In most other jurisdictions, this is a criminal act.

b. I learned from Raissa Robles’s blog that there is a Presidential Decree No. 1612 or the “Anti-Fencing Law of 1979” signed by Marcos himself. He shot himself in the foot that time. Santiago conveniently forgot about this decree.

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Does history matter? The past is past, let’s move on . . .

However good, however bad, we must never turn our back on history. It teaches us the wherewither we came from and how and wherewither we want to move to. The lessons of history ground us to what we are.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. . .  George Santayana

WW2 was a continuation of WW1. Basically the same set of players, in different roles – Hitler, de Gaulle, Churchill, Patton and many others. Hitler had a minor role as a corporal in WW1. He experienced the shame of a defeated Germany and yearned for a return of a mighty motherland. Critical lessons of WW1 were not learned and issues were left unsettled. Empires rise and empires fall all over the world in human history. In China, there was one dynasty after another for thousands of years. Each succeeding humanity never learned from their previous fall.

That is why the recent decision by Japan to scrap their pacifist policy and allow overseas military deployment is a dangerous development. Because lessons of WW2 have not been learned in Japan.

To water down the history of the Marcos’ martial law years and whitewash the plunder, human rights abuses and total mismanagement of the country, is not just horrendously distasteful, but utterly dangerous.

Sir Winston Churchill said in the House of Commons :

“When the situation was manageable it was neglected, and now that it is thoroughly out of hand we apply too late the remedies which then might have effected a cure. There is nothing new in the story. It is as old as the sibylline books. It falls into that long, dismal catalogue of the fruitlessness of experience and the confirmed unteachability of mankind. Want of foresight, unwillingness to act when action would be simple and effective, lack of clear thinking, confusion of counsel until the emergency comes, until self-preservation strikes its jarring gong–these are the features which constitute the endless repetition of history.”

Half-Truths and Fallacies of Marcos

Most of those who subscribe to the transgressions of the Marcos family come from personalities or organizations of high esteem, with irrefutable evidence, and have no hidden agendas. Those that refute the evidence fall into one of these categories – connected by relation, die-hard loyalists, fellow cronies, people who had benefited off Marcos, people blinded by their hatred of the Aquino administration, and mindless supporters. A name that comes to mind is Kit Tatad – what manner of man is this who has nothing but praise for Marcos’ misdeeds and scorn for Pnoy’s good deeds?

1. Indigenious spoliation:

The term “plunder” cannot adequately invoke the sense of magnitude of what Marcos stole from the nation. Such a pillage it was that surely shocks and outrages the conscience of not just clear thinking Filipinos, but people everywhere. The decent world has a new term for this — “indigenous spoliation”. It is the organized and systematic plundering of national treasuries by political and military elites of such a magnitude that it ravages the country, exacerbating poverty and undermining economic and social development.

Transparency International 2004 ranking of corrupt leaders:

1 – Mohamed Suharto, President of Indonesia (1967-1998) – looted US$15-35 billion.
2 – Ferdinand Marcos, President of Philippines (1965-1986) – looted US5-10 billion
3 – Mobutu Sese Seko, President of Zaire (1965-1997) – looted US$5 billion
4 – Sani Abacha, President of Nigeria (1993-1998) – looted2-5 billion
5 – Slobodan Milosevic, President of Serbia (1989-2000) – looted US$1 billion
6 – Jean Claude Duvalier, President of Haiti (1971-1986) – looted 300-800 million
7 – Alberto Fujimori, President of Peru (1971-1986) – looted 600 million
8 – Pavlo Lazarenko, President of Ukraine (1996-1997) – looted 114-200 million
9 – Armoldo Aleman, President of Nicaragua (1997-2002) – looted US$100 million
10- President Joseph Estrada (1998-2001) – looted US$78-80 million

Not bad, Philippines, we have 2 in the top 10 world rankings. VPJejomar Binay will most likely be up there soon, probably in 5th or 6th position.

THE TRUTH : Marcos is one of the greatest thieves in the world

2. P500 billion or more blue chip stocks:

“We practically own everything in the Philippines, from electricity, telecommunications, airlines, banking, beer and tobacco, newspaper publishing, television stations, shipping, oil and mining, hotels and beach resorts, down to coconut milling, small farms, real estate and insurance”. Imelda Marcos (admissive or boastful mode)

“They were paid well, supported and allowed to live the lives of the rich and famous and look what we’ve got? A betrayal. They were tapped by Ferdinand, supposedly to guard his interests in those companies. But look what happened, they wanted everything” (Philippine Daily Inquirer, 9/12/98) . . . Imelda Marcos (I’m-a-victim mode)

There you are, right from the horse’s mouth. Eye-popping. The Marcoses practically owned the whole Philippines! Towards the end of 1998, Imelda Marcos gave an exclusive interview to Christine Herrera of the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI). A lurid Imelda personally confirmed the open secret that Marcos arm-twisted many share-holders of blue chip conglomerates to sell out to him cheap. Cronies were used to front the ownership. She denied the arm-twisting part, and insisted the acquisitions were all paid for out of their own family funds. She never explained how a lowly-paid president was able to amass that wealth. The PDI was supposed to run a 9 part series, all front-page explosives. Part 1 was out on 5 Dec 1998 but the series stopped at Part 5 as Imelda claimed she received death threats to her family.

Was she mad? Not at all, on the contrary, it was a wise strategic move. She had just won the racketeering case in New York and the Philippines had a new Marcos-friendly president in Joseph Estrada. It was the perfect time to put things in the open and go after cronies like Danding Cojuanco, Lucio Tan, and Disini, who claimed rightful ownership of those companies. There are some who estimated the values could be in trillions – we’re talking about PLDT, San Miguel and others.

For trillions, it’s worthwhile to tip-toe back to the country.

Too late, Imelda learnt there was no honor among thieves after all. I wonder if Binay has better luck with Gerry Limlingan et al.

THE TRUTH: Marcos stole more than anyone can ever imagine.

MarcosExilefromBongBong

3. Bongbong and the POA:

“I cannot confirm (the Swiss bank accounts) because I haven’t seen or read them. We – I don’t know. I cannot – I cannot say that I know. Definitely the Swiss money were there. Or are there now. It’s for us – again this constant – that people are saying – more and more participating in that — “ Bongbong, speaking to blogger Raissa in 2012 (Squirming mode)

On 21 Mar 1986, Bongbong handed over Marcos’ power of attorney (POA) to Mike de Guzman at a hotel in Honolulu. This POA was to enable US$213 mm to be moved out of a Marcos account with Credit Swisse, Zurich to a Philippine Govt’s designated account in Exportfinanzierungsbank, Vienna. The transfer was eventually frustrated due to Filipino infighting (Mike de Guzman, a Filipino banker free-lancing agent to retrieve stolen money for Cory, and PCGG.)

The intrigue is worthy of a Grisham novel, complete with code name “Operation Big Bird”. (You can read about it at Wikipedia’s  “Operation  Big Bird” , bearing in mind that’s only de Guzman’s version).

Intrigue aside, this clearly demonstrates Bongbong’s active participation and knowledge of stolen wealth.

So as not to leave readers hanging in the air, here’s a bit more follow through. This episode exposed Filipinos’ penchant for palace intrigue and bumbling teamwork. Had it been properly executed, the funds would have been retrieved in 1986 and it could have led on to uncover other Swiss bank accounts of billions of dollars. Legal complexities came into play and it was not until 1998 that the Swiss remitted the funds (US$540mm with interest) to Sandibangan’s account at PNB, but in escrow, meaning it cannot be touched due to some unclear legal issues. There it rested until 2004 (by now it’s US$683mm) when it was finally free and transferred to the Bureau of Treasury’s account to be utilized as dictated under the Agrarian Reform Act – partly for agrarian reform and partly for compensation to human rights victims under martial law. It was from this fund that President Gloria Arroyo diverted money illegally in what became known as the Fertilizer scam. The balance is still there.

THE TRUTH : Bongbong confirmed that the Marcoses have lots of stolen money stashed away.

4. Imee Marcos and a trust fund:

She is tied to Sintra Trust which was set up in 2002 in the Virgin Islands. Legally, there is nothing wrong with trust funds. But such offshore trust funds are almost always the way the crooked stash away their loot. Since its discovery, by now that trust would have been closed and replaced by others. This pinned her down to active participation and knowledge of stolen loot.

Investigative journalists unearthed some documents that link Sintra Trust to some accounts with Overseas Union Bank, Singapore and HSBC. That stands to reason because during those years of exile, Imee apparently spent some years in Singapore. I owned a small company that did some interior work at her condominium apartment. Despite having billions, she tried to dishonor a debt of S$2,500. The Marcoses run roughshod over little people.

When the Marcoses fled Malacanang, they left behind expensive art treasures and banking documents . . . and of course Imelda’s 3,000 pairs of shoes. That was how Cory’s people got hold of the fictitious names of William Saunders and Jane Ryan in the Swiss banks. During Marcos’ time they were probably untidy in the way they concealed their loot. In more recent times, concealing ill-gotten wealth has become very sophisticated, making it much more difficult for aggrieved governments to locate the funds. There are even companies that specialize in this field and the selling tool of their trade is impeccable professionalism and sealed lips. The funds may be illegal, but the work they do, the way the trusts and nominees that are set up, are perfectly legal. The objective is to conceal the actual fund beneficiaries and to minimize taxation. Places where these proliferate are tax heavens like the Virgin Islands, Labuan, Hongkong, Singapore, Luxemburg, Austria, etc. Rings a bell, does it not, the fact that Imee lived in Singapore for a while and Disini chose to stay in Austria?

There is no doubt the Princeton and so-called Oxford-educated children of Marcos have moved with the times. They are more savvy now to the way of hiding stolen wealth.

Interestingly, Estrada and Binay also visited Singapore for unknown purposes in 2011.

THE TRUTH : Imee is the one managing their stolen wealth

Aquilino Pimentel Jr Martial Law in the Philippines My Story (small)

5. Bataan Nuclear Power Plant:

“Will I say sorry for the power generation (that his father built)?” Bongbong

Let’s leave the corruption issue aside. Up till today, there are Marcos’ loyalists who want to put the blame on Cory, and even Pnoy, for refusing to repair and commission the BNPP which, according to them, would have solved the country’s power shortage problems. They simply refuse to believe that it is not feasible financially, and pay no heed to safety concerns.

Filipino experts, Westinghouse, and other involved contractors, down-played defects that were raised. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported thousands of small defects which individually could have led to a snowball effect if things were to go wrong. Most of these had to do with shoddy soldering work, courtesy of Disini’s inexperienced workers. Soldering looks like a simple task, but, if done incorrectly, it is a weakness that collapses whole structures. There is also a big problem with the foundation itself, which was supposedly rectified but not to the satisfaction of IAEA. Above it all, only in Philippines would one chose a site for a nuclear plant that is just five miles from an active volcano and within 25 miles of three geologic fault lines. It begets the question why? One reason, unverified, but has credence, is that the Marcos and Romualdez (Imelda’s) families had built up large land banks in the Bataan region. The BNPP was expected to benefit that region.

THE TRUTH : Marcos milked BNPP dry. Marcos does not value the lives of Filipinos.

6. From “The Pearl of Asia” to “The Sick Man of Asia”:

“But will I say sorry for the thousands and thousands of kilometers that were built (by his father)?”  . . . Bongbong Marcos (classical half-truth mode)

It is very true. Marcos built lots of roads, schools, bridges, etc. But was it for love of the Filipinos, or love of money? It is very difficult to see where the line of national interest begins and where personal interest ends. The operating credo was “more missions, more commissions”. Overpricing, kick-backs, rigged bidding – all these modus-operandi, still in practice today – were institutionalized during Marcos’ time. Bankers during those days were all too familiar with Mrs 10% in Indonesia (Tien Suharto) and Mrs 15% in the Philippines. Same bankers used to skip town whenever they received an invitation from Imelda to a function where, after her crooning routine, it was donation time.

There was a frenzy of projects. Filipinos need to ask where the money came from. Marcos borrowed extensively from the international capital markets. There is nothing wrong with borrowing. We all do that sometimes to buy big ticket items like cars and houses. What is important is responsible borrowing, meaning you spend on worthwhile projects and you can service the repayment. Marcos borrowed like crazy. When Marcos took power in Dec 1965, the national debt was US$500 mm; when he fled the country in 1986, it had ballooned to US$28 billion. Yes, there were roads etc, but just look at the BNPP – a single white elephant project that made up 10% of the entire external debt. How wild can that be?

Let’s take a bit of a worldview of the US$ during Marcos’ time to have a better understanding.

Since the beginning of 20th century up to 1972, the price of crude oil was stable at around US$2 per barrel (prices here all not adjusted for inflation). From 1973, it begun to shoot north wildly, peaking at US$36 in 1982. This was triggered by Saudi Arabia’s oil embargo in retaliation to the Yom Kippur War. That was the time when the oil cartel OPEC was at its most powerful. By controlling the supply side, prices inevitably shot up. The price of oil was never the same again after that. Oil is traded in US$ and with the dramatic price increase, OPEC countries sucked up all the currency. The middle east became the noveau riche and deserts suddenly began to turn into gleaming cities. These countries sucked in more money than can be pumped into their small economies, so the excess had to be deposited with banks. The oil money, loosely termed petrol dollars, were mostly deposited in banks in European cities. As US$ are settled in US, invariably most find its way into banks in the US. All these money had to be invested somewhere. The banks were flushed with petro dollars and not enough first tier borrowers to lend to. European countries were in recessionary state at the time, so most of these petrol dollars were invested in 2nd and 3rd tier developing countries like Turkey, Mexico, Brazil and other Latin American countries, and then there was Philippines. These borrower countries became blue-eyed boys of all these international bankers. They came knocking on Marcos’ and Philippine bankers’ doors everyday. That explains why there was a building frenzy by Marcos – the borrowing part was easy. As operations head of a bank in Singapore, I personally authorized telegraphic transfers of hundreds of millions of dollars for loan draw-downs by Philippine entities. Those were wild wild west days.

The external debt of US28 billion on its own cannot give you a proper perspective of the roof crashing down on Philippines in the early 1980’s. The Debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio is a proper gauge. In 1970 it was 33.2% and in 1986 it was 95.2%. The GDP is basically the sum of all goods and services produced in the year. Comparing this to total debt provides a yardstick as to a country’s capability to service its debt. Creditors monitor this figure all the time. There is no hard and fast rule, but generally when it reaches the 70% it spells trouble for the country. (There are exceptions).  At 70% the country will find it more difficult and expensive to borrow. Statistics did not lie in this case. Reality caught up with Marcos from 1980. The casino had ran out of chips. I saw the Philippines struggle with debt re-structuring, begging for moratoriums and going bowl in hand to the Asian Development Bank, World Bank and the IMF. Once, in order to meet interest payments, Marcos sent Bobby Ongpin to Singapore to ask for a loan of US$300-500 mm which Lee Kuan Yew refused because he could not gamble with taxpayers’ money. Restructuring is a frightening word in financial markets. It usually means insolvency. Marcos had bankrupted the Philippines. It was a most shameful period of Philippine history. Still, it was better for Marcos to have a bankrupted the Philippines than repatriate the stolen money in his Swiss bank accounts to pay off the loans.

A second whammy – high interest rates. Back to the petrol dollars to understand why. As the petrol dollars re-circulated back into the US, the liquidity caused prices to increase. To make it worse, the Vietnam War too added to the inflationary pressure. President Lyndon Johnson did not want to increase Fed interest rates to tackle the inflation for political reasons. When Paul Volcker became chairman of the Fed, he started to raise interest rates. The Fed rate increased from 11.2% in 1979 to 20% in June of 1981, almost reaching its usury limit. With loan spreads of 125 basis points over 3/6 months LIBOR, Marcos’ loans were paying at 21.25% per annum. and with 10-15 years maturity, he could barely service the interest let alone make repayments. New loans were taken just to pay off interest. Capitalizing interest just made the loans grow larger in succeeding administrations.

The third whammy – shrinking value of peso. Because of the high oil prices, all currencies including the peso weakened against the US$. This was accentuated by a weakening Philippine economy. In 1970 it was 6 pesos to a US$, 21 in 1986 and 45 currently. This meant that the US$28 billion of debt that Marcos left behind in 1986 required more and more pesos to repay. In peso terms, it has more than doubled!

The fourth whammy — When the price of oil shot up in the 70’s/80’s, a country’s economy may still be the same, but it requires more dollars for the same level of oil import. With poor fiscal and monetary management under Marcos, the Philippines had zero US$ reserves and almost no US$ revenue. A big chunk of the budget went into purchasing the dollar for oil imports. The economy basically collapsed.

The recycling of the petro dollars brought the Philippines to its knees and left Marcos shell-shocked. If there is any consolation, the same set of uncontrollable external events left Latin American countries with equally huge national debts. That does not exonerate Marcos. Other net-oil importing countries faced similar problems, but they managed. Taiwan, South Korea, Hongkong and Singapore were well on their way to becoming Asian Tigers. No, Filipinos, it was thievery and mis-management of the economy plain and simple. It’s always the economy, stupid. Borrowed till broke, economy down, massive un-employment and poverty up . . .  discontent set in, strong arm tactics were used to combat civil unrest, foreign investors left in a hurry, capital flight followed, more youths turned military and went underground or into the mountains, communists took the opportunity to destabilize the government, and martial law was implemented with its attendant atrocities. That’s how Marcos led the Philippines from “The Pearl of Asia” to “The Sick Man of Asia”.

Are we to forget this painful lesson of Marcos history? Thank God today we have a good man in Governor Tetengco running the Bangko Sentral. Thank God we have an administration that manages the nation’s money purse better. We now have better leaders who understand the need for delayed gratification, that it is not yet time to reduce taxes (while we are still struggling to pay off Marcos’ debts). It is so easy to simply give in to populist demands and score political points. Bongbong would like to reduce taxes . . . as long as we do not use their stolen wealth to replace the loss in revenue from tax reduction.

THE TRUTH : Marcos bankrupted the Philippines

Salvaged Memories Randalf Dilla Courtesy of Hiraya Art and Hiraya Gallery Manila

7. Marcos agrarian land reform

”Will I say sorry for the agricultural policy (of Marcos) that brought us to self-sufficiency in rice?” Bongbong Marcos (Deceptive mode)

Marcos agri policy and rice self-sufficiency were separate issues. The former was a disastrous failure and the latter was a matter of luck that had nothing to do with Marcos.

To be fair, the reform concept was good, but the execution failed miserably due to difficulties of land valuation and a bureacracy that thrived on patronage and corruption. The agri reform called for re-distribution of certain agrarian land to landless farmers. Over 14 years, Marcos distributed only 2.27% of all land titles by 1986. This took care of a miserable 0.17% of the total landless farmers. Bongbong has a lot to apologize for to the tens of millions of landless farmers out there. The Marcoses measure of success sure is damn low. To them, a face-saving “special diploma” is equivalent to an Oxford University degree.

As to the rice, the luck was that the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) was headquartered in the Philippines. In the mid 1960’s, the IRRI came up with the ‘wonder rice’ IR8 that promised better yields. It was so promising that Marcos visited the IRRI to see for himself and quickly declared that the Philippines would be self-sufficient in rice production during his first term in office. The IR8 strain and further enhancements enabled 2 crops per year and by 1972, the Philippines became a net-exporter of rice. We should be thankful to the IRRI and the good folks that supported the institute – the Rockefeller Foundation and Ford Foundation. The Marcoses take credit for the hard work done by others.

THE TRUTH : Marcos did nothing for land reform and rice self-sufficiency.

8. Education:

“Will I say sorry for the highest literacy rate in Asia (during his father’s time)?” Bong Marcos (Half-truth mode)

In his first term, this was true. DepEd got a 28% highest share of budget. In his second term, DepEd got only 11.6% and school enrollment was up only 2.4% yearly. Why the difference? Because under the martial law years, an educated population is not a good thing. Dictators are not great fans of educated people who are viewed as a threat to them. Do we forget the history of UP campus residents being hauled up by the military?

The truth is the amount of classrooms put up by Marcos in his 20 years rule pales in comparison to the thousands put up by Pnoy in his 5 years.

THE TRUTH : Marcos was not a fan of education

9. OFWs:

Let’s be fair, Marcos did not create OFWs. Long before Marcos there were already many Filipinos working overseas. The professionals, contract laborers and seamen mostly. Previously, they were know as overseas contract workers. However, Marcos’ abysmal handling of the economy led to massive unemployment, forcing many to go overseas to seek menial jobs. From the late 70’s, the Philippines became a popular source of supply for domestic maids. At the human level, these pinays make great sacrifices to bring food to the table for their families. But it created a stigma on Filipinas overseas as they are all assumed to be maids. The Marcoses gave OFWs a stigma that is still there to this day.

Well, Marcos actually did something good. He created the Welfare Fund for Overseas Workers. He further facilitated the labor export by improving the process for outplacement and the remittance system. That was not for love of Filipinos. Firstly, it was to ease the massive unemployment which was generating dis-content and, secondly, he saw the cash cow in the remittances which helped in boosting the peso value.

THE TRUTH : Marcos gave Pinays the “maids” stigma. Marcos made use of the lowest level of working Pinays to help him prop up the country’s damaged economy.

10. Human rights abuses:

“ I will always say sorry but what I’ve been guilty of to apologize about? We have constantly said, if during that time of my father, merong mga nasagasaan or meron sinasabing hindi natulungan (if there were those who were hit or not given assistance) or they were victimized in some way or another, of course we’re sorry that that happened. Nobody wants that to have happened,” Bongbong (Insincere mode)

In a ABS-CBN interview, Bongbong said those words in reply to a question about atrocities during martial law. All media reported “Bongbong apologizes to victims of Marcos regime”. The media were all taken for fools.

Here’s how an apology should be:

1. It is spoken directly and personally to the aggrieved, not to a reporter.

2. It must clearly communicate the following –

  • regret
  • understanding of the problem
  • acceptance of responsibility (his father’s)
  • willingness to do better (he will not do what his father did)

What’s not an apology :

  1. An apology with an “if” is not an apology (see the “if there were those” – he was saying it’s only a perception, maybe there were no victims)
  2. An apology with “I’m sorry but . . .” is not an apology – because it says that he does not understand why he is sorry. IN this case, he actually went on to say “but what I’ve been guilty of to apologize about”.

He still does not understand that we want him to apologize for his father’s deeds. We know he was not the perpetrator, but it’s the moral apology we want. Why are so many countries still requesting Japanese Prime Ministers since the end of WW2 to make a formal apology? Some PMs have done so, even Emperor Hirohito, but we are not satisfied because the Japanese wording was not tantamount to a proper apology.

Apart from the apology, do the right thing Bongbong. release some stolen wealth to the victims.

THE TRUTH : The Marcoses are not sincere in apologizing. The Marcoses will not use their stolen wealth to help victims of martial law atrocities.

11. The good old days:

Filipinos exasperated with the high crime rate always casually say ‘at least during Marcos martial law years, there was less crime’. If you do not mind the curfews, no Friday night gimmicks, no malling at nights, military personnel frisking you for the slightest reasons, your children participating in student riots, seeing your neighbors or classmates go missing. There was even less crime during the Japanese occupation.

After a societal change, when people get dis-enfranchised with the new way, they tend to long for the good old ways, forgetting the lessons of their history. Many Iraqis prefer the days under dictator Saddam Hussein, many Japanese would love the days of the Samurais, many Southerners in the USA would love the cotton fields of old when they had slaves.

Certainly, the high crime rate is a big problem today. The right way to go is to beef up the police and eradicate poverty. Make the PNP more effective by raising professionalism and reducing corruption in the rank and file. So who in the 2016 polls is most likely to meet this challenge – those with experience in stealing, those who are good in keeping stolen wealth, those we are not too sure about, or those with modern management skills?

I am a Soldier I’m marching on, I am a warrior and this is my song . . .

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” – Edmund Burke

Lies are easy to refute, it’s the half-truths that are the most dangerous. Well meaning Filipinos should do the necessary every time they see the Marcoses and loyalists espousing them. Challenge them!

To paraphrase Churchill, “We shall fight them in the media, we shall fight them in the internet, we shall fight them in public spheres, we shall fight them in the polls.”

It is really amazing how the Marcoses can slap the Filipinos, steal from them under their noses, kill off some of them, impoverish them, and yet make the people love them and forgive them their travesties. All we can say to Marcos loyalists and mindless supporters is this:

“ Envision Baron Herminio Disini sitting on a Queen Antoinette chair, legs raised resting on a Napoleon III table, holding in his hand a crystal glass of Chateau Margaux 2009 as he gazed through the stained glass castle window defined by gold-gilded frames, dreaming of his beloved Philippines, then raising his glass as his lips curled into a smile, and said — SUCKERS!!!”.

From Malacanang Tumbler small