What led to the political comeback of the Marcoses

On Carmma and Karma
With so much ill-gotten wealth and alliances with other members of the ruling elite, it’s no wonder the Marcoses were able to win elections.


MANILA — The Supreme Court decision allowing hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos may have shocked many but it’s a tragedy waiting to happen.

After Marcos was toppled through a people power uprising in 1986, the Corazon Aquino administration and the succeeding regimes did not seriously hold the Marcoses accountable for plundering the nation’s wealth and for gross human rights violations.

Carol Araullo, chairperson of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), said that the political and economic clout of the Marcoses should have been cut.

The Presidential Commission on Good Governance (PCGG) tasked with the recovery of ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses and cronies claims it has recovered $4 billion in cash and assets, less than half of the $10-billion fortune believed to have been amassed by the Marcoses. Pending cases of ill-gotten wealth against the Marcoses amount to more than $365 million, according to the Office of the Ombudsman. There are more than 200 cases filed against Marcos heirs and cronies.

Marcos was never prosecuted in the country for gross human rights violations. According to Amnesty International, 3,240 were killed; 34,000 were tortured and 70,000 were imprisoned during the Marcos dictatorship. The Human Rights Victims Claims Board, meanwhile, has already received more than 75,000 applications for compensation.

While various Supreme Court jurisprudence declare Marcos a dictator and human rights violator, no Truth Commission or special courts were created to prosecute Marcos for such crimes.

Meanwhile, many repressive decrees and jurisprudence issued during the dictatorship remain in force to this day. This includes Batas Pambansa 880 (BP 880) that restricts and controls the right to peaceful assembly and Presidential Decree 1866 as amended, allowing the filing of charges of illegal possession of firearms with respect to political offenses.

It was the martial law victims themselves, through Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda), who filed the class suit in Hawaii after Marcos was overthrown in 1986. In 1995, the Federal Court of Hawaii found Marcos guilty of grave human-rights violations and awarded $2 billion in compensatory damages to the victims.

That it took 15 years for a compensation law to be passed is yet another indication of the succeeding administrations’ failure to give justice to the victims and to the political influence of the Marcoses.

In explaining the political comeback of the Marcoses, Bayan’s Araullo said, “The oligarchy do not care about truth-telling. The oligarchy do not care about justice.”

With so much ill-gotten wealth and alliances with other members of the ruling elite, it’s no wonder the Marcoses were able to win elections.

In 1995, Imelda Marcos became a representative of her hometown Leyte. In 1998, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. was elected provincial governor of Ilocos Norte while his sister Imee became a congresswoman. In 2010, Bongbong was elected senator while Imee was elected as Ilocos Norte governor and Imelda as Ilocos Norte representative.

In 2013, Imee and Imelda won another term. In the last elections, Bongbong lost the vice presidency by a very slight margin. Imee won her third term as Ilocos Norte representative and Imelda as the provincial governor.

As Bonifacio Ilagan, spokesperson of the Campaign Against the Return of Marcoses in Malacanang (Carmma) put it, “Political accommodation has been the order of the day.”

The failure of the educational system and other cultural institutions to chronicle and teach historical facts about the Marcos dictatorship led to the absence of any collective memory.

In some textbooks, the Marcoses are even glorified. Their atrocities were never made known to the younger generations. While Republic Act 10368, also called as the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 mandates the creation of Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, which, among others, shall ensure the teaching of Martial Law in education curricula, this has yet to be implemented.

For Fr. Dionito Cabillas, SELDA spokesperson, the recent Supreme Court decision is a reminder that the oligarchy still reigns in the country and the struggle for justice, freedom and democracy continues. (https://www.bulatlat.com)

Share This Post

5 Comments - Write a Comment

  1. Less than half a century
    and they would have us forget
    bury the narratives of mass arrests and tortures,
    massacres, rapes and business closures
    Less than half a century
    and they would have us sing a different tune:
    Long live the hero! Whose gory hands dripped from the murder of innocent people
    Long live the hero! Whose prisons reeked of rape and torture
    Long live the hero! Whose deviousness extinguished the brilliant minds of a generation
    Less than half a century
    And they would have us deceive ourselves
    that the vote of nine persons could reverse
    the judgment handed down by millions of defiant voices three decades ago.

    Memory is more than remembering the past
    It bridges us with the future
    We create what future generations will look back upon
    This is what we would have for them
    The dictator Marcos interred at Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes Cemetery)
    This will continue as a cultural memory
    Yearly they will commemorate National Heroes Day
    Yearly they will lay wreaths to honor these bravely departed
    Would it bother them that among those they honor
    Is a vicious dictator, a plunderer, and a human rights violator?

    I am deeply concerned about the decision of the Philippine Supreme Court to allow the burial of Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes Cemetery) because it endangers the cultural memory of the Filipino people.

    We would not dispute the fact that Marcos was once a soldier and a president, the two basic requisites the Supreme Court found to be sufficient as legal basis. What I care about is what he had done as a soldier and a president. Many of us seem to have easily forgotten our immediate past. I see this as a consequence of not having a common image of the Marcos years formed after his ouster from power. Knowledge formation through communication and education were not effectively utilized as meaningful discourse and history. This notion actually came out during the elections last May 2016 when the so-called millennials supported the Vice-Presidential candidacy of his son and namesake and echoed the tall tale that the golden years of the Philippine economy was during the Marcos era and that Marcos’ declaration of Martial law was a matter of imposing discipline.

    The Marcos era – those 20 long years of dark history, as some would say – must be translated into a cultural memory, i.e. making the past part of the contemporary by commemorating key events, making the discourse part of the education curricula, objectivizing the experience through artistic products so that we and the future generations will never forget nor repeat the mistakes of the past.

    With Marcos in Libingan ng mga Bayani, the danger lies in what Jan Assmann calls the formative and normative powers of cultural memory that are enshrined in the new knowledge and understanding that comes with him being given a hero’s burial. What values do we assign to the word hero? How do we regard those we consider a hero?

    For now, I take optimism from what Gilles Deleuze calls an ‘Aion’ that one day will crack the deep mesh of this untruthful cultural memory woven by those who dominate Philippine society.#

  2. Hi, I think you made a typo.

    Your article says “3,2490 were killed.” I checked the source to see what it’s supposed to be and the number that I found was 3,240.


    1. Thank you so much for pointing out the typo error.
      Continue supporting Bulatlat.

      1. Sure thing.
        However, you still got it wrong. It’s 3,240, not 3,249.


    The right-minded sovereign people must oust the psychotic Duterte. He is the root cause of all evils.
    Imee Marcos bribed Duterte hundreds of millions of pesos by giving him campaign funds during election and promised to bury the dictator at LNB if he wins. The contribution was hidden by Duterte from his SOCE. Duterte indeed pushed for dictator’s burial at LNB to pay off Marcos hundreds of millions campaign contribution.

Comments are closed.