How Duterte enabled the return of the Marcoses

Graphics by Dominic Gutoman / Bulatlat

From 1992 to 2002, the Marcos family was acquitted of seven separate counts of graft charges. In the past five years, however, five graft cases against the Marcoses were dismissed. And though Imelda Marcos, the wife of the late dictator who held several government offices during their two-decade rule, was convicted of seven counts of graft cases under the Duterte administration, she remains scot-free.

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO and DOMINIC GUTOMAN
Additional research from Arneth Asiddao
Graphics by Dominic Gutoman

Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Five years ago today, the late dictator was given a hero’s burial – a fulfillment of an election promise that President Rodrigo Duterte made when he was still running for the country’s highest post. The president claimed it would erase people’s hatred.

For human rights groups, it did not.

Instead, the move sealed the alliance between the two political families as early as 2016, said the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law (CARMMA). In next year’s elections, the son and namesake of the late dictator, Marcos Jr. is bidding for his family’s return to Malacañang, along with Davao City mayor and the president’s daughter Sara Duterte as his vice president.

“Not content with this bastardization of our nation’s history and our people’s struggle for freedom and justice, Duterte has spent the past five years reviving in full the horrors of Marcosian martial law in his murderous campaigns of State terror, from his militarization of the civilian bureaucracy, the criminalization of political dissent, the killings of activists and attacks on press freedom, and his tyrannical delusions,” a CARMMA statement read.

The hero’s burial came just 10 days after the Supreme Court dismissed the petitions against it, saying that the president did not commit grave discretion as the regulations of the Philippine military allowed it.

Graphics by Dominic Gutoman / Bulatlat

From 1992 to 2002, the Marcos family was acquitted of seven separate counts of graft charges. In the past five years, however, five graft cases against the Marcoses were dismissed. And though Imelda Marcos, the wife of the late dictator who held several government offices during their two-decade rule, was convicted of seven counts of graft cases under the Duterte administration, she remains scot-free.

Glorifying the Marcoses

President Duterte, from his days of campaigning to the day of his 2016 victory, has been very vocal in glorifying the Marcoses. This is unprecedented in all of the administrations after the ousting of the late dictator’s two-decade rule.

“(The) martial law of Mr. Marcos was very good,” he said in a 2017 public address.

His spokesperson, on the other hand, once said the president genuinely wishes to step down if “a qualified leader like Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was in place to take the top job.”

While the Marcos family, Imee in particular, is not listed as his donor in the 2016 elections, President Duterte said that she was among those who supported his bid. His father, Vicente Duterte, was, after all, a cabinet member of the late dictator, whom the president described as “one of the two who stood by Marcos in his darkest hours.”

In the months leading to the 2016 elections, there were reports of a “Duterte-Marcos” tandem even when both of them had different running mates at the time – Duterte with lawmaker Alan Peter Cayetano and Marcos Jr. with the late former Sen. Miriam Santiago.

Duterte said he cannot disassociate himself from the Marcoses and has openly asked the Supreme Court to block a petition that seeks to cancel the hero’s burial for the late dictator.

Laying the ‘foundations of their return’

CARMMA said that even before Marcos Jr.’s defeat in his vice presidential bid back in 2016, the Marcoses have been slowly working “to lay the foundations of their return to power through their machinery of historical distortions to whitewash the atrocities of the late dictator’s brutal regime.”

This, the group of martial law survivors said, was funded by “no less by their ill-gotten wealth plundered from the nation’s coffers in their two decades in power.”

Others argue that the Marcoses have not really left.

Thinktank Ibon Foundation said that the hidden ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses makes the family of the late dictator the richest in the Philippines. Assuming that they only had $5 billion in 1986, the independent think tank said this could have inflated by now to at least $38.4 billion or P1.87 trillion at current exchange rates.

The estimate covers interests on deposits, earnings from investments, and appreciation in the value of real properties and assets.

We remember, we do not forget

As it stands, the upcoming elections are not short of drama on who is running and on what public seat. President Duterte questioned her daughter’s decision in a public address, asking why she would slide down to a lower position when she was leading the survey. The president’s former aide, now Sen. Christopher Go, who was originally slated to run as vice president is now running for president. President Duterte, on the other hand, will now run for a senate seat.

But for CARMMA, what is clear is that they have “struck an alliance,” which may “cement their families’ bloody legacies but to escape accountability and to completely rewrite and distort history.”

“We remember the crimes of the Marcoses and the Dutertes all too well, and we vow to never forget as we firmly stand for truth, justice, and our rights as we say never again,” CARMMA said. (RVO) (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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