FOR the many of us who had grown to adulthood in the 1960s Philippines, and are looking at the election process that culminates in a nationwide May 16 voting, cannot but feel this creepy sense of “de javu – all over again” (apologies to Yogi Berra). I am specifically referring to the massive propaganda onslaught began months ago by the Marcos Jr. media sycophants who want to rewrite history by evoking the myth that the Marcos Sr. martial law years from 1972 thru 1986 was “beneficial” to the nation. The leader of this revisionist effort is none other than Ferdinand Marcos Jr., currently a senator and one of the major candidates for vice president.
Over the past couple of years Marcos Jr. has often attempted to portray his late (and much hated) father as another “Lee Kuan Yew” , the late Singaporean leader who transformed his small island nation into an economic, banking and industrial powerhouse. Let’s be clear on this.
While both Marcos Sr. and Lee Kuan Yew can be described as “strongmen” or dictators what each created for his own country was drastically different and antithetical. What Mr.
Lee brought about in Singapore was a system of government that was beneficial to its citizens in the many aspects of life that emphasized excellence, honesty and integrity. What Marcos Sr. did to the Philippines was debauchery of the most wanton and sinister kind. The Marcos family, and their coterie of relatives and friends, enriched themselves by all possible means of theft and chicanery. During those fifteen or so years when they ruled with absolute power anyone who opposed them or refused to succumb to their nefarious tactics very often saw their businesses grabbed, persons jailed and tortured; and murder was not a deterrent to the achievement of their ends.
There are those who now claim that it was “peaceful” during the Marcos dictatorship. If so it was the kind of peace one experiences in cemeteries and burial grounds. These same people doubtless either did not hear or lent a deaf ear to the many wails and sobs of the thousands who suffered torture in the custody of the Marcoses henchmen.
The propaganda effort now underway has all the markings of the Marcos Sr. propaganda machine during the sixties and seventies. In fact it goes much earlier than that. Right after the end of WWII, Marcos Sr. tried to transform the recollection of his wartime “exploits” from that of a Japanese spy into a “war hero”. The attempt was foiled when US Army brass familiar with the war effort in the Philippines described his claims as ‘Absurd, Fraudulent’ as reported by both the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times.
To quote the LA Times report filed by Times reporter Michael Wines dated Jan. 24, 1986:
“WASHINGTON — Philippine President Ferdinand E. Marcos made ‘criminal’ misrepresentations of his role in a World War II guerrilla unit 40 years ago in a bid to collect U.S. benefits for wartime service, according to documents released Thursday by the National Archives.
“The papers—records of a U.S. inquiry into Marcos’ claim to federal benefits—appear to demolish the elaborate claims of wartime bravery that have defined his 20-year reign as Philippine president and that figure heavily in his Feb. 7 reelection campaign against opposition leader Corazon Aquino.”
Wines also said that it became necessary for the US Army to make this categorical statement because in their files was a report from 1948 which concluded that
Marcos did not exercise any control over a guerilla organization prior to liberation of the islands.
As election day approaches it is expected that all media outlets in the Philippines will likely be swamped by advertising and publicity material from the Marcos Jr. machinery. One of the favorite taglines of their campaign is the statement that “the sins of the father should not be visited on the son”, meaning to say that Marcos Jr. should be looked upon with pristine eyes. This is hard to do when his present propaganda effort is quite the replication of his father’s past techniques. It is established that Marcos Sr. was a “fake hero”. And those of us alive during the martial law years clearly remember that the portrayal by Marcos Jr. of those years as peaceful is clearly a “fake era” that only lives in the mythology that the Marcoses continue to spin.