Howls and jeers online welcomed the news that Ferdinand Marcos Jr was running. More were generated when a society magazine came out with Imee Marcos in its front cover. However, even as a strong voice of outrage resonates across social media and reported on by media, a crucial question remains why are the Marcoses back? Is there an amnesia that has afflicted Filipino society that makes this possible? Who is to blame? It is easy to point fingers at each other and even issue forth a rain of outrage but what were the factors that led Filipino Society back to what is and seems to be the return of the Marcoses into local and national politics – with a possibility that someday a Marcos would again be the resident of Malacanang.
In 1986, the people were converging on Malacanang. People filled the street and like one mass was moving towards the palace. The day before Ferdinand Marcos took his oath before the Chief Justice and addressed the crowd before Malacanang, Bong Bong Marcos dressed in fatigues was with him, as well was Imelda Marcos. Several hours later they boarded a helicopter bound for Clark and from their they were taken to Hawaii. At that time one would think that this was the end of the Marcoses. Yet here we are in 2015, near the cusp of a new presidential election with news of Bong Bong or Ferdinand Marcos Jr. now a Senator and running as Vice-Presidential Candidate. It would not be the first time in history – the Perons, the Medicis, the Bourbons, the Stewarts and Richard Nixon all by himself, just goes to show what effect time and an elderly look can do.
So why are the Marcoses back? Why are the Marcoses able to come back and be on the road to Malacanang ? Where, when and how did it go wrong?
First, The Marcoses were exiled courtesy of the United States Government and eventually charged by the US Government, not by the Philippine Government. Marcos died in Hawaii and Imelda with the help of Gerry Spence was acquitted by a jury of Americans. The Marcoses with the body of Marcos in a refrigerator-coffin came back to Ilocos and Samar re-establishing their political base, making it possible for Imelda, Imee and Bong Bong to get elected unfailingly. To be honest there were suits against Imelda and the Marcos Estate but like a mammoth in tar pit pool it has become stuck:trapped in the Philippine Justice System. One wonders what would have happened if Ferdinand and Imelda met the same fate as the Ceaucescus – shot by a firing squad after their fail from power. Would things be different? Fortunately for the Marcoese all Governments post Marcos did not effectively prosecute them often choosing to pursue civil over criminal cases and preferring exile without a trial and even a sentencing in absentia. While there may be a need to seek restitution for the victims via a civil case there is an equally important need to pursue the criminal case and it should have been done in the Philippines. Unable to do this made it impossible to stamp the indelible mark of Cain on the Marcoses. Failing to do this is one of the factors that allowed the Marcoses to come back.
Second, The political families and network that supported the Marcoses were never dismantled. A number of them were cooped into the succeeding regimes. And of course when Cory came back she reinstated a number of political exiles who were no better than the Marcps politicians. And soon one could not distinguish them from each other. Most of the political elite’s power came from their ability to serve their locality and deliver their vote.A number of these families existing from the Spanish Colonial Period to the present building fat political dynasties – father, mother, son, daughter and other relatives occupying different positions in government. Anyone popular, rich and with political acumen can harness this existing network of political families to run for national office. Failing to dismantle the network of political families make it possible for the Marcoses to come back.
Third, One has to realise that despite the demonising of the Marcoses one things stand out is that the they actually did good things for the people. It was one of lessons learned by Octavian, who would later be known as Augustus, that ambition and greed is more palatable when served with good service, whether by appearance or actual. Corruption and Human Rights Violations are the unspoken/wish-to-be-forgotten relatives of Public Projects and Law & Order. Despite the sins and errors of Marcos he has done good. And in the years of Marcos in power he has accumulated a number of supporters because he has actually helped them. All post-Marcos government were like this – a mixture of good and bad deeds. Failure to recognise the good side of the Marcoses and factor it in any strategy made it possible for the Marcoses to come back.
Fourth, The sins and mistakes of the father is not the sin and mistakes of his sons and daughters. If we were to punish the sons and daughters of those who have done the country wrong then why start and stop with Marcos? Why not the Japanese Collaborators? Those responsible for the butchering of Andres Bonifacio and Antonio Luna ? Even if they deny the crimes and mistakes of the father social ostracism and repudiation at ballot box should be enough to put them at bay. away from any elected post. Yet they have been winning and even what seemed to be loss – The times Imelda run for President was for political manoeuvring – was a win. Canning and putting on a pillory the sons and daughters for the sins and crimes of the father is gut response devoid of moral ascendancy and is one of the things that made it possible for the Marcoses to come back.
Sixth, The children of Marcos actually rebuilt their political power. Ferdinand Marcos Jr, with his political base re-established and secure, Ilocos Norte, was able to build his political career: First, as the Governor with his windmills; Second, as the Congressman of Ilocos Norte; And later as Senator who was one of those seen by a number favourably as those that questioned the flaws of the the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Failure to recognise and include in a plan of containment the led to the return of the Marcoses.
Seventh, Napoleon rose by degrees to become Emperor of France. Coming in after the end of the Reign of Terror he was supposed to remark later that he found the French Crown in the gutter and simply picked it up with his sword. And this brings us to a crucial condition that has led to the resurgence of the Marcoses and possible return to Malacanang Palace. Only a corrupt,incompetent and unemphatic government will provide the means to the Marcos Restoration. In other words failure to have good government is one of the factors that have enables the Marcoses to come back.
A number of us can be shocked, dismayed, and appalled by the return of Marcoses. We may rally and rail against them until the coming of the end of days. Yet as we look at the factors that led to their political resurrection was and is built upon what our leaders and what we have collectively done or fail to do in the past. Hence, The Marcoses have returned.