Utang na Loob
Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos declaring martial law, September 21, 1972 (interaksyon com).
It’s his duty to country, he said, that made him decide to inter the corpse. According to him, we should forgive and forget so that the nation could move on.
It’s as if moving on means forgetting what happened. It’s as if moving on means revising or tearing the bad chapter of history so the ill feeling, the pain and the bitter experiences and memories of those who were arrested and detained or involuntarily disappeared, three or four decades ago, would be washed away from our hearts and minds.
The infamous decision also prescribes lying. As if the nation can be likened to couples or families who move on by forgetting grievous acts of infidelity and waste of family resources or savings by the partner or a family member who has also caused great shame and damage to the family. One has to remember only the few good things done. When the person dies, a beautiful eulogy is delivered at the necrological service for him/her and a wonderful dedication is etched on his/her tombstone. In order to move on, one has to be in permanent “state of denial”.
Marcos was president and soldier, he asserts. Duterte dabbles on legal technicality saying that the law that created the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) does not specify whether one had to be a good president.
According to Duterte, no law bars Marcos from being buried in the LNMB. The spirit and objective of the law (RA 289), however, are clear. “To perpetuate the memory of all the Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn…” (Section 1, RA 289)
Meanwhile another law (RA 10766) orders that victims of human rights violation under Martial rule be compensated from Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth.
Even before President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr. declared martial law on September 21, 1972, serious graft and corruption had characterized his administration. Nonetheless, he plotted to stay in power beyond his term and ordered charter change in 1971. But the bribes and threats to some delegates to the constitutional convention (Con Con) were exposed and the scheme to draft a charter suited to Marcos’ plan was foiled.
Marcos then declared martial law, closed Congress and ruled as a dictator. He had a viva voce referendum to ratify the greatly altered draft charter called later the Marcos constitution. State tyranny reigned.
Are we going to forget what Marcos did or do we create a different image of him and let his cadaver be buried at LNMB?
We should not forget the raids soldiers conducted in urban poor communities, at the dead of the night, to conduct body searches of residents, inspect houses and drag men with tattoos or with long hair to interrogation rooms inside military barracks.
We should not forget that soldiers forcibly undressed several hundred women activists during interrogation, molested and/or raped them.
We should not forget that they burned several barrios (now barangays) like in some parts of Samar. In Mindanao, whole Moro and Lumad communities were forcibly evicted and in certain cases massacred. We should not forget that the Philippine military bombed and burned Jolo, Sulu in February 1974. We should always remember that some barrios, like Sta. Filomena in Lanao became a “no man’s land” when the military declared it a “free fire zone.” Not a few farmers spit blood, could hardly urinate or had broken ribs after experiencing torture in their hands. Remember that martial law banned workers’ unions, workers’ strikes and put behind bars and tortured many leaders and ordinary workers. And in Bicol, soldiers forcibly took away seven babies of suspected rebels from the families attending to them and were never seen again.
Marcos was a ruthless dictator that’s why, because of fear, many people went underground or to the mountains and when they realized that they would be dying without putting up a fight, they joined the armed struggle against the Marcos dictatorship.
His fascist rule did not result in discipline but fear and certainly, not in development. Stealing from the state coffers was reserved among Marcos’ family and his cronies and they were stealing big. The number of criminals increased including a big number of soldiers and officers who got involved in different kinds of criminal syndicates. And, the paramilitary Civilian Home Defense Forces or CHDF that he formed became small gangs of plunderers in the rural areas.
As they lived like king and queen, Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos raided the national treasury. The Philippines sunk deeper in debt while they stashed away billions of dollars of the country’s wealth in banks outside the Philippines. Had they not plundered the country, the Philippines could have built more than one cultural center, international convention center, film center, kidney and heart hospitals, more than one line of the light railway transit (LRT) and other infrastructures.
Burying the late dictator in the LNMB means trampling on the sovereign will of the people that ended the dictatorship. We should not forget that the people overthrew the Marcos Dictatorship in the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. We should not forget also that the bigger number of soldiers and officers of the Armed Forces joined in dismantling the dictatorship.
The former dictator should never be made a hero for the youth to emulate. It is troubling that Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. is the idol of the president.
Is it his duty to the people that made him decide to have Marcos buried in the LNMB? Or, as payback (bayad sa utang-na-loob) to the family that supported his candidacy?
Utang na loob, sobra na! (for God’s sake, stop this madness) Stop the moves that defile the history of genuine heroism of the Filipino people.
We don’t have to forget the past in order to understand the present and shape the future.
Military reign or dictatorship should not be allowed again, never.K