Fri, December 03, 2021


Why the Marcoses are still in power

It remains a disconcerting vision. Imelda Marcos, who has been convicted on no less than seven counts of graft and corruption, attended last week’s swearing-in of her daughter Imee as the family dynasty’s third and latest senator.

Imee had earlier lied that she graduated from Princeton and UP Law, while her lawyers did not deny in a US court that her bodyguards tortured and killed Archimedes Trajano – a student activist during the martial law era whose death is attributed to Imee. 
Glitzy still with her signature (stolen?) jewellery, Imelda looked perfectly fit at 89, hardy enough to spend the rest of her lifetime in jail. 
But why isn’t she behind bars?
The answer lies in what is now our Orwellian two minutes of hate: the Edsa People Power Revolution and the Cory Aquino presidency that failed to develop systemic change and instead merely ushered in an era of more opaque politics. Recent history is still fresh.
A few brief facts paint the full picture: on November 4, 1991, Cory allowed Imelda and her children to return to the Philippines after living in exile in Hawaii for more than five years. Soon after her return, the former first lady quickly started her bid to return to politics.
Why were they allowed to return? Why did Cory allow her to run? This was what opened the floodgates for their flight from law and their persistent lying to the Filipino people. Naturally, the worse was yet to come.
Imelda ran for president in the 1992 election, finishing fifth out of seven candidates. Three years later, in 1995, she was elected as representative of Leyte’s first district, despite facing a disqualification lawsuit in which the Supreme Court ruled in her favour. She again sought the presidency in the 1998 election, but later withdrew to support Joseph Estrada, who emerged as winner. In that election, she finished ninth among the 11 candidates.
Notice the trend of the family’s moves to re-establish themselves in power: Imelda ran as representative for Ilocos Norte’s second district in 2010 to replace her son, Ferdinand Jr, who ran for the Senate under the Nacionalista Party. She sought re-election, and won, in 2013 and again in 2016.
Meantime, Imee, who had told a US court that, “Yes, Archimedes Trajano was tortured and killed but it’s none of your business”, conspired her own return. She was representative of Ilocos Norte’s second district from 1998 to 2007. In the 2010 elections, she ran and won as governor of Ilocos Norte against her cousin, Michael Marcos Keon. She was re-elected in 2013, unopposed, and again in 2016. She placed No 8 in the senatorial race in the recently concluded midterm elections.
The Marcos dictatorship was draconian autocracy and family kleptocracy combined. Our response as a nation to the crimes committed by all members of that family was benign, to say the least. The creation of the Presidential Commission on Good Government was correct: 171 billion pesos (Bt104 billion baht) in recovered funds since 1986, of which 35 billion pesos was in Swiss accounts. But aside from that, a swift special trial court could have convicted them easily, their passports invalidated, then extradited and banned them from public office forever. A crime is a crime, period.
Current President Rodrigo Duterte said his biggest campaign contributor was Imee Marcos. However, it is not Duterte who is responsible for resurrecting the Marcoses. It is rather our wrong sense of justice – we confuse the mercy of God with forgiving criminals. Pardoning the criminal arbitrarily – or “moving on” in current parlance – is a mistaken application of Divine Mercy in a human court. There was no need to resurrect the Marcoses, because we never ousted them. We even elected Duterte and his bloody drug war because our concept of justice has been distorted away from the natural law of justice – the duty to act with fairness – to begin with.

Published : May 27, 2019

By : Antonio Montalvan II  Philippine Daily Inquirer  Asia News network