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'They Didn't Only Hoard Shoes'

(This is a November 30, 2012 essay of Juan L. Mercado for the Philippine Daily Inquirer.)

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“THEY DIDN’T only hoard shoes,” Daily Telegraph culture editor Martin Chilton wrote. “Former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos and wife Imelda amassed an art collection, paid for with stolen funds.” Today, 146 masterpieces—including works by Van Gogh, Renoir, Rembrandt, Cezanne, Magritte and Brueghel the Younger—are missing.

The Manhattan District Attorney has indicted Imelda Marcos’ former personal secretary and two nephews—Vilma Bautista, now 74, and nephews Chaiyot Jansen, 37, and Pongsak, 40, both surnamed Navalaksana—for selling Claude Monet’s “Le Bassin aux Nymphéas” for $32 million. The London buyer had reservations on who the real owners were, according to the indictment. The Monet sale went through on Sept. 14, 2010.

From the proceeds, Bautista funneled $28 million into her bank account. Two real estate brokers got a $4-million commission and a $5-million slab went to the two nephews. “Chaiyot … sent an e-mail, after the sale, to a coconspirator, saying his aunt wanted him to meet with his brother to give him a bundle of caaaaaaaaassshhhh,” the indictment added.

Bautista, who now walks with a cane, is also accused of peddling: Monet’s “L’Église et La Seine à Vétheuil” (1881), Alfred Sisley’s “Langland Bay” (1887), and Albert Marquet’s “Le Cyprès de Djenan Sidi Said” (1946), known as “Algerian View.”

Aunt and nephews face conspiracy raps. Lodged against Bautista and Chaiyot is a charge of failing to report income from the Monet sale. Released on a $175,000 bond, Bautista faces up to 25 years in prison. If convicted, her nephews could get four years in the slammer. Will authorities succeed in getting them to New York from Bangkok?

Newspapers from the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, Honolulu Star Advertiser, to Brisbane Times reported the indictments. “Much of the bounty and privilege the Marcoses acquired in years of power … disappeared with the fog of revolution,” the Australian daily said.

From 1966 to 1986, Bautista held a $3,000-a-month first-secretary post at the Philippine Mission to the United Nations. In fact, she served as Imelda’s eyes and ears and factotum for Marcos functions at the 16-bedroom Lindenmere house on Long Island. She acted as bag lady for “shopping sprees.”

This Oct. 13, 1977, entry appears in “Chronology of the Marcos Plunder” compiled by Charlie Avila: “Today, after addressing the UN General Assembly, Imelda celebrated by going shopping and spending $384,000 including $50,000 for a platinum bracelet with rubies; $50,000 for a diamond bracelet; and $58,000 for a pin set with diamonds. The day before, Vilma Bautista, one of her private secretaries, paid $18,500 for a gold pendant with diamonds and emeralds; $9,450 for a gold ring with diamonds and emeralds; and $4,800 for a gold and diamond necklace.”

A US federal court (9th Circuit) earlier whacked Imelda and her son Ferdinand Jr. (Bongbong) with a daily fine of $100,000. They tried to secretly ship out of the United States paintings and other artworks, from court-contested holdings, for a 25-percent, tax-free share. When the contempt order expired, the tab totaled $353.6 million.

Where do Vilma Bautista and nephews come from? To understand, browse through “A Dynasty on Steroids” written by Jackie Dent, available on the Net.

“Dry, sleepy, tobacco-growing Ilocos Norte remains Marcos territory, as it has been since 1949”—although the Marcos regime killed more than 3,200 people, tortured 35,000, and incarcerated 70,000. That surpassed even the brutality of Chile’s Augusto Pinochet.

The Laurel clan runs Batangas, the Osmeñas (used to monopolize) Cebu, etc. Do the Marcoses merely perpetuate the oligarchic politics that plagues the country? “I always find ‘return to politics’ a misnomer,” Ferdinand Jr. snaps. “We never left.” Or, as Imelda’s daughter Imee remarks drolly: “It is nepotism plus plus, a dynasty on steroids.”

Does a Marcos have to run all the time? “It’s the whole Filipino system—they really count on you, they have all these expectations,” Imee says. “Your family is taking care of their family, which is taking care of your family, and it just goes on and on and on. It’s pretty feudal in the Philippines still, even though we like to fool ourselves.”

That includes Bongbong? “He seems to think that his family did nothing wrong and has nothing to apologize for. He says they have either won cases or they have been dismissed… We have a judgment against us in the billions. What more would people want? That we open our veins and die before them? Is that the solution? … History will be the best judge of the family.”

Benito Mussolini was executed outside an Italian villa; Gaddafi died in the desert, killed by rebels; Robert Mugabe and Castro will probably die in power. “Why are Filipinos so willing to embrace the Marcos family again?” Dent wonders.

Filipinos have a “soft, forgiving culture,” notes former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew in his book “From Third World to First”—“Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over 20 years, still be considered for a national burial. Insignificant amounts of the loot have been recovered, yet his wife and children were allowed to return and engage in politics.”

“Your brother [Bongbong] says that politics is the national sport here,” Dent tells Imee. She replies: “It’s not very sporting, though. No fair play, no rules, very movable goal posts. Not quite right as a sport. It is better as something else. Vaudeville, maybe?”

Spell that as caaaaaaaaassshhhh.

Asian Journal: Chronology of the Marcos Plunder

(This Chronology is compiled by Charlie Avila and originally published in 2012 at the Asian Journal San Diego.)

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September 1976, the Marcoses bought their first property in the U.S. - a condo in the exclusive Olympic Towers on Fifth Avenue in New York . Five months later they would also buy the three adjoining apartments, paying a total of $4,000,000.00 for the four and using Antonio Floirendo’s company, The Aventures Limited in Hong Kong, as front for these purchases.

October 13, 1977 Today, after addressing the UN General Assembly, Imelda celebrated by going shopping and spending $384,000 including $50,000 for a platinum bracelet with rubies; $50,000 for a diamond bracelet; and $58,000 for a pin set with diamonds.

The day before, Vilma Bautista, one of her private secretaries, paid $18,500 for a gold pendant with diamonds and emeralds; $9,450 for a gold ring with diamonds and emeralds; and $4,800 for a gold and diamond necklace.

October 27, 1977 The Marcoses donated $1.5 million to Tufts University in Boston, endowing a professorial chair in East Asian and Pacific Studies at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. The students and professors discovered this and forced the school to reject the donation. To save face, the Marcoses were allowed to finance several seminars and lectures.

November 2, 1977 Still at her shopping spree, Imelda paid $450,000 for a gold necklace and bracelet with emeralds, rubies, and diamonds; $300,000 for a gold ring with emeralds and diamonds; and $300,000 for a gold pendant with diamonds, rubies, and thirty-nine emeralds.

July 1978 After a trip to Russia, Imelda arrived in New York and immediately warmed up for a shopping spree. She started with paying $193,320 for antiques, including $12,000 for a Ming Period side table; $24,000 for a pair of Georgian mahogany Gainsborough armchairs; $6,240 for a Sheraton double-sided writing desk; $11,600 for a George II wood side table with marble top - all in the name of the Philippine consulate to dodge New York sales tax.

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That was merely for starters.

A week later she spent $2,181,000.00 in one day! This included $1,150,000 for a platinum and emerald bracelet with diamonds from Bulgari; $330,000 for a necklace with a ruby, diamonds, and emeralds; $300,000 for a ring with heart-shaped emeralds; $78,000 for 18-carat gold ear clips with diamonds; $300,000 for a pendant with canary diamonds, rubies and emeralds on a gold chain.

After New York, she dropped by Hong Kong where a Cartier representative admitted it was this Filipina, Imelda, who had put together the world’s largest collection of gems - in 1978.

May 1979 The Marcos couple celebrated their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary in a party that cost $5,000,000.00 There was a silver carriage drawn by eight white horses.

November 23, 1978 A house was purchased at 4 Capshire Drive in Cherry Hill , New Jersey (actually near to Philadelphia where Bongbong was taking courses at that time) for use by servants and Bongbong’s security detachment. The Marcoses did not neglect their annual real estate purchase. During this year and next year, 1979, they purchased two properties - one at 3850 Princeton Pike, Princeton - a 13-acre estate for use by daughter Imee as she attended Princeton.

The other was a house at 19 Pendleton Drive in Cherry Hill for use of Bongbong and under the name of Tristan Beplat, erstwhile head of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines.

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April 1979 in two days in New York this month, Imelda spent $280,000 for a necklace wet with emeralds and diamonds; $18,500 for a yellow gold evening bag with one round cut diamond; $8,975.20 for 20-carat gold ear clips with twenty-four baguette diamonds; $8,438.10 for 18-carat gold ear clips with fifty-two tapered baguette diamonds; and $12,056.50 for 20 carat gold ear clips with diamonds.

June 1980 For $1,577,000.00 in New York Imelda buys Webster Hotel on West 45th Street. She rewards Gen. Romeo Gatan as a limited partner. Gatan arrested Ninoy at the beginning of Martial Law. The insurgents’ ranks grew by twenty percent a year. . Meritorious officers in the armed forces experienced low moral due to Marcos’ penchant for promoting friends over more deserving officers.

February 16, 1986 In Fe’s records of monies paid out during Marcos’ last campaign, one unusually large item was authorized by “FL” (First Lady) and paid to Assemblyman Arturo Pacificador on this day. A few days later, two carloads of men drove into San Jose , the provincial capital of Antique.

Evelio Javier, head of Aquino’s campaign, was watching the votes being counted when the men opened fire and killed Evelio after he was still able to run through town but finally got cornered in a public toilet where he was gunned down in front of shocked townspeople. Pacificador was later convicted of the murder.

February 25, 1986 Marcos fled the Philippines leaving behind a foreign debt of $27 billion and a bureaucracy gone mad. “Cash advances” for the elections from the national treasury amounted to Php 3.12 billion ($150 million). The Central Bank printed millions of peso bills, many with the same serial number. Sixty million pesos in newly printed bills were found in a vehicle owned by Imelda’s brother Bejo in the Port Area of Manila, and another Php 100 million aboard the MV Legaspi also owned by Bejo Romualdez.

How massive and humongous a loot Marcos took can be deduced from the known losses he left behind. The known losses he left at the Central Bank included $1.2 billion in missing reserves and $6 billion in the Special Accounts.

Imelda charged off most of her spending sprees to the PNB or Philippine National Bank which creatively wrote off her debts as “unresponded transfers”.

Ver also used PNB funds to finance his “intelligence” operations.

The known losses at the PNB amounted to Php72.1 billion.

At the DBP, the losses Marcos left behind totaled Php85 billion; at the Philguarantee, it was Php 6.2 billion; and at the NIDC or National Investment and Development Corporation (NDC) - the losses amounted to Php 2.8 billion.

These losses were primarily due to cronyism - giving loans to cronies that had little or no collateral, whose corporations were undercapitalized, whose loan proceeds were not used for the avowed purpose, and where the practice of corporate layering was common, i.e. using two or more companies with the same incorporators and officers, whereby one company which gives the loan owns the company which obtains the loan, or similar arrangements.

The cronies enjoyed their closeness to Marcos. With him they formed a Grand Coalition. They participated in the exercise of dictatorship. But Marcos owned them. The wealth of the cronies belonged to him. Because of the free rides taken by Imelda, Marcos and the cronies, the Philippine Airlines was in debt by $13.8 billion.

The conservative Grand Total for losses Marcos left behind (and therefore the kind of loot he grabbed and hid) amounted to $17.1 billion. The Central Bank, the PNB, and other financial institutions badly need an audit. The special review (not regular audit because there seems not to have been any - there are no records anyway) did not uncover Imelda’s spending - her name never appeared - and Ver’s intelligence fund. The review gave no hint of theft or missing money, only “downward adjustments” and “proposed adjustments” to “deficiencies” and “shortages of money”.

February 26, 1986 A few hours after the Marcos party landed in Honolulu, their luggage arrived - 300 crates on board a C-141 cargo jet. It took twenty-five customs officers five hours to tag the bags and identify the contents. The process was videotaped because of all the money and jewelry found inside.

There were 278 crates of jewelry and art worth an estimated US$5 million. Twenty-two crates contained more than Php27.7 million in newly minted currency, mostly hundred-peso denominations worth approximately US $1,270,000. 00 (It was illegal at that time for anyone to depart the Philippines carrying more than Php500 in cash.)

There were other certificates of deposit from Philippine banks worth about US$1 million, five handguns, 154 videotapes, seventeen cassette tapes, and 2,068 pages of documents - all of which were impounded by Customs.

The Marcos party was allowed to keep only US$300,000.00 in gold and $150,000.00 in bearer bonds that they brought in with their personal luggage because they declared them and broke no US customs laws.

There were 24 one-kilo gold bars fitted into 2 0$17,000 hand-tooled Gucci briefcase with a solid gold buckle and a plaque on it that read, “To Ferdinand Marcos, from Imelda, on the Occasion of our 24th Wedding Anniversary.”

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February 1986 When Marcos departed the Philippines, the losses in the three Central Bank accounts surpassed Php 122 billion (more than $6 billion). The big bulk of losses was attributed to the RIR account mainly due to two items: forward cover and swap contracts.

Forward cover referred to foreign exchange provided by the CB at a fixed exchange rate to importers of essential commodities. Swap contracts referred to CB’s receiving foreign exchange from banks in exchange for pesos at the prevailing rate with a promise to deliver the foreign exchange back to them at an agreed future date. There was no mention of losses due to CB transactions in gold or foreign exchange.

February 28, 1986 On this day, Jim Burke, security expert from the US Embassy, was tapping on the wooden paneling in Imelda’s abandoned Malacanang bedroom when he heard a hollow sound. It was the walk-in vault. Inside were thirty-five suitcases secured with locks and tape.

They contained a treasure trove of documents about Swiss bank accounts, New York real estate, foundations in Vaduz , and some notepaper on which Marcos had practiced his William Saunders signature. They also contained jewelry valued at some US$10.5 million.

March 16, 1986 Did Marcos steal any gold from the CB? The CB always refused to comment. Why?
Today, the LA Times reported that 6.325 metric tons of gold was unaccounted for in the Central Bank. Between 1978, the year Marcos ordered all gold producers to sell only to the CB, and end 1984, the Bureau of Mines reported that 124,234 pounds of gold were refined. But the CB reported receiving only 110,319 pounds during this same period.

That left a difference of 13,915 pounds (6.325 metric tons).

March 1986. Jokingly referring to themselves as the Office of National Revenge, a vigilante team led by Charlie Avila and Linggoy Alcuaz received a tip in the morning that Marcos’ daughter Imee had kept a private office in the suburb of Mandaluyong at 82 Edsa. They obtained a search warrant, then rushed to Camp Crame to pick up some soldiers.

After devising a plan, they boarded four cars and drove to the premises, arriving around midnight. The soldiers scaled a fence and sealed off the area. Avila , Alcuaz, and their men moved in and found documents in cardboard boxes, desks, and filing cabinets. Gunfire could be heard outside but it didn’t deter the search.

The documents revealed the names of offshore companies and overseas investments of Marcos and his cronies - a late link in the paper trail that had been started abroad by the teams of Avila, Steve Psinakis, Sonny Alvarez, Raul Daza, Boni Gillego, and Raul Manglapus.

March 09, 1986 A Greek-American, Demetrios Roumeliotes, was stopped at the Manila International Airport before he could leave with eight large envelopes stuffed with jewelry that he admitted belonged to Imelda - valued at US$4.7 million.

March 15, 1986 Ernie Maceda, Minister of Natural Resources, revealed today that some 7 to 14 tons of Philippine gold are sold to the Binondo Central Bank annually and then smuggled to Sabah , Malaysia - this gold being part of some 20 tons produced by 200,000 panners all over the country. Maceda’s query was whether part of the gold they produced was siphoned to the “invisible gold hoard of Ms. Imelda R. Marcos.”

“We deliver to the Central Bank,” the miners said. “If it happened (the siphoning), it happened in the Central Bank.”

Is it true that Marcos propagated the Yamashita myth to hide the fact that he looted the Central Bank, that its gold bars were melted down and recast in odd-size bars to make them look old (how does gold look old, anyway?). Marcos claimed that he “received the surrender of Gen. Yamashita” after a battle with his guerrilla outfit.

History has recorded that Yamashita surrendered to Lt. Co. Aubrey Smith Kenworthy and that there was no battle. Yamashita’s peaceful surrender had been arranged at least two weeks before the event.
In one entry in Marcos’ diary he noted, “I often wonder what I will be remembered for in history. Scholar? Military hero…?”

In a supreme irony, he did achieve what he so vainly sought - lasting fame - but not in the way he envisioned:

The largest human rights case in history - 10,000 victims.

Guinness Book of Records - the world’s greatest thief.

The largest monetary award in history - $22 billion.

September 30, 1986 Questioned by Philippine and US lawyers about his hidden wealth, Marcos took the Fifth Amendment 197 times. Imelda followed suit - 200 times.

December 1989 An American jury found the Marcos estate liable for $15 million in the killing of anti-Marcos activists Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo. Manglapus, Psinakis, Gillego and other erstwhile exile oppositionists testified at the trial.

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November 04, 1991 Today, a Sunday, the circus came to town. The Swiss Federal Tribunal had ruled the year before that the Philippine government must comply with the European Convention of Human Rights, especially due process. There had to be a lawsuit filed within one year. Thus, the solicitor general’s office filed all sorts of cases against Imelda and the government had to allow her to return to answer the charges.

“I come home penniless,” she tearfully said on arrival. She then repaired to her suite at the Philippine Plaza Hotel which cost $2,000 a day and rented sixty rooms for her entourage - American lawyers, American security guards and American PR firms.

December 1991 The Central Bank had accumulated losses of Php324 billion in the Special Accounts.
November 30, 1992. The Central Bank losses were Php561 billion and climbing. Cuisia asked that the CB be restructured. Sen. Romulo asked to see the 1983 audit of the international reserves. He couldn’t get a copy. It was “restricted”.

January 05, 1993 Imelda didn’t show up for the scheduled signing of a new PCGG agreement. She kept vacillating on the terms and conditions - demanding she be allowed to travel abroad for thirty-three days to confer with bank officials in Switzerland, Austria, Hong Kong and Morocco to work out the transfer of the frozen funds.

Actually she was hoping a guy she had authorized, J.T.Calderon, would be able to move the funds just as the order was lifted, before the government had a chance to transfer them to Manila . When the government discovered the authority, all negotiations with Imelda were halted and her requests for travel suspended.

August 10, 1993 Georges Philippe, a Swiss lawyer of Imelda, wrote today a confidential letter to the Marcoses’ old Swiss lawyer, Bruno de Preux, who handled almost all of the Marcos family’s hidden accounts in Switzerland.

Philippe requested de Preux for the status of:

A $750 million account with United Mizrahi Bank in Zurich; Various currency and gold deposits at the Union Bank of Switzerland , at Kloten airport and at Credit Suisse; A $356 million account (now in escrow and worth almost $600 million) which was being claimed by the PCGG.

In 1994, the human rights jury awarded the victims $1.2 billion in exemplary damages, then $766.4 million in compensatory damages a year after that, for a total of $1.964 billion. Two days after, another $7.3 million was awarded to twenty-one Filipinos in a separate lawsuit.

In 1995, the US Supreme Court upheld the $1.2 billion judgment.

March 29, 1995 The Swiss Parliament passed a law (an amendment to a previous act) that removed the need for a final judgment of criminal conviction of the accused (such as the Marcoses) in the case of criminally acquired assets which could now therefore be returned to claimants (such as the Philippine government) by Swiss court order.

July 1996 In part because of the torture of Roger Roxas, $22 billion was awarded to his Golden Budha Corporation.

December 10, 1997 The Swiss Supreme Court promulgated a landmark decision that took into account the March 1995 Swiss Parliament act and the fact that new criminal cases had been filed against Imelda Marcos.

The court held that there was no need for any criminal proceeding; that a civil or administrative proceeding would suffice, and the Marcos Swiss deposits which had been “criminally acquired” can be returned to the Philippines in deference to the final judgment of the Philippine court as to the ownership of these deposits.

The Swiss court also announced that the interest and reputation of Switzerland was at stake if it would become a haven for money launderers laundering money obtained by crime. Therefore, in the case of the Marcos deposits, because “the illegal source of the assets in this case cannot be doubted” the Swiss court ordered that the money be returned to the

Philippines to be held in escrow account in the PNB to await the judgment of the Sandiganbayan in the forfeiture case.

By the way, in January 17, 1975, a secret decree not made public until after the Edsa insurrection was signed by Marcos stating that in the event he became incapacitated or died, power would be turned over to Imelda.

On June 7, 1975, in his own handwriting, Marcos amended the January 17th decree and clarified imelda’s role as chairperson of committee with presidential powers.

In February 1979, Imelda was named chairman of the cabinet committee, composed of all ministries, to launch the BLISS (Bagong Lipunan Sites and Services) program, an ambitious attempt to centralize control of all economic and social development. She assumed responsibility for the “11 needs of Man” codified in her ministry’s multi-year Human Settlements Plan,1978-2000.

By 1986, the number of Filipinos living below the poverty line doubled from 18 million in 1965 to 35 million. And the ecological balance of the country had degraded from 75 % to 27% forest cover remaining - with 39 million acres of forest falling victim to rampant logging. This was BLISS.
She was also the head of the Metro Manila Commission, which by year-end 1985 had managed to accumulate debts of Php 1.99 billion (which included $100 million in foreign loans) in its ten years of existence. Imelda had accomplished nothing and left the people embittered and even more disillusioned.
In September 1992 Marcos was found guilty of violating the human rights of 10,000 victims. The ruling occurred just after a judge found Imee Marcos-Manotoc guilty of the torture and murder of Archimedes Trajano, a 21 year old engineering student at Mapua who had the temerity to ask Imee after a speech she gave whether the Kabataang Barangay (a national youth group) “must be headed by the president’s daughter?”

Imee and brother Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. have been active in the political scene. Bongbong, who finished 3 terms as Ilocos Norte governor, is now running for Senator under Presidential bet, Manny Villar’s senatorial slate.. he’s been quoted as saying that if given a chance, he’d like to run for President one day...(gads).

Bongbong is now a Senator, Imelda is Governor of Ilocos Norte and Imee is in Congress. The MARCOSES are back in full force thanks to our “despicable amnesia” as aptly described by the eminent writer, F. Sionil Jose.

Bongbong Marcos Accountable for Many Other Things

(A consistent voice against corruption and abuse, Teddy is best known for upholding the rights of the poor and marginalized sectors as a three-term congressman of Bayan Muna Party-list from 2004-2013. This is from his personal blog.)

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True, Bongbong Marcos cannot be made to account for his father’s sins. He is just the son. He was a kid when his father imposed a corrupt and brutal dictatorship over the country. It is not his fault to be the son of Ferdinand and Imelda and to have grown up so used to the trappings of absolute power and shielded from the realities of ordinary Filipino lives.

But he is accountable for many other things. Let me count the ways:

  1. Agreeing to and taking part in his father’s corruption, human rights atrocities and other abuses when his family was in power.

  2. His continuing cover-up of his family’s ill-gotten wealth and complicity in various schemes to rob the Filipino people.

  3. His continued enjoyment of such wealth and its use to keep his family in power.

  4. His continued denial, despite facts, historical accounts and official documents, of the atrocities of his parent’s conjugal dictatorship.

  5. His insistence that his father’s decision to impose martial law and one-man rule was correct and that the Philippines never had it so good during this period.

  6. His lying about his Oxford degree.


Miriam Defensor Santiago might be ready to forget all these and move on. Eh di wow.

But not me. And hopefully, not the millions of Filipinos who don’t want another Marcos dictatorship.

'Ang Lamig Ng Baril Pala Pag Nasa Loob Ng Bunganga Mo'

(The following is a repost of a September 21, 2012 article published at GMA News Online, a sidebar to the coverage of the Himagsik at Protesta exhibit about Martial Law at the UP Library. Photo of Neri Colmenares with cousin Angel Locsin is from Noel Abuel of Abante Online.)



The man that faced the crowd at the launch of the Martial Law memorial exhibit, “Himagsik at Protesta,” last Sept. 14 was charismatic and jovial, beaming with an easy, inviting kind of confidence that befits a man of his position.

It didn’t register then that Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Neri Colmenares, the cheery man who captivated the crowd from the moment, was the same man who underwent torture and imprisonment in the time of Martial Law, which he himself described as the “darkest, most horrible and bloodiest chapter in Philippine history.”

Colmenares began his story light-heartedly enough, quipping that he was only a baby when Martial Law was declared.

“Bakit ako magsasabi ng totoo, hindi naman ako tino-torture?” he joked as the audience—composed of activists young and old—erupted in laughter.

In fact, Colmenares was in Grade 6 and only concerned about not having anything to watch on TV when Martial Law was declared. It was only when he entered high school that he gravitated towards activism. Influenced by then-Negros Bishop Antonio Fortich, one of Ferdinand Marcos’ vocal challengers, he joined the fight for human rights.

The congressman’s story turned grave when he shared that at 18 years old, he was arrested and tortured by members of the now defunct Philippine Constabulary.

“Gusto ipadakip siguro nina Marcos si Bishop Fortich, hindi naman kaya, so lahat ng mga subordinates niya , hinuli. Isa na ako dun,” Colmenares shared at the the launch of Karapatan’s “Himagsik at Protesta” exhibit.

“The first thing I noticed…they wanted to humiliate me,” he said, explaining that when he was first caught, he was made to strip naked and beaten with a ruler.

The torture was worse at night, he said.

“To think na on the third and the fourth day, they were not even trying to extract information from me kasi lahat that they wanted to know, nakuha na nila sa iba kong kasamahan,” Colmenares added, saying that when he wrote his confession, his torturers didn’t like it, so they made him eat the paper.

Colmenares said the torture went on for days, but worse than the physical abuse was the mental torture. He said the body goes numb after a few days, but the mind remains receptive.

Colmenares recalled how one of the torturers would make the prisoners squat while he carried a .45 pistol and kicked them randomly from behind.

“Ang nangyayari pala, ‘pag ginagawa sa ‘yo yan, every time he’s in front of you, magre-relax ka, ‘pag nasa likod siya, d’un ka kabahan. In the end, gusto mo tadyakan ka para lang ma-relieve ‘yung tension,” he said.

In another instance, the guard brought him and another detainee to a room, where they made him watch as they inserted wire into the other man’s genitals and electrocuted him.

“Sabi sa ‘kin, upo ka muna Neri ikaw sunod ah...siyempre nakikita ko dumudugo, tsaka ako ‘yung sunod ‘di ba…Grabe talaga ang feeling ko d’un,” Colmenares shared.

“Pero alam mo ang torture nakakapagod din…three hours ‘yung torture, mga ala-una ng umaga, napagod sila. Sabi nila, o Neri, bukas ka na, matulog ka muna. Siyempre, ‘di ako makatulog sa gabi…siyempre, ako ‘yung sunod the next day pero ‘di nila ginawa sa akin,” he added.

Instead, they transferred him to what he called the “headquarters”.

“Grabe yung impunity nung Martial Law. Headquarters eh, tino-torture ka sa gabi, makikita ka nila sa umaga sa mga rooms, mga tao, alam nilang tino-torture ka, pero walang sinasabi,” he said.

Russian roulette

He then shared how one of the guards engaged him in a game of Russian roulette, putting his gun into Colmenares’ mouth. At that point, the crowd had fallen dead silent, gripped by the story.

“Ang lamig ng baril pala pag nasa loob ng bunganga mo,” Colmenares said, his voice echoing across the hall.

According to him, the guard appeared to be drunk and asked him if he felt lucky. The guard then instructed Colmenares to say “Mao” while the gun was inside his mouth.

“Pagsabi kong ‘Mao,’ pinitik niya yung gatilyo. Pag nasa loob ‘yung baril ng bunganga mo, ang lakas ng tunog. Akala ko pumutok ‘yung baril eh. I could see my brain splattered there,” he said.

The guard then pulled the trigger a second time.

“‘Buenas ka talaga, Neri,’ sabi niya, you’re destined to live. Pwede ka na tumakas, umuwi ka na,” Colmenares recalled.

He knew, however, that if he left, he would have been killed. “Tinutulak niya ko palabas, ‘yung sofa na hawak-hawak ko, ‘di ko talaga binitawan. In the end, napagod din siya.”

Colmenares also shared how the guards became frustrated with one of his companions who did not crack even after four days of torture. According to him, they put him inside a drum and buried him alive.

“They could have shot them, they could have killed him, but no, they had to bury him alive for no purpose at all and for years alam mo ‘yung nanay niya, every time she sees me cries. ‘Yan ang problema sa desaparecido pala. Walang closure,” he said.

Pure luck

Why Colmenares survived the ordeal with his life was a matter of pure luck. According to him, the warden chose to keep him alive because his father worked in a bank and had endorsed the warden’s loan.

At that point, Colmenares had just been strangled by an officer so that his tonsils were damaged and he couldn’t breathe.

“In the end, dinaan ako sa bahay. Shocked ang mother ko to see her 18-year-old kid sa isang army truck, nakahiga. Dinala ako sa ospital, ‘yun na, the end of my torture,” he said.

After sharing his story, Colmenares enjoined the audience and especially the youth to continue the struggle against Martial Law, which he believes still exists somehow even today.

“Yung lesson dito, simple… the struggle has not ended…up to this time, 385 people languish in jail for their political beliefs… ‘yan ang isang di siguro dapat natin kalimutan,” Colmenares said.

He added, “I think the running thread today is Martial Law is still enforced in a way and that we have to continue the struggle to make sure that the darkest, most horrible and bloodiest chapter in Philippine history will never happen again.”

Secret Memo: Marcos Knew US Stored Nuclear Weapons in Philippines

(The following is from a 2011 news article from Interaksyon. The document below however comes from the NSA Archive which you can also browse here.)
The US government had secretly stored nuclear weapons in the Philippines "for many years" during the regime of President Ferdinand Marcos and the strongman knew about it as early as 1966, a "top secret" US document that has been declassified and released by a US-based non-government organization shows.




The Rolex 12

Although the proper name for them would be Omega 12 (read below why), people recall them as the Rolex 12. These twelve were primarily responsible for many human rights atrocities, that include torture, murder, seizures of property, displacement from homes, and arrest and detention without due process of people opposed to Marcos.

(The following text is from FilipiKnow. The quoted reference below however is available on most references and now available in original form from WikiLeaks.)
The martial law was not a one-man endeavor. In fact, Marcos sought the help of his ’12 apostles’, later known as the “Rolex 12” (named after the Rolex watches that Marcos gave to them as gifts).

But according to a 1974 confidential memo of then US Ambassador to Manila William Sullivan, Marcos gave the 12 military officers gold Omega watches, not Rolexes. Hence, the proper term would be “Omega 12.”

Before declaring the martial law in 1972, Marcos consulted with the Omega 12, and their plans were contained in a confidential document called Oplan Sagittarius. Five members of the Omega 12, according to Tomas Diaz, even helped create the decrees of Proclamation 1081 before all 12 of them finalized Marcos’ plan.

The following are the official members of the “Omega 12”:

  1. Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile

  2. Philippine Constabulary chief Maj. Gen. Fidel V. Ramos

  3. National Intelligence Security Authority chief Maj. Gen. Fabian Ver

  4. Lt. Col. Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr.

  5. Army chief Maj. Gen. Rafael Zagala

  6. Constabulary vice-chief Brig Gen. Tomas Diaz

  7. Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Romeo Espino

  8. Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Jose Rancudo

  9. Navy chief Rear Admiral Hilario Ruiz

  10. ISAFP chief Brig. Gen. Ignacio Paz

  11. Metrocom chief Brig Gen. Alfredo Montoya, and

  12. Rizal province Constabulary head Col. Romeo Gatan.


The following is from a December 24, 1974 cable from the American Embassy in Manila to the Secretary of State in Washington DC. You can read the full cable at WikiLeaks.

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The Marcos Medals

(Marcos claimed he was the hero of the Battle of Bessang Pass during WWII, earning a total of 33 medals and awards throughout his career. Facts however point to something else: only 2, of of these 33 medals were given in battle. Jarius Bondoc wrote the following essay for the Philippines Star in 2011 citing the expose of Bonifacio Gillego about the medals in 1982.)



Posing as the most decorated Filipino soldier of World War II, Ferdinand Marcos foisted 33 medals and awards. Bonifacio Gillego, in opposing Marcos’s dictatorship, exposed in 1982:

  • Eleven of the 33 were given in 1963, nearly 20 years after the War, when Marcos was Senate President girding to run for President. Ten of the 11 were given on the same day, December 20. Three of the ten unusually were given under only one General Order.

  • One award was given on Marcos’s 55th birthday, September 17, 1972, when he was President, four days before he imposed martial law.

  • Eight of the 33 “American and Philippine medals,” as listed by Marcos’s Office of Media Affairs, were actually campaign ribbons given to all participants in the defense of Bataan and in the resistance.

  • Awards are duplicated for the same action on the same day and place.

  • One is a special award from the Veterans Federation of the Philippines.


Other observations:

  • Marcos earned the Medal of Valor “for extraordinary gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in a suicidal action against overwhelming enemy forces at the junction of Salian River and Abo-Abo River, Bataan, on or about 22 January 1942.” This highest Philippine military award came only in October 1958, when he was senior congressman, 16 years after.

  • Only two of the medals were given during the War. The Gold Cross came on July 22, 1945, “for gallantry in action at Kiangan, Mt. Province, in April 1945.” Supposedly “Colonel Marcos, of the 14th Infantry, United States Armed Forces in the Philippines-North Luzon (USAFIP-NL), with one enlisted man volunteered to reconnoiter area adjacent to the regimental command post at Panupdupan.” Marcos spotted well-camouflaged enemy trucks about a mile away and sent the enlisted man back to RCP to report. By himself Marcos ambushed the Japanese, forcing them to flee after 30 minutes of intense fighting.

  • The Distinguished Service Star came on April 24, 1945. The citation read: “For outstanding achievement as a guerrilla leader. After escaping from the Fort Santiago Kempei Tai, Marcos supported ex-Mayor Vicente Umali, organizer and commanding general of the PQOG… Despite his illness, he stayed at the headquarters in Banahaw to guide both the staff and combat echelons. He refused the rank of ‘general’ offered him by General Umali and organized his own guerrilla group known as the Maharlika.”


Interviewed by Gillego in 1982, Marcos’s two superiors in the 14th Infantry debunked both citations. Col. Romulo A. Manriquez, regimental commander, swore that Marcos was never assigned to patrol or combat, only as S-5 or civil affairs. Not a colonel but a captain, Marcos joined the 14th Infantry from December 4, 1944 to April 28, 1945. No Maharlika guerrilla group was formed in Kiangan on April 24, 1945.

Capt. Vicente L. Rivera, 14th Infantry adjutant, added that he had never recommended Marcos for any decoration. The sighting of Japanese trucks a mile from RCP was geographically impossible because the nearest road was too far, half a day’s hike away.

Manriquez and Rivera said that Marcos requested for transfer to Camp Spencer, USAFIP-NL headquarters, in Luna, La Union, on April 28, 1945. Gilego said this tallied with Marcos’s commissioned biography, For Every Tear a Victory, by Hartzell Spence (1964). In Spence’s version, Marcos and one Captain Jamieson had to break through a cordon of 200,000 Japanese soldiers to get to an airstrip in Isabela. The Piper Cub that arrived took only Jamieson. “An hour later,” wrote Spence, “as Marcos was about to evacuate the area because he heard a Japanese patrol, another supply plane targeted in with an airdrop. Risking discovery, Ferdinand rushed into the open but the plane merely wagged its wings. The pilot was signaling the location of the enemy. Ferdinand tuned his walkie-talkie to the plane’s wavelength and told the pilot, ‘I have a duffel down here with six captured swords in it and three gold bars. They are all yours if you pick me up.’ Instantly the pilot circled, returned, and Ferdinand climbed aboard. An hour later, he was at Camp Spencer.”

Gillego remarked of this passage that Marcos was bounty hunting: “If Spence’s account is true, he makes Marcos guilty of keeping for himself captured or acquired enemy property, in violation of the Articles of War.”

As for the escape from Fort Santiago, Gillego scoured the Kempei Tai files, including the trial papers of its chief, Col. Seiichi Ohta. No record of Marcos as prisoner. Allegedly a Jesuit priest who survived the dungeons had decried the request of Commodore Santiago Nuval to insert Marcos in the roster.

Gillego debunked Marcos’s claim to be the star of the Battle of Bessang Pass to whom General Yamashita nearly surrendered. From the many first-hand accounts, never was Marcos mentioned as a participant in the five-phase operation from February 10 to June 15, 1945.

Among the recollections was “Battle Among the Clouds” (Manila Standard, June 11, 1987) by Justice Desiderio P. Jurado (deceased), who had led the crucial capture of Buccual Ridge. Modestly this true hero of the weeks of seesaw battles, marked by frequent hand-to-hand combat, gave credit to his superiors, peers and subordinates. Towards the end he made mention of Marcos, not as combatant but as the new President who unveiled the marker on the 21st anniversary in 1966.

Research by historian Alfred McCoy confirmed Gillego’s articles belittling Marcos’s exploits. In 1986 the New York Times and Washington Post ran McCoy’s findings based on US Army records. Opposition papers in Manila reprinted McCoy and Gillego’s research. One of Marcos’s “Maharlika co-founders” sued for libel, saying, “I am filing these charges because I felt belittled, ridiculed and disgraced, not only to myself and my comrades, but including those who sacrificed their lives for the country.”

Three other veterans and Marcos comrades-in-arms, Col. Frisco San Juan, Teodulo C. Natividad and Col. Agustin Marking, attacked the reports: “If this … story weren’t so vicious, it would be ludicrous. Mr. Marcos has on his body scars more eloquent than any country’s medals in attesting to his courage, gallantry and self-sacrifice.”

SpotPH: Ferdinand Marcos Jr and the Marcos Mythology

(The following essay is written by Clinton Palance for Spot.PH)

marcos_inside

In 1986 I spent most of the year in Shanghai, when the city was still full of old men in Mao suits and everyone rode a bicycle. The country had recently been opened to the outside world and they got their news from a single government news agency by reading newspapers tacked to communal bulletin boards under the plane trees. Although much of the events of February that year in Manila had been heavily redacted by the censors, everyone we talked to was elated to meet someone from the Philippines. “Aquino!” they said, in Chinese. “People’s revolution!” It was a great time to be a Filipino.

Exactly 30 years later, the people of the Philippines seem to be ready to elect the deposed dictator’s son, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr. to the second-highest position in the country. To a Martial Law baby such as myself, the thought of this is as toxic as the Nazi party returning to power in Germany by popular demand. The surreal spectre of Marcos’ election as vice president is made even more noxious by the unexpected choice of a former human rights lawyer who is known for her outspoken, populist ballsiness as his running-mate for president.

Miriam Defensor-Santiago is too smart to have entered the presidential race expecting to win; but she is expecting to, and most certainly will, have fun along the way. She is no doubt being well-compensated for her acquiescence in the rigmarole, which will be a good retirement fund for a politician wrapping up her career. Although she will not win the presidency, she has the power to be a great disruptive force in what was assumed to be a two- or three-horse race, as well as to be tremendously distracting in the debates, further hindering the public’s attention on issues. It’s an ignominious way for one of politics’ much-beloved Falstaff figures to go out.

How do we explain Marcos’ popularity? It has been less than three decades after the trauma of whimsical “salvagings” of political opponents, routine torture in Fort Bonifacio (the prisoners were held in the lot now occupied by S&R), and massive economic instability and growing debt ended in jubilant crowds and a peaceful revolution that was compared to Gandhi’s liberation. Today, his son Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is neck-and-neck with Francis “Chiz” Escudero for the position of vice president. Are we amnesiac as a people? Is this a failure of collective memory?

There is a concept in Philippine politics about the “masses,” the supposedly imbecilic herd who are easily manipulated and subject to the workings of “machinery.” I don’t know if all this exists or it is quite as simple as all that. But we, the middle class, can’t be too smug. Imelda Marcos, the dictator’s wife, who is a lot less kooky than she seems, is a fixture at society events, and was hob-nobbing with the Ateneo de Manila University faculty at a scholarship event last year. Imee Marcos was famously on the cover of the Philippine Tatler this month, which caused a lot of outrage but sold a lot of magazines. And these are just the people who bear the Marcos name. It is literally impossible to do business or to socialize in Manila without bumping into someone, or the descendants of someone who was, in some way, associated with the Marcoses or profited during the dictatorship.

“Sins of the father,” we say, and brush it off. Nevertheless, one main point of exoneration being used by today’s pro-Marcos camp is that he is not his father; the opposition points out (and quite rightly) that he has shown no remorse and in fact glorifies his father’s presidency. But the truth is that doesn’t have to clear his name. The Marcos presidency looms large in the public imagination, much larger the beleaguered Aquino one that followed it. If you get a random person to recite the presidents, I would wager most would get Aguinaldo, Quezon, and Laurel, then have to think hard up until Marcos. His presidency spanned over two decades; the buildings that Imelda built still dominate the landscape; and he spun a complex and rich mythology that no one has been able to match. “Ang Bagong Lipunan,” the heroic comic-book imagery of springing out from the bamboo as Malakas at Maganda, the appropriation of the Maharlika and all that it stood for, remain unmatched in their imaginative scope. It’s not just that he was a brilliant lawyer who turned into a brilliant thief, but he spun a great story that people still believe.

The history books, post-Marcos, are fuzzy. Even if all the presidents who followed him were capable and honest, which they weren’t, they would still be picking up the pieces of a broken economy. Marcos entrenched a culture of corruption in government that made it okay not just to steal a little but a lot, brazenly, without bothering to keep up a pretence of rectitude. And again, the middle class are complicit: we sigh and cave in to the culture of corruption because it’s the way business is done in this town. We make cynical jokes about dirty politicians rather than hold them to a higher standard, and guess what, they live down to it and more.

We can’t really say #neveragain to something that never went away in the first place. Imelda Marcos ran for president under the KBL banner in 1992; Ferdinand Marcos Jr. won a seat in the House of Representatives in the same year and has been in power almost continuously since then; and there has never been a national election since 1986 that the Marcos money did not have a hand in influencing. I have never quite understood the concept of a bailiwick or of continuing to support a thief and murderer just because we share the same home province, but apparently people do it.

Worryingly, though, Marcos’ popularity, and power, comes from significant strata of the general population outside of Ilocos. While Manuel Roxas II campaigns on the promise of the continuation of “Daang Matuwid,” Ferdinand Marcos Jr. coasts along on the historical memory of his father’s presidency and the paucity of notable personalities to come after him. It’s not so much that people have forgotten about the Marcos presidency, but that there is so little of note to remember that came after it. As the reality of a Marcos return to the Executive Branch looms, some of the old freedom-fighters have emerged from the woodwork to tell, once more, the stories about Martial Law. It may be too little too late; worse, it could even bolster the myth of a strong state that did not tolerate fools gladly. And there is a strong authoritarian streak in our psyche; there are many who believe that an iron hand would be good for the country.

And it is our fault: we are to blame. The fault is ours for not telling the story of the nightmares of dictatorship as throughly as we should have. It is ours for not passing on the torch and responsibility of freedom and democracy to a new generation obsessed only with progress, from Philippines 2000 to the continuing promise of First World status. It is ours for not inscribing that victory in 1986 in the history books, for not making it one of the founding myths of our society.

That Marcos would run for higher office was inevitable, given his quiet but inexorable climb from governor to becoming one of the highest-polling senators. What is unexpected and alarming, though, is his new power base among the youth: a popularity that his very capable communications staff will be translating into votes. Added to the resurgent loyalists and the family’s traditional power base in the north, his victory is almost inevitable. Perhaps it’s time to change the rally slogan of “Never again” to something along the lines of “This ends now.”

8ListPH: 8 Things Millennials Get Wrong About the Marcos Regime

(The following post is written by Marcelle 'Kel' Fabie for 8List.ph a groundbreaking and award-winning site that provides your daily dose of entertaining, useful and informative lists. You can also contact the author here via Facebook.)


There is a saying that goes, “those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it,” and truer words have never been said, especially when talking about the Marcos era of Philippine history. It’s cool to play history revisionist.

It’s cool to look at things that happened, and take a different viewpoint and interpretation of these events, and come away with a different understanding of what has happened. This is not what millennials are doing when it comes to the Marcos era, unfortunately: what they’re doing is ignoring very troubling issues wholesale in favor of some nifty sound bites that make our current situation look pathetic in comparison.

Let’s look at some of these claims about the Marcos era.

Click and read the original post at 8ListPH.

8. Ferdinand Marcos would have been perfect if not for Imelda.

The Assertion: While it’s true that there were some issues with the Marcos presidency, none of it would have happened if not for Imelda. She’s the reason why the whole thing ended up the way it did!

The Reality: First of all, way to understate what happened by just calling it “some issues.” Secondly, are we seriously going to go with the Adam and Eve defense for the guy who was supposed to be the most powerful man in the country?  You mean to tell me that this great, awesome man turned out to be such a softy for his wife that he couldn’t resist her when she asked for a little violation of human rights. 107,240 times.

Let’s turn back the clock even further. Long before Ferdinand Marcos even met Imelda he was already convicted with murder, and was the guy who supposedly pulled the trigger on his own dad’s political rival. The story goes that he studied law, and even while incarcerated, easily topped the Bar Exams, and then represented himself in an appeal to the Supreme Court, who overturned his death penalty conviction. Impressive? Yes. But aren’t we also the same guys who look at really good lawyers with disdain because they let people get away with murder? Why are we suddenly getting wet over Marcos doing it now?

Let’s look at his vaunted military service more, where he earned a ridiculous amount of medals for his service during World War II. Impressive, right? Right, except an overwhelming majority of those medals were lies. If he can make a lie this brazen, are we seriously going to take every other claim about his legacy without a hefty pinch of salt?

7. The Peso was 1.50 to a Dollar.

The Assertion: The Peso was practically on equal footing with the dollar back in the day. Surely, this was a sign that we were a prosperous country under his time!

The Reality: The exchange rate alone isn’t enough of an indicator as to whether or not a country is prospering. Just ask Japan.

While it was true that the Peso and the Dollar were close to each other during the  beginning of the Marcos era, let’s not forget that by the time Macapagal was president, the Peso already sank to 3.70 to a Dollar, and during the first quarter storm in 1970, the Peso went from 4.00 to 6.00 to a Dollar. It was not 1.50 or 1:1 during Marcos’s time. This did not happen.In fact, if you look at this graph, it’s clear that from the 3.70 Marcos began with, he managed the dubious feat of sinking the Peso to 20 to a dollar. That’s a devaluation of almost 600%, which, when compared to the devaluation of the Peso in the ‘90s, where it went from 26 to 41 to a dollar, seemed pretty ridiculous.

Apropos of nothing, the “nakaraang administrasyon” who actually uncoupled the Peso from the Dollar, no longer allowing it to be 2:1 by default, was none other than Diosdado Macapagal. Makes you wonder if Marcos spent his first few SONA’s railing against the guy.

6. Marcos was the Lee Kwan Yu of the Philippines

The Assertion: Lee Kwan Yu was also a dictator in Singapore, but look where his country is now! It’s first-world, it’s first-class, and it’s everything you could ever hope for in a strong Asian nation! Marcos was doing the same thing for us, and we kicked him out!

The Reality: No. No, he wasn’t. And even if it were true, the only reason you don’t hear people badmouthing LKY nearly as much in Singapore is that doing shit like that gets you introuble over there. Or have we forgotten that Singapore isn’t exactly a democracy, really?

The biggest difference between Marcos and Lee Kwan Yu was that for Marcos, propaganda was the end. For LKY, it was a means to accomplishing the things he wanted to do. Does that justify his own litany of human rights violations? Of course not. But this distinction is what allowed LKY to hold onto power for 50 years, almost thrice as long as Marcos did, to the point where Lee Kwan Yu was able to relinquish the position, yet Singapore still remains as prosperous as it had been when the man left the highest office of the land.

Neither did Lee Kwan Yu send Singapore into crippling national debt thanks to his attempts at modernization.

5. The International community supported the Marcos administration, thus legitimizing it.

The Assertion: If the Marcos regime was so bad, why did the US tolerate it for as long as it did? Why did the international community at large just let it run its course? Surely, they saw something there that those of us too close to the matter didn’t.

The Reality: People don’t just get to change a government just because they don’t think they like it, especially if it’s not their own government. Otherwise, do you really think the United States would have allowed Fidel Castro or Kim Jong Il or even Saddam Hussein to stick around for as long as they did?

There’s also the little matter that the U.S. stood to gain much more if it let Marcos stay in power, particularly because he helped them establish a military presence in Asia (they had this war to fight or something in Vietnam, right?), and he was also  a staunch ally against Communism, which was America’s agenda at the time. Speaking of which …

4. Marcos fought against Communism

he Assertion: Marcos was a Commie-fighter, while every administration after him pretty much just tolerates Communism! They’re a threat to our democracy and freedom!

The Reality: How exactly did Marcos “protect” our democracy and freedom against Communism if he took both of these things away from us to “protect” us from Communism?!? Do you see the complete lack of logic in saying this?!? Martial law meant we were not free. He was practically running unopposed in his subsequent elections during the Martial Law era. If we were so afraid that the Communists were going to take our freedom away, why did we let Marcos do it for us  instead?

Oh, that’s right. He took it by force.

3. Marcos greatly improved infrastructure.

The Assertion: Marcos was better because some of the best buildings and roads we use to this very day were built over the course of his 20-year regime. We were on the road to progress!

The Reality: We were also on the road to debilitating national debt, to the tune of $28.5 Billion when he left power. It’s really easy to build roads, buildings, and all sorts of infrastructural projects when, in abolishing Congress, you have complete control over the country’s coffers, and you have twenty years to do them.

Think of it this way: the greatest cultural landmarks of some of the greatest countries in the planet were built on the back of slaves: Egypt and their pyramids, for example. When you look at how we’re still paying for Marcos’s debts all the way ‘til 2025, you realize who the slaves in this analogy happen to be: us. Yes, even you, millennial who wasn’t even a glimmer in his dad’s eye while Marcos was president.

2. Bongbong Marcos doesn't need to show remorse over his father's regime.

The Assertion: Why do we need to shame Bongbong to apologize on behalf of his dad? It was his dad. For all we know, he could be even better as president! Marcos 2016!!!

The Reality: Because if he refuses to acknowledge what his father did, then there is something fundamentally broken in Senator Marcos’s understanding of what his family has done to this nation. None of those roads, none of those schools, none of those edifices could ever bring back the lives snuffed out by Martial Law, but a simple apology, a simple acknowledgment to not let these things ever happen again would go a long way towards healing the pain.

Oh, of course not. Doing that might make his family legally liable, so best keep your mouth shut and pretend these things were just a small part of the era, right?

1. Martial Law was a safer time.

The Assertion: Martial Law may have taken a few liberties here and there, but it was a great time for the country, because everyone was disciplined. People were nicer. Crime rates were low.

The Reality: And if it were Martial Law today, we wouldn’t have the ability to debate its merits on the internet. I mean, seriously. We can complain about every single president who came after Marcos and say we wish we had better days, but when people complained about Marcos and wished for better days back in their time, they disappeared. For good. Just ask Liliosa Hilao. Oh, right. You can’t, because she was raped, tortured, and murdered for the “crime” of being the editor of the campus paper for Pamantasan ng Maynila and a staunch critic of Martial Law.

Normally, when we criticize people, we get a sassy retort as a comeback, or maybe a string of four-letter words. Not rape, torture, and murder. If those three things sound a bit like an overreaction to you, that’s probably because they totally are.

In Pursuit of the Light of Freedom

DavaoToday columnist Don Pagusara writes this preface to a series he is writing for his column starting October 20, 2015:
There has been a lot of noise that aims to drown out sacred truths in the annals of our nation.  The sources of this pollutant noise are mouths that throw up self-serving distortions of historical facts.  They irritate as maliciously as they blaspheme the remembrances of the legions of the Filipino youths whose names now make up the foundation and superstructure of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani.

These youths’ names are as knots in endless strings of stories woven together as a monumental tribute and formidable testimony to their heroism and martyrdom in pursuit of the light of Freedom during the darkest nights in our nation’s history — the martial law period of the Marcos Dictatorship.

Read what his series is all about here.

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