Reaping the Whirlwind

(This is a re-post of Carol Pagaduan-Araullo's Streetwise column Reaping the whirlwind originally posted at Businessworld Online)
In the end you cannot cheat history. History will not err in its judgement because no matter how you fabricate achievements, glorify events or conceal truths, a true people’s history will eventually unmask the fake heroes and the judgement on them will be harsh and severe. -- Renato Constantino, September 24, 1975

Finally, the Marcoses have had their way, a hero’s burial for their despot-patriarch at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB), but without the pomp and grandeur of a state funeral that they had been dreaming of for decades. On the contrary, they had to settle for a simple military funeral and an elaborate subterfuge -- false public announcements about funeral arrangements; the secret airlifting of the Marcos remains from Batac, Ilocos Sur to Manila courtesy of a military chopper; and a formidable police security cordon to prevent anticipated protesters, the mass media and the general public from entering the LNMB during interment rites.

So why didn’t the Marcoses choose to churn out a grand palabas out of the event, Imeldific no less, complete with a horde of Marcos loyalists, to lend it a semblance of popular acclaim?

The obvious reason was to throw off those vehemently opposed to such a travesty -- Martial Law victims, human rights advocates, civil libertarians, advocates of clean government and mass organizations of the Left that have persistently thrown legal and political obstacles in their way.

The lifting of the status quo ante order of the Supreme Court was seized by the Marcoses and their political patron, President Rodrigo Duterte, to hurriedly and sneakily carry out the fait accompli, despite a 15-day period in which petitioners could have filed their motion for reconsideration.

The collusion between the Marcoses and President Duterte is clear and can no longer be denied nor downplayed. The latter justified and cleared the way to the hero’s burial by whitewashing Ferdinand Marcos’s brutal one-man rule and its legacy of gross human rights violations, grand larceny of the public coffers, destruction of the national economy and treasonous puppetry to foreign dictates. To top it off, Mr. Duterte deliberately glossed over the judgement of history -- a history made by an aroused and enraged people -- of ousting the hated tyrant.

After the fact, Imee Marcos once more calls for healing and unity ad nauseam. Mr. Duterte’s spokespersons pretend that he did not know that the burial would be taking place so soon. AFP and PNP officials pretended they merely took their cues from the Marcos family. And President Duterte for his part wants people to believe that he merely did his legal duty, smugly confident that his current popularity would weather any consequent political fallout.

With the dastardly connivance of Mr. Duterte, the Marcos family is attempting nothing less than the rewrite of history. The same-day video of the burial released by the Marcoses flaunt for all to see that indeed he received the full trappings of a hero’s burial. Years from now, it will be the only extant documentation of that infamous event.

But the people see through the charade.

The explosion of protests as news of the Marcos burial broke is a portent of what lies ahead. The expressions of rage and condemnation were widespread both in Metro Manila and in other urban centers where people massed up and held protest actions.

All were one in saying “Marcos is no hero” and decrying the indecent haste with which the Duterte administration carried out the bidding of the Marcoses. Some people felt duped; some betrayed. All were visibly angry and vowed to exact some form of retribution including disinterring the Marcos remains from its undeserved resting place. There were spontaneous expressions of solidarity from motorists and other passers by who made impromptu placards or honked their horns.

Prominent were not only human rights victims or their families and those who lived through the horrors of Martial Rule but many students from various university campuses as well as young professionals. This youthful character of the protests seems to belie the notion that “millennials” have tuned out the issue and just don’t care.

The activists in the crowd took pains to highlight the real heroes who fought against the dictatorship including the thousands of young people who went underground to join the revolutionary resistance. They organized in the slum areas, among striking workers and dispossessed peasants. They joined the New People’s Army and the Moro National Liberation Front to wage an armed struggle to weaken the fascist military as well as the dreaded constabulary force. As they were in the forefront of the anti-dictatorship struggle, they bore the brunt of the fascist state’s repression. They constitute the overwhelming majority of martyrs as well as victims of enforced disappearance, torture, and illegal arrest and detention.

The Marcoses and their cohorts, most especially Mr. Duterte, may think all these protests will blow over consistent with the conventional wisdom that Filipinos have a short memory or are prone to amnesia.

On the contrary, they themselves provide the reason why these protests are only the beginning. The Marcoses will not stop at historical revisionism.

The Marcoses’ real goal is not so much to establish Marcos’s heroism -- for the Marcoses know best the lies behind this -- but to bury the truth along with the dictator’s corpse, erase from our national psyche the nightmares of the Marcos era, and clear the grounds for a Marcos Restoration. Their next stop is Malacañan Palace no less. As many have correctly surmised, Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos, Jr. sees himself as the rightful successor to his father and the anointed one to carry on the Marcosian legacy.

As for Mr. Duterte, this shameful episode of willful, premeditated complicity with the Marcoses will have its political costs. His authoritarian slip is already showing what with his undisguised admiration for the dictator Marcos; his propensity for legal short cuts that not only mean lack of due process but a rising pile of dead bodies in his vaunted “war on drugs”; his unqualified backing for and granting blanket impunity to police and military operations masquerading as counter-drug/counter-terrorist that are part and parcel of abusive counter-insurgency operations or even hit jobs by questionable quarters; and his threat to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and resurrect the Philippine Constabulary or a militarized police force.

Mr. Duterte’s credibility as a reforming president is steadily being eroded especially with no real headway in basic socioeconomic reforms; his flip flopping over his foreign policy pronouncements; the continuing militarization of the countryside; and the non-release of over 400 political prisoners crucial to progress in peace negotiations with the NDFP. He has not taken a single step to stop the government policy of criminalizing political offenses such as rebellion three months after he declared he would do so, “otherwise we will never have peace because there will always be in injustice.”

There are attempts to reduce the Marcos hero’s burial as part of the continuing rivalry between the Marcoses and the Aquinos.

Unfortunately, the attempt of the Yellow Crowd to write history from the narrow perspective of those who gained the most from EDSA 1, the Cojuangco-Aquinos and their retinue, fuels this false dichotomy. And the narrative, discredited and hollow as it is, is the kind that the Yellows are trying to recycle even now. Their obvious agenda is to bring about the failure and eventual downfall of the Duterte presidency, and the return of the Liberal Party to power.

In the final analysis, history eventually gets to be written by those who make it -- by the masses of people who decide to take their destiny into their own hands. They are the real heroes, and they know full well who stands with them and who does not.

(Carol Pagaduan-Araullo is a medical doctor by training, social activist by choice, columnist by accident, happy partner to a liberated spouse and proud mother of two.