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A hero’s burial for Marcos is a shameless attempt to rewrite history Over 200 lawmakers in the Philippine Congress have signed House Resolution 1135. Introduced by Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero III, HR 1135 urges President Benigno Aquino III to allow the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (National Heroes’ Cemetery). The essence of the resolution in itself is abhorrent, while the justifications cited in the “whereas” clauses betray either a sheer ignorance of established facts or a shameless attempt to twist history.
Among those who endorsed HR 1135 is former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, her sons Mikey and Dato, and brother-in-law Iggy (of Jose Pidal fame). Celebrities-turned-lawmakers Dan Fernandez, Lani Mercado-Revilla, and Lucy Torres-Gomez also backed the said resolution. Naturally, Imelda Marcos signed the move, together with Pangasinan Rep. Kimi Cojuangco (Danding’s daughter-in-law), San Juan Rep. Joseph Victor Ejercito, and Las Piñas Rep. Mark Villar . Ejercito’s father, former President Joseph Estrada, also moved for Marcos’ burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani during his presidency. Meanwhile, Sen. Manny Villar got the Marcoses’ endorsement for his 2010 presidential run*.
The resolution commended Marcos for being “a well-decorated soldier, a veteran of World War II, and a survivor of the Bataan Death March.” Official U.S Army records have quelled his tale of leading a guerilla unit named Ang Mga Maharlika as early as late 1940s. One of those who unearthed this damaging fact (as far as Marcos is concerned) is American historian Alfred McCoy from the University of Wisconsin. He detailed his research in the book Closer than Brothers. His findings were reported by New York Times in 1986. The front-page story was released merely two weeks before that year’s snap presidential elections between Marcos and Corazon Aquino. Some excerpts** :
“Throughout his political career, Mr. Marcos, now President of the Philippines, has portrayed himself as a heroic guerrilla leader, and the image has been central to his political appeal… Documents that had rested out of public view in United States Government archives for 35 years show that repeated Army investigations found no foundation for Mr. Marcos’s claims that he led a guerrilla force called Ang Mga Maharlika in military operations against Japanese forces from 1942 to 1944.”
HR 1135 noted that Marcos “built the modern foundations of the Philippines” as its “longest serving president.” “He was responsible for the construction of vast infrastructure, the utilization of our energy sources, and the strengthening of local governments.” No mention of the fact that these projects (e.g. the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant) were financed by foreign institutions like World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and that the bulk of these were pocketed by who else? In 2004, Transparency International ranked Marcos as the 2nd most corrupt leader in the world, next only to Indonesia’s Suharto*** . His loot was pegged at $10 billion. In fact, a government body was created to try to recover the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth.
“It can never be gainsaid that Ferdinand Marcos gave invaluable service to his country as soldier, writer, statesman, President, and commander-in-chief.” The effects of the Marcos dictatorship in many aspects of the Philippine society has been studied extensively the past decades by a wide array of scholars, journalists, political scientists, historians and many others. A cursory view of these would reveal a legacy of failure. I am not a big fan of the current president, I did not even vote for him. However, we cannot just allow this blatant attempt to sugarcoat reality. On the entrance of the Libingan ng mga Bayani, it is written: “I do not know the dignity of his birth, but I do know the glory of his death.” What is glorious in having 3,257 killed, 35,000 tortured, and 70,000 political dissidents incarcerated under your administration****?
[*] ______________. Does your representative approve of Marcos’ burial in Libingan? ABS-CBN News Online. http://www.abs-cbnnews.com/nation/03/29/11/does-your-representative-approve-marcos-burial-libingan. Accessed March 29, 2011.
[**] Gerth, Jeff and Brinkley, J. Marcos Wartime Role Discredited in U.S. Files. New York Times Online. http://www.nytimes.com/1986/01/23/world/marcos-s-wartime-role-discredited-in-us-files.html?scp=2&sq=ferdinand+marcos+war+medals&st=nyt
[***] _____________. Suharto tops corruption rankings. BBC News Online.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/3567745.stm. Article dated March 25, 2004.
[****] McCoy, Alfred. Dark legacy: Human rights under the Marcos regime. World History Archives. http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/54a/062.html.