The dog-eared papers, on our computer, dealt with Ferdinand Marcos padlocking the press. This September is the 40th anniversary when Marcos imposed batas militar in 1972.
One is an “Asso” or arrest-and-seizure order. Signed by Defense Minister Juan Ponce, raiding teams used them to arrest 22 Manila-based journalist. “Here is mine,” we told Associated Press Carl Zimmerman who’d hitched a ride to Camp Crame. “Foreign correspondent ?”, snapped the colonel who snatched the Asso: “You’re not to see these.”
“Assos” were served on Free Press’ Teodoro Locsin, Napoleon G. Rama, Daily Mirror Armando Doronila and others. We’d fractured something called “Proclamation 1081”.
Our file has letters of protest. Jaime Zobel de Ayala, then ambassador to London received one from Financial Times editor JDF Jones. “I express concern at detention by your government of our correspondent, Mr. juanlmercado.” A cable from the Bulletin in Sydney says. “Our editor Donald Horne cabled President Marcos today requesting release…”
“Senator (Daniel) Inouye interceded with the Philippine Embassy in Washington”, Honolulu Star Bulletin editor A.A. Smyster wrote. Associated Press Managing editors and other US groups adopted resolutions on behalf of imprisoned journalists…” late cartoonist “Corky” (Trinidad) sparked these protests.
Memory anchors three essential elements for healing in a post-dictatorial regime, Inquirer Randy David writes “Truth, justice and reparation… Today’s young people hardly have an idea of what happened during 14 years of dictatorship”. The idea of establishing is “museum of memories” is being floated.
Consider the Marcos Museum in Ilocos Norte. It houses the mausoleum that displays embalmed remains of Marcos, ala Lenin and Mao. Memorabilia include books, the bed he was born in, even questioned World War II medals.
Marcos medals were bogus, asserted a New York Times series, by Syemour Hersh in 1986. TheTimes used US National Archives research done by University of South Wales professor Alfred McCoy (His book ”Closer Than Brothers”, compares 1940 Philippine Military Academy graduates with those of Class 1972 who provided “the mailed fist for martial law: Ping Lacson, Gringo Honasan et al. )
Services given by Marcos and 23 others, to the 1st Cavalry Division in 1945, were “of limited military value,” Times reports by Jeff Gerth and Joel Brminkley added. “At no time did the Army recognize that any unit, designating itself as Maharlika, ever existed as a guerrilla force in the years of Japanese occupation…”
Yet, Marcos remains a hero to some. “Ilocos Norte has been an entire republic unto itself history-wise,” Columnist Conrad de Quiros notes. Their version of history differs from the rest of the country. Does that upset anybody?
In 2007, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines opened a Martial Law Memorial Wall in Quezon City. A year earlier, Manila inaugurated its “Memorial Wall of the Victims of Martial law”. Etched into the black marble are names of over 800 dictatorship victims, including Jose Diokno, student activist Lean Alejandro. “I die just when I see the dawn break”, from Jose Rizal’s poem Mi Ultimo Adios, is carved into the plaque.
What would go into a “Museum of Memories?” Among other items, Senator Benigno Aquino prison diaries. When coup rebels were poised to overrun Malacanang, in 1989, President Corazon Aquino entrusted the Aquino diaries to Benedictine Rector Bernardo Perez.
Include the “Marcos Diaries.” People Power crowds discovered them in cardboard boxes, stashed in an obscure Malacanang corner. Ambeth Ocampo published, in his Inquirer column, excerpts, focusing on days that ushered in rule-by-bayonet. “The diaries are a primary source for the historian”.
Handwritten in English, on Palace stationery, penmanship unusually neat, Marcos diaries offer a “compelling story of a complex man who sought to document his place among the world’s great leaders “, writes Los AngelesTimes correspondent William C. Rempel in his book: “Delusions of a Dictator”.
Instead, they show “a deceiver who lied to his allies, to his nation, his wife, and, at times, even to his own diary. It documents fears and fantasies that drove a paranoid, messianic leader to depths of deceit and to the heights of authoritarian power. “
Marcos Diaries provide an answer for a puzzle that bugged journalists over: a second pooled editorial that never was.
The first-ever pooled editorial here skewered “Compartmentalized Justice” of a decaying “New Society”. Upon request of Chino Roces, Manila Times Alfredo Roces wrote the draft. All dailies ran it on the same day. President Ferdinand Marcos went ballistic.
Malacañang phone calls went to publishers with less grit. When a follow-up pooled editorial was proposed, the now defunct Evening News hastily bailed out, Viewpoint recalls. Others waffled. Thus, a second pooled editorial never materialized. Why?
In his January 12, 1971 diary entry , Marcos wrote: Evening News publisher “Freddie Elizalde showed me a copy of an editorial which Chino Roces wanted to be pooled by all the newspapers castigating me and asking for my resignation and that of the cabinet. For good measure the editorial included the Vice-President. It was opposed by Freddie and (Philippine Herald) Sebastian Ugarte. What a ridiculous spectacle Chino Roces is making of himself.”
“Journalists must remind people of what they prefer to forget” , columnist Simeon Dumdum wrote in “Speak Memory.” Battling amnesia, in the end, is “the struggle of man against tyranny.”