This is not about a sequel to the Star Wars movie series. But the idea about the title came up when this writer was pondering about the irony of the situation the Filipino people are now in: We are commemorating the 30th anniversary of EDSA People Power 1 and yet the son of the dictator who the people ousted in 1986 is now a candidate for vice president in the May 2016 elections. The fact that the candidacy of a Marcos for the second highest position in the land coincided with the 30th anniversary of the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship is already a mockery of the struggles, hardships and sufferings that the Filipino people went through for 21 years under the rule of Ferdinand E. Marcos, or 14 years under Martial Law.
The sad thing is, not only is Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos gunning for the vice presidency, he has, so far, been making a good run at it. If poll surveys are to be believed, Bongbong Marcos has been running neck-to-neck with Chiz Escudero, with the rest of the candidates – Leni Robredo, Allan Peter Cayetano, Gringo Honasan, and Antonio Trillanes IV – eating their dust.
To what could we attribute this bizarre turn of events?
A lot of people are saying that it is because the youth of today no longer experienced the horrors of Martial Law. There is truth in this. But still the question of how and why the Marcos family is now on the doorstep of making a full political comeback begs for answers.
Why did the administrations after Marcos – under the late Cory Aquino, Fidel V. Ramos, Joseph “Erap” Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III – not ensure an accurate account of what happened under the Marcos dictatorship in the history books that are being used by students?
Why was the Marcos family never brought to court for their crimes of plunder and massive human rights violations, most especially extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances? The only successful case against the Marcos family was not filed by the government but by the organization of victims of human rights violations under Martial Law, the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA). The case was filed by the victims before the Federal District Court of Hawaii when the Marcos family was still in exile there.
Why have the Marcos family been allowed to use the resources they stole from the nation’s coffers to make a political comeback and to launch a systematic campaign to twist the truth about the Marcos dictatorship? According to an Interaksyon.com report, the government is still trying to recover $1 billion from the Marcos family and their cronies. After 30 years, the government has still not been able to confiscate the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses? What has the government recovered so far and what happened to these assets?
The failure of the government to exact justice on the Marcos family for their crimes against the Filipino people and to educate the youth about these are partly to blame for the political comeback of the Marcos family.
But still, what makes Bongbong Marcos, and what the Marcos family represents – and to a certain extent the brand of politics being projected by Rodrigo Duterte – attractive to young voters is the failure of the governments after Marcos to address the fundamental issues of poverty and landlessness, deteriorating quality of life of majority of the people, corruption, impunity in human rights violations, attacks on the nation’s sovereignty, crimes, rule of political dynasties, and the absence of a just and lasting peace.
Add to this the remarkable ineptitude of the administration of Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III, and one who has never experienced and never was educated about the horrors of being under martial law would, understandably, be attracted to the idea of a purportedly decisive, efficient type of rule.
The Aquino family was propelled to power because the late Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. and Cory Aquino were projected as the symbols of the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship. The fact that a Marcos is able to project himself as an alternative now is an indictment of the “daang matuwid” being boasted by the Noynoy Aquino administration, and being used as banner for the Mar Roxas-Leni–Robredo campaign.
The Filipino people need not limit their choices between the “daang matuwid” of the Aquino government vs. the strongman rule being represented by Bongbong Marcos. There has to be a real alternative. One that would genuinely and effectively address the problems of poverty and landlessness, deteriorating quality of life of majority of the people, corruption, impunity in human rights violations, attacks on the nation’s sovereignty, crimes, rule of political dynasties, and the absence of a just and lasting peace. If not one from among the candidates for president and vice president could show that they would decisively address these fundamental issues, then it’s up for the Filipino people to make it happen.