PART I – Seven reasons Marcos should never be given a heroes burial
The country is so politically polarized nowadays that you can’t express anti-Marcos sentiments without being tagged as pro-Aquino (aka “yellowtard”) and vice versa. Is it not possible to see that both camps have their respective virtues and flaws? Cause you know, the world does not exist in black and white (or in this case, yellow and red)? After all, historical facts do not have political affiliation.
Two weeks ago, lots of social media users reacted violently when the Official Gazette of the Philippines used its social media platforms to not only remind the public of Marcos’ 99th birth anniversary but to also present a sanitized version of his twenty year dictatorial rule. Angry netizens used the hashtag #SuperficialGazette to mock what they perceive as the Duterte administration’s attempts to revise history.
Now, this blog post aims to focus on seven compelling reasons why Marcos should neither be buried anywhere near the Libingan ng mga Bayani nor given full military honors if and when his family decides it’s time for him to be buried. I picked the number seven because Marcos’ belief that it is his lucky number.
1) Marcos was not a decorated guerrilla soldier who fought during World War II
One of the most enduring myths propagated by Marcos’ propagandists is the supposed major role that he played during the anti-Japanese guerrilla movement during World War II. As the New York Times noted in 1986, that story has been central to Marcos’ political appeal from the beginning.
However, the fact is, that lie has been debunked for almost 70 years now. When Marcos and his cohorts sought recognition for the unit several years after the war, an investigation made by the United States Veterans’ Administration found the claim “distorted, exaggerated, fraudulent, contradictory, and absurd.” American historian Alfred McCoy was able to access the documents around at the US National Archives around 1984 to 1985.
Between 1945 and 1948 various Army officers rejected Mr. Marcos’s two requests for official recognition of the unit, calling his claims distorted, exaggerated, fraudulent, contradictory, and absurd. Army investigators finally concluded that Maharlika was a fictitious creation and that ”no such unit ever existed” as a guerrilla organization during the war.
In addition, the United States Veterans’ Administration, helped by the Philippine Army, found in 1950 that some people who had claimed membership in Maharlika – pronounced mah-HAHR-lick-kuh – had actually been committing ”atrocities” against Filipino civilians rather than fighting the Japanese and had engaged in what the V.A. called ”nefarious activity,” including selling contraband to the enemy. The records include no direct evidence linking Mr. Marcos to those activities.
2) Marcos was corrupt to the bones
Supporters of Marcos frequently cite the fact that his administration saw the rise of many infrastructure projects like the Cultural Center of the Philippines, the Philippine Heart Center, and mass transport systems (MRT and LRT). However, those projects weren’t constructed without a high price tag – and we’re not just talking about the actual cost of the project.
According to a study titled Global Corruption Report by the watchdog group Transparency International, Marcos is the second most corrupt leader in the 20th century, with an estimated loot of up to US $10 billion, most of which were stashed away in different banks in United States, Switzerland, and other European countries under fictitious names. For her part, his wife Imelda amassed mind-boggling collections of classical paintings, jewelries, and shoes – at the expense of Filipino taxpayers! Check out this site for an example.
3) A good economic manager? Nope
One of the talking points frequently used by Marcos supporters is that the Philippine economy actually boomed during the Martial Law years. That is not true. In an article titled “The Polical Economy of the Philippines Under Marcos“ which was published at the Standford University Journal of East Asian Affairs in 2003, international political scientist Dr. Kenji Kushida argued that Philippines has in fact “been left out of rapid growth occurring in the (Southeast Asian) region since the 1960s.”
Kushida’s paper argued that the lion’s share of the perceived economic growth during Marcos’ time actually went to him, his family, and his cronies – in large part by nationalizing many of the country’s vital industries. “Marcos channeled all major economic activity through himself, leading to the commonly cited wheel-and-spokes analogy, in which all business needed to first pass through him,” the scholar wrote.
(TFS: This is the first of a two-part post. The last four reasons can be read in this link.)