FM: The Great Leader


This is neither a sequel nor a critique to Atty. Manuel M. Lazaro’s article entitled: FM: The Great Ilocano (which appeared in another newspaper on Sept. 10 & 11.) This article is but a humble view from an obscure citizen who writes with an obvious ordinariness, absent the elegant prose flowing from the erudite mind of Atty. Lazaro. As the saying goes, one does not hitch a decrepit wagon to a radiant star.

To be sure, this writer is also without any intention whatsoever to sway minds whose intellect would concededly be sharper than his, on the subject of the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ greatness. This is but a simple exercise of the freedom of speech and of the press, a blessing which we, as a nation, continue to enjoy in our democratic society.

Atty. Lazaro’s informative article abounds with incontrovertible facts and self-evident truth, which transpired during a critical period in the history of our country. The dissenter cannot just sweep these aside as ashes under the rug; neither can the misinformed or unenlightened disregard the same with reckless abandon and consign them into the dustbin of history.

The popular belief is that when President Marcos declared Martial Law in 1972, he became a dictator. It is rather a simplistic interpretation of history. It is here emphasized that the Martial Law declaration was declared as constitutional by the Supreme Court of the Philippines in two (2) landmark decisions: 1) In Javellana vs. Executive Secretary, L-36142, March 31, 1973, the Supreme Court ruled that the exercise of the power to declare Martial Law resides in the executive branch of government to preserve order and insure the public safety in times of emergency xxx and, 2) In Aquino vs. Enrile, L-35546 Sept. 17, 1974, 59 SCRA 255, 305, 545, The Supreme Court party enunciated:

“Martial law is essentially a rule of force, a pure military measure and, in the final analysis, is merely the will of the officer commanding the military forces. As the offspring of the necessity, it transcends and displaces the ordinary laws of the land, xxx and is exercisable alike with friends and enemies, citizens and aliens. “xxx

Long before we had our brilliant minds in our own Supreme Court, Thomas Jefferson, who drafted the US Declaration of Independence in 1776, wrote in 1807 when he was already US President, as follows:

“On great occasions, every good officer must be ready to risk himself in going through beyond the strict line of the law, when the public preservation requires it; his motives will be a justification.”

When he was no longer President, he wrote in 1810.”

“A strict observance of the written laws is doubtless one of the high obligations of a good citizen, but it is not the highest. The laws of necessity of self-preservation, of saving our country when in danger, are of a higher obligation. Scrupulous adherence to written law would be to lose the law itself with, the life, liberty and property and those enjoying them with us; thus absurdly sacrificing the end to the means.” (Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., The Imperial Presidency, Copyright 1973, pp. 24-25).

Many do not know Ferdinand Marcos. They have only one word to describe him: “dictator.” Life can be unfair. Was Marcos adequately prepared for the ultimate leadership of our nation? Why did the Filipino people bestow upon this man the highest gift that it could give to a Filipino? Marcos was a soldier, a distinguished member of both houses of congress, a topnotcher (1st place) in the 1939 bar exams.

Earlier, he was convicted by a lower court of a criminal offense. He was acquitted by the Supreme Court of the Philippines, with the Hon. Jose P. Laurel, Sr. then Presiding as Chief Justice.

He went to the battlefields to defend his native land against the Japanese invaders. After the war (reminiscent of Kennedy and Nixon) he entered politics. Because he was a brilliant lawyer, an eloquent orator, with an engaging personality, he was an immediate success in the political arena. He was Senate President when he ran for and won the presidency of the Philippines in the election of 1965.

It is a universal rule that the presidency, whether here or elsewhere, has its own friends, its own enemies. Pulitzer-prize winning author Arthur M. Schelesinger, Jr. wrote in his Editor’s Note to the American Presidents Series:

“Biographies of presidents, in general, constitute a chronicle of wisdom and folly, nobility and pettiness, courage and cunning, forthrightness and deceit, quarrel and consensus.”

Many hate Marcos blindly, simply convinced by the wrong perceptions and persuasions of many others. It is time to be true to history, a time to heal. It is the inexorable experience of mankind that time truly heals. One can forgive, but not necessarily forget. The judgment of history will then be kinder, pragmatic.

An ancient French maxim cautions the legislator to “think of the rising generation rather than what which is passed.”

It is not amid the prejudices and jealousies of the present, but the enlightened judgment of the far-off future that one must look for his reward. Contemporary history is always hasty and unjust in its conclusions’, but the “sober second thought” of posterity is ever prompt in the repair of the wrong. (Life of Andrew Jackson, J.S. Jenkins, Ed. 2011, p. 12).

Was FM a great leader? In the United States, the greatest Presidents in the scholar’s rankings were Washington, Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. Their greatness came about because they made the correct decisions when confronting the greatest crisis during their time. Woodrow Wilson said: “I do not believe that any man can lead who does not act… under the impulse of a profound sympathy with those whom he leads, a sympathy which is insight, an insight which is of the heart rather than the intellect.”

Atty. Lazaro described FM as a great Ilocano. All told, he was a great Filipino.

Very truly yours,

Ramon A. Pacis as a lawyer who served as assistant director at the Legal Office, Central Bank of the Philippines up to June 30, 1994. On July 15 of that year, he joined the Presidential Commission Against Graft and Corruption, Office of the President (then Fidel V. Ramos). He was Director IV, in-charge the Investigation Division of the Commission.

On Dec. 15, 1996, he was appointed RTC Judge of Laoag City and Ilocos Norte, and served as executive judge there before he was transferred to RTC Pasig City in 2005. He retired from the judiciary in 2007.

He was a class valedictorian (1954) at St. Louis High School, Solano, Nueva Vizcaya. He finished BBA in Economics at the University of the East, Bachelor of Laws, MLQ University, and obtained an MBA degree from Ateneo de Manila University.


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