IT has been 30 long years since the EDA People Power Revolution toppled former President Ferdinand Marcos. Yet, the same political and economic problems being heaped on the Marcos regime–-graft and corruption, widespread poverty, political dynasties, and crony capitalism–-continue to hound our nation.
In the past three decades, we have ousted and jailed a former sitting president for corruption and jailed another on corruption charges. Since 1985, poverty rates in urban and rural households have hovered in the 20 percent to 30 percent range. And despite the passage of the so-called Cory Constitution, political dynasties still lord it over many of the country’s provinces, cities and municipalities due to the reluctance of Congress to pass the anti-dynasty bill mandated by the 1987 charter.
Meanwhile, crony capitalism rose to its highest level, ironically, during the term of Cory’s son, the previous President Benigno Aquino III.
Crony capitalism is a term used to describe an economy in which success in business depends on close relationships between businessmen and government officials, and the use of one’s power or connections to gain wealth without actually “making” wealth (i.e. rent-seeking).
According to the May 2016 Crony Capitalism Index of The Economist, the Philippines ranked third among 22 economies where the so-called “crony” sectors accounted for the bulk of economic output. This is two notches higher from just two years ago.
The index shows that our economy is heavily fueled by rent-heavy industries and the wealth of dollar billionaires are invested in rent-seeking sectors such as casinos; deposit-taking banking and investment banking; infrastructure and pipelines; real estate and construction; oil, gas, chemicals and other energy; metals, mining and commodities; and utilities and telecoms services.
Clearly, the EDSA revolution has long lost its meaning and luster. Instead of disrupting the status quo, many anti-Marcos activists joined the status quo. The elite families who were driven into exile, or who lost their economic power or business empires in the aftermath of the EDSA revolution, were merely replaced by a new ruling oligarchy. Three decades and three “revolutions” later, Filipinos have yet to see the promise of EDSA.
Perhaps this explains why the sins of the Marcos regime are no longer a cause célèbre, especially when bigger corruption scandals have tainted post-EDSA administrations.
That Bongbong Marcos narrowly lost the vice-presidency to Leni Robredo by just 263,473 votes, amid allegations of cheating by the Aquino administration, shows that many Filipinos no longer associate the Marcos regime with the misdeeds of martial law.
As Supreme Court Associate Justice Jose Perez said in his concurring opinion in the Marcos burial case, “the election result is a showing that, while there may have once been, there is no longer a national damnation of President Ferdinand E. Marcos; that the ‘constitutionalization’ of the sin and its personification is no longer of national acceptance. A Marcos vote came out of the elections, substantial enough to be a legitimate consideration in the executive policy formulation.”
Even President Rodrigo Duterte views Marcos’ martial law record as a non-issue, saying: “Look when Bongbong ran, there’s only a small difference in votes, around 200,000. And then you’ll say that it’s still fresh [in people’s minds]? He said he was cheated. Maybe if he wasn’t cheated, he may have really won.”
“Well, even then I said the number is a very minimal–if it’s indication to you that there is no more such thing as a Marcos trauma, just look at the results of the election,” Duterte added.
It’s time to bury the hatchet–-and former president Marcos-–and move on. As SC Associate Justice Arturo Brion wrote in his concurring opinion: “The burial order does not have the effect of rewriting jurisprudence and excusing the ills of the Marcos administration.”
Besides, burying ex-president Marcos in Manila, whether it be at the Libingan or elsewhere, is consistent with the memorandum of agreement (MOU) between the Marcos family and the Philippine government during the administration of President Fidel Ramos. Although the SC says this agreement is not binding on Duterte, it nevertheless proves that Marcos’ interment in Laoag was to be merely temporary and that his final resting place would be elsewhere.
This is manifest from the SC decision outlining the terms of the agreement in a footnote. Here are some excerpts from the MOU:
“On August 19, 1992, the Government of the Republic of the Philippines, represented by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Rafael M. Alunan Ill, and the family of the late President Marcos, represented by his widow, Mrs. Imelda R. Marcos, agreed on the following conditions and procedures by which the remains of the former President shall be brought back to and interred in the Philippines: x xx That the remains shall be buried [temporarily interred]on the 9th of September 1992 at the family burial grounds at Batac, Ilocos Norte, provided that any transfer of burial grounds shall be with prior clearance from the Philippine Government taking into account the prevailing socio-political climate.”
Contrary to news reports that the deal permanently barred ex-president Marcos’ burial in the Fort Bonifacio cemetery, the memorandum of understanding clearly showed that a burial in Manila, in general, or at the Libingan, in particular, was never taken off the table. Duterte’s approval of a Libingan burial for ex-president Marcos is simply the consummation of that agreement.
And now that the SC has ruled on the matter, let’s get the Marcos burial over and done with.