PUBLIC Attorneys Office Chief Persida Acosta became the object of criticism during her interview with the Judicial and Bar Council when she was asked about the Marcos burial, and for which she was woefully unprepared. But lost in the publicized dressing-down that she got was the eyebrow-raising demeanor of her tormentor, Retired Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez herself. The retired justice did not hide her strong position against the Marcos burial and her agreement with the view of Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio in his dissenting opinion on the case,where he argued that Marcos was in fact dishonorably discharged from military service.
Marcos loyalists have always been accused of historical revisionism.
But it looks like Justices Carpio and Sandoval-Gutierrezarealso guilty of blatantly revising history by interpreting the ouster of Marcos in 1986 as akin to a dishonorable discharge.
Their argument stands on shaky ground. They argue that Marcos is part of the military as President, in being its Commander in Chief, and hence his ouster was a form of dishonorable discharge. This opinion reeks of judicial activism, and reveals a kind of logic that can only lead to ridiculous implications.
Any dictionary definition of dishonorable discharge refers to it as being handed down by the military after a conviction in a general court-martial. It requires that the military is the one that makes the decision after due process, and not any other court, or more so, the people.
We cannot consider the first EDSA as akin to due process contemplated in a military court-martial. Furthermore, to argue that the President, as Commander in Chief, is part of the military can only but beg the question that he can also be court-martialed, which he cannot.
Justice Sandoval-Gutierrez was also emphatic in saying that the people dishonorably discharged President Marcos. This is another problematic claim, for it would make us believe that those who participated in the first EDSA constituted the totality of the Filipino “people.” Sandoval-Gutierrez even insisted that it is not a political question, but a well-established fact, in the same manner that she made a sweeping legal edict that Marcos is guilty of committing crimes involving moral turpitude, even if records show that there is no court that finally convicted Marcos of such kinds of crimes.
Furthermore, to imply that EDSA is a form of military discharge would mean forcing history to judge it as a purely military rebellion. This view is patently revisionist on its face, as it will divest the“people power revolution” of its “people.”
But the elites do not see it that way. Views like those of Justices Carpio and Sandoval-Gutierrez are not seen as revisionist. It is only those attempts to set the record straight that would benefit the Marcoses, even as they would serve truth, that are condemned as revisionist.
History has now been monopolized and its writing hijacked by a discourse dominated by hatred towards the Marcoses.
The Marcos critics have elevated a kind of history where Marcos and the Marcos era are pure evil. The state at the time, and all its organs, were seen as mechanically acting at the behest of the dictator. There is a palpable attempt to deny the narratives of this problematic period in our nation’s history the complexity that it truly possessed. Only the narratives of the victims are considered as legitimate stories. There is no attempt to inquire into the human agencies involved in their victimization. Instead, what is deployed is the convenient and bureaucratic principle of command responsibility. Marcos is being judged as the architect, and thus the blood of every desaparecido is on his hands. This is a convenient narrative inremembering the pain, but not useful inmaking an accurate historical accounting of culpability.
It is this narrative that condemns Marcos even as Fidel Ramos, who in fact had a more direct hand in enforcing the rule of terror, not only escapes culpability, but even has the audacity to demand that the Marcoses should apologize to the people for the crimes in which hehimself had an active part.
History, as written by a dominantly anti-Marcos post-martial law academia, effectively denied martial law the nuances that one has to apply in interpreting such a complex period. Marcos has been denied historicity, or in academic jargon, he has been reified. He has been confined to a black-and-white narrative that reduced the period into simply a battle between the evil Marcoses and the good Aquinos.
In this context, it is considered taboo to extricate the Marcos narrative from this reification for such would constitute historical revisionism.
History in this context was monopolized by the elites, even as the Aquino bloodline was elevated to the position of demi-gods, deified and almost worshipped. Like all those who took part in the victimization, they also escape objective scrutiny for their culpability in the complex history of oppression which the Filipinos experienced under the cacique class to which they belong.