Vatican-speak is tough to decipher. Even those trained in fathoming the goings-on at Kremlin during the heyday of the USSR will have a tough time cracking the codes of the ways and the by-ways in the Holy See. It is the Fort Knox of secrecy.
The new Pope, Pope Francis, is a welcome break from those who shut off Vatican and severed its links to the outside world. Vatican-watchers, under that long reign of secrecy, were reduced to bungling Kremlinologists, feeding off on morsels of intrigue and body language. He is a pope of candidness and candor, subverting, at times, the stuffy, ultra-traditionalist ways of Vatican. He knows that the aloofness of the previous popes, the rigid adherence to inapplicable doctrines, had strained the relationship of the Church with its flock. And he goes about in changing that image of cocooned Church.
What can be a more welcome dateline for a news story that this one: Aboard the Papal Plane.
Yet, his recent statement about “We don’t have the right not to forget,” has so many meanings that we don’t how it would apply in real-life, real-world situations.
Because one interpretation is this: Senator Marcos Jr., can perfectly run for president without the baggage of the past. People should forget about the Marcos rule and let the son run for president if he wishes to. Pope Francis seemed to say this : The past is past and let the son be unencumbered by the sins of the father.
There is a general, universal admiration for the new pope . Catholics, amazed by his freshness and candor, have forgotten how he sort of waltzed with the dictators and tyrants of Latin America’s tragic past. At this stage of his inspiring papacy, we really have forgotten that blot on his priestly life .
But we have a question. Does forgetting means giving a fresh slate to everybody, unequivocally and without any question? Does that mean blanket forgiveness?
Does it mean that Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., can file his candidacy for president and appeal to us for votes without us being reminded of the personal and national hurt that we suffered under his father’s presidency?
Or, were the words of Pope Francis on forgiveness limited in application? We really have to be guided accordingly.
Senator Marcos, even if were vacillating a bit on his presidential plans, knows one thing. The ideal time to run for president is 2016. It can’t be six years after 2016. The people pushing his presidential bid are not really young politicians and technocrats who are younger than him. They are remnants of his father’s regime—the young lieutenants of his father’s presidency who are 65 and beyond. They are still around for one last taste of political glory—but not that long. They can’t be around forever.
The sentiment of the Solid North, where a nostalgia for the Marcos regime still throbs, may not be that intense by 2022. The young today that would mature and vote in 2022 maybe not as in awe of the Marcos name as the current generation of the Northern electorate.
By 2022, should he make his run in that election cycle, he would be an old candidate compared with possible candidates Grace Poe or Bam Aquino. And Mr. Marcos knows fully well how cruel voters are toward candidates of a certain age.
It has to be 2016.
The central question that is asked by the most ardent Marcos supporters, what they perceive as the heaviest drag to a presidential run in 2016, is this: Can we airbrush history and create an environment of forgetfulness? The chilling images of the 2013 campaign, which saw the loss of an early survey frontrunner, Jack Enrile, because of already ancient stories that linked him to killings, are enough to give the Marcos boosters a pause. And a real scare.
What if the political enemies of Mr. Marcos post photos of the martial law martyrs?
The Tagamolila brothers, Edgar Jopson and a host of iconic names that are inscribed at the Bantayog ng Mga Bayani? Photos speak a thousand words and work up a thousand emotions. Plus Ninoy Aquino’s bloodied boy on the airport tarmac, and the limp, mangled bodies of the other martyrs.
People can forget about the overseas wealth, the layering of overseas property, the billions of pesos worth of assets parked in the tax havens. But a photo gallery of martyrs is something that would still shock the voters born after the declaration of martial rule.
The declaration of Pope Francis, that “We don’t have the right not to forget,” was stated on a very opportune time for the boosters of Mr. Marcos’s presidential run. An electoral manna from the least likely source. Of course, forgiving those who seek forgiveness is a bedrock teaching of the Church, and Pope Francis just phrased it aptly, perhaps to temper the rage of those in the troubled parts of the world such as Egypt, where Egyptians are killing Egyptians .
Maybe Pope Francis was just telling the troubled and violent parts of the world to shake off the old grudges, no matter how deep, so societies can start afresh.
Still, Mr. Marcos and his camp can use it to unencumber his presidential run of the baggage of history. And run on the undying Christian themes of forgiveness and redemption.