Revise history so brazenly and you might succeed

Marlen V. Ronquillo

Marlen V. Ronquillo

I have this feeling that the Official Gazette writer who wrote the revisionist record of Mr. Marcos had seen Donald Trump in action. Mr. Trump either lies or shades the truth everyday in his campaign for the US presidency. On his worst day, he is uber contemptuous of facts and science. Truth is inconvenient to Mr. Trump as are some of the most basic verities of governance and politics. And global developments.

Despite all these flaws, which in a normal election cycle will ensure humiliating defeat, Mr. Trump is in a real position to win the November election and become the leader of the world’s most powerful country. He leads in some polls and is competitive in some of the swing states that usually determine the outcome of US presidential elections.

Trump’s secret sauce is sustained and unapologetic statement, reiteration of fact-free pronouncements, and never veering from that course. So sustained is his obliviousness to facts and recorded history that most of his followers now believe he is telling the truth, nothing but the truth. Fact checkers have never encountered a presidential candidate whose statements are mostly under the pants-on-fire category. But Mr. Trump seems to thrive on and find support from his disdain for facts and history.

What candidate other than Trump would rewrite a fact as basic as the US unemployment rate?

The controversial Official Gazette post on Mr. Marcos follows the Trump methodology -– lie brazenly, with total disregard for the truth. And you might get away with it.

In 1972, the post said, “Mr. Marcos declared martial law to suppress a communist insurgency and secessionism in Mindanao.”

“In 1986, he stepped down from the presidency to avoid bloodshed during the uprising that came to be known as ‘people power.’”

On these two most significant Gazette postings, only the dates, we are fond of saying, are for real. Mr. Marcos declared martial law because that was the only way to obtain a flimsy legal cover to be president for life. It was a farcical legal cover, but it was the only way to remain in power after a term-limited presidency of eight years.

Why stop eight years of piling of wealth, of creating those shell corporations to cover the true ownership of properties spread throughout the vast corners of the globe? Why risk getting investigated by a new president, who would surely come from a camp hostile to Mr. Marcos? After EDSA 1986, Jovy Salonga and his PCGG were able to track down an overseas account owned by Mr. Marcos as early as 1965, the first year of his presidency. So early in his term he was so overwhelmed by the urge to pile up overseas wealth.

Mr. Marcos declared martial law to hold on to power, enrich himself and his immediate circle. Period.

Mr. Marcos did not step down voluntarily. He was told by his American patrons to “cut and cut clean,” and that triggered his hasty flight to Hawaii. Besides, the mob outside of the Palace gates was ready to lynch him. What choice did he have then?

For lesser transgressions, Mr. Estrada was forced to abandon the presidency and take a tugboat ride out of the Palace to escape the angry mob.

I have nothing against the Marcoses, despite the brutal whiplash of martial rule on the young of my generation and on me. I am now Marcos-agnostic. But facts are facts and records are records. The PCGG literature alone on the Marcos wealth provides roomful of evidence on why Mr. Marcos wanted power for life. It was not “to save the country from communism,“ which was the pretext of Mr. Marcos.

On the other hand, historical revisionism is a natural move on the part of the Marcos family, and the family is pouncing because of a thesis that the time is right — the administration is friendly to the Marcoses, and the social context is favorable for a rewrite. I will start explaining the third factor.

The young who dominate social media — those who post opinions, those who react to what is being posted, those who share sentiments and feelings online with abandon — have no institutional history of martial rule. Their education on the Marcos rule started with the decision of Mr. Duterte to allow the burial of Mr. Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, and that’s good. But they are starting with a blank slate, and the education process is very slow. So the Marcoses think there is still time to rewrite history and deodorize the Marcos regime.

The Marcos family remains a political powerhouse and Marcos Junior wants to be the country’s next president. The family is buoyed by the good showing of the young Marcos in the May vice presidential race and feel that, in due time, a fully rehabilitated Marcos image will be Junior’s jumping board to the presidency, which is plausible.

The revisionism will be the key to the deodorization of the Marcos regime’s image.

Some are wondering why the Gazette did a total makeover, which essentially portrayed the Marcos regime in very positive terms. Here, I am reminded of Goebbels. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”


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  1. those who took up arms but lost their lives are casualties of war while those lived to tell their experiences during their incarceration were prisoners of war. The rest were just collateral damage. Those who sacrifices their lives or those who continued their parliamentary struggle were all combatants. You lose the war and you want to be called heroes or human rights victims?

    The communists euphemistically calling themselves as national democrats were out to supplant our democratic way of life with the dictatorship of the proletariat. The Sisonite-Benigno Cabal took advantage of the patriotism and idealism of the youth in their megalomanic pursuit of political power, which political power comes ftom the barrel of the gun – as per MTT Thought. That my friends was what happened before and the columnist can never deny that.

  2. George F Guillermo on

    In my mind and experience, President Marcos was a great president, a Visionary who thinks 50-100 years ahead.

    He initiated the Masagana 99 Rice Production Program wherein Philippines exported Rice to other countries due to good planning and proper implementation. Massive electrification and irrigation programs were implemented thru the construction of Hydro electric Dams: the Magat River Hydroelectric Dam that irrigated more than 300,000 hectares in Region 2 and the electricity needs of the Region. The Pantabangan Hydro Electric Power Dam, the Leyte Geothermal Power Project in Region 8 that now supplies the electricity needs of Region 8, Region 7, and some provinces of Mindanao. All Hydro Electric Power Plants in Mindanao and all Geothermal Power Plants in the Bicol Region There were many other socio-economic development and infrastructures program: Kidney Center, Heart Center, Cultural Center, Lung Center, Leyte-Samar San Juanico Bridge, The Manila-Visayas-Mindanao Maharlika Route Highway with Ist Class Ports Ferry Terminals (Matnog, Sorsogon; San Isidro, Northern Samar, Liloan, Southern Leyte; & Lipata, Surigao) among other things were done even more than all the combined accomplishments of all the Presidents after Marcos Presidency.
    In the area of policy and law making: Agrarian Reform, Fisheries Code, Forestry Code, Commission of Human Rights PD 2036), Sandigan Bayan (PD 1486) among other laws were decreed by President Marcos.
    There were 2,035 Presidential Decrees issued by Pres. Marcos. These PDs were very important, useful and helped guided, charted and developed the present legal foundation and basic laws required for the country. Multi billion of pesos were saved out of the expenses of Congress as the law making body.

    As a Dictator, all his actions were legal and authorized by the Phil Constitution. All the Presidential Decrees and Letter of Instructions, etc Pres Marcos issued were part of the law of the land. Thus, the Phil Constitution allows a Dictator, to lead and rule the country. His fight or battle against the Communist Party of the Phil (CPP) as Commander in Chief of the AFP & as President of the Phil. which include arresting and putting to jail all Cadres, NPAs, student leaders, labor/Union leaders who became members and supporters of the CPP is authorized by the Constitution to protect and defend the country from Communist take-over. (Please see the several write-ups and/or articles written by Ambassador Tiglao & Atty Bono Adaza).

    In terms of governance, President Marcos initiated the establishment of Provincial Government Centers and Regional Government Centers in one (1) place for each province and for each region to have a “one stop shop” transactions of government offices/agencies.The NEDA (National Econ.Devpt. Authorit)y was established by PD 107 in 1972. The NEDA is the policy making and planning body of the country.
    Presidential Decrees (laws) were issued to serve as the legal framework for the most efficient and effective implementation of any socio-cultural, economic and political development programs during President Marcos administration.

    Except of alleged human rights violations during martial law and alleged corruption, President Marcos was the greatest president ever produced by the country.

  3. If I’m not mistaken, I remember during that time Ninoy Aquino was sentenced to death thru firing squad. Then after several months Pres. FM granted the Aquino family to go USA for medical treatment purposes. But after that he stay several months and attended some public forum and delivered speeches against Pres. FM. Similarly the present Supreme Court granted PGMA to go abroad for medical treatment too. But DOJ Secretaary ( Lie la Dilema) defiantly not allowed and PGMA was held in departure area in NAIA as wanted by BSC-Aquino 3rd.

    Yes, during Pres. FM periods some politician and oligarchs was detained during that time because some of them are inclined, financial and political supporters and sponsors. While BSC-Aquino 3rd as he had have announced during his election campaign, that SC CJ Corona, Ombudsman Gutierrez will be removed and PGMA will be in jail until his last term period. And he did it thru bribing the senators and representatives using the money thru illegal DAP & PDAP funds. Unfortunately the 3 opposition senators who could be potential opposition candidates after his term was jailed rapidly.

    So therefore….who was the real human rights violators? And who was violating the Bill of Rights?

  4. Mariano Patalinjug on

    Yonkers, New York
    17 September 2016

    How I wish that the present generation of Filipinos could read this seminal column,, “Revise history so brazenly and you might succeed,” by Marlen V. Ronquillo,” so that they get a good and accurate idea of who former President Ferdinand E. Marcos was–the world’s No. 1 Kleptocrat among the leaders of his time!–and who turned Tyrant in order to hide his crimes against the people.

    Unfortunately, Marcos’s family–wife Imelda is now a Representative, elder daughter Imee is the Governor of Ilocos Norte, and son Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos [who ran and lost the last vice-presidential election] is all set to run for President in 2022.

    The country is already entering a “Dark Age” under Little Tyrant Der Fuhrer Rodrigo Duterte who is now engaged in a demonic lawless warrantless extrajudicial killing of those who are suspected of being involved one way or the other in the illegal drug problem, a brutal genocidal drive which is reported to have netted a total of 3,000 victims so far. His goal is a high 100,000 which will include corrupt politicians and journalists.

    Nobody can know how the Philippines will be after six years of Duterte’s tyrannical rule. It may or may not survive his criminal depredations. But if Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. runs for President in 2022, and wins [which is not improbable given the obvious “innocence” of Filipino voters] one can predict that the country will very likely “go to the dogs!”


  5. The political narrative in this country is structured in a way that Marcos is either a hero or history’s biggest scoundrel ever, but the structure is such that Marcos is the villain ONLY IF Ninoy Aquino was a hero. Ninoy was convicted of rebellion for his involvement with the NPA- a conviction that still stands today in spite of 12 years as president of Cory and Boy Sayad who did nothing to prove that these charges were fabrications obviously because the proof that they were fabrications did not exist- and the NPA themselves have already admitted that it was them who bombed Plaza Miranda although this crime of the century was blamed on Marcos by Ninoy who was inexplicably the only candidate who was not there when the grenades exploded. Connect the dots and see if you can state with all honesty that Ninoy was a genuine hero. I know where you are coming from because its really impossible to swallow ones own bullshit, and what is the color of all bullshit? Yellow.

  6. Vincent de belen on

    Much that I wanted to agree on the revisionist claim of the author , I cannot but look back and comparing the times now , we had better times then. At the time of its declaration there is sweeping communism across Asia . Martial law cannot be declared by a single men it must have the concurrence of Congress. Please spare us your emotion when dealing with history present it as a whole , the web is full of such information

  7. The youth of today we call Millennials will be the ones writing or rewriting our history in the future. Now, if some Millennials were to read this article of yours today and compared it with those of your colleagues here at Manila Times like Rigoberto Tiglao, Kit Tatad, or Homobono Adaza on the same issue, do you honestly think your thoughts as elucidated in this article will gain more favor with these Millennials?

  8. Mr. Ronquillo, it seems that you are drinking too much of Cool Aid the Liberal press writes. If you think by a minute that the US economy is doing great you are mistakenly wrong. The US has 92 million unemployed, let it sink in for a while…………. that’s a lot of gringos that don’t have any jobs. Including me you faithful kababayan.
    So if Donald Trump is saying that there are many people that are unemployed it means his telling the truth, not like Hillary she says everything is nice and dandy, but its not. I hope this clarify you drinking too much of the Cool Aid.

  9. the Author,
    A fine piece o commentary, I agree with your writings being an observer from another country, I remember those years and the atrocities committed, This was a time when American ideology was used as a tool of colonialism. Their propaganda machine declared that the domino effect of communism was eminent, Marcos, realizing the bounty of licking the American corporations boots, eagerly became their lap dog. A time honoured policy carried out with devastating efficiency until now. Not only did this act of piracy affect the Philippines but also corrupted the lives and future of places like Indonesia, where thousands of Islands with their own culture and independence was integrated into a made up country. Under the jackboot of the Javanese that tried and is still trying to impose their will on the rest of the archipelago’s islands This was a human tragedy forged for the convenience and benefit of control of business interests that has plagued the region since the British East India Company. We are now paying the price for those colonial atrocities and greedy policies, just like Duturte has alluded too. Imagine trying to trade in good faith with the people you had tried to bomb off the face of the planet only 50 yrs ago. The people of Veitnam haven’t forgotten but their graciousness shines thru.

  10. The revisionists in your midst should also take heed, Mr. Ronquillo. Thank you for telling what needs to be told.

  11. Common Marlen, I saw it in TV when President Marcos told Ver not to attack the people in EDSA! I know you saw it too! To be fair,write about it as well.

    Write about how the West manipulates politics in the Philippines since time immemorial until now to protect their nation’s interest. The main reason why rebellion and/or communist leaning groups arises in the 60s and 70s. They wanted the West OUT and communism to be installed as a form of Philippine government.

    Otherwise, you may just be spreading more confusion to the young Filipino generation by this article you have written. BE REALLY FAIR.

    • What you saw on TV on Ver and Marcos are Simply Zarzuelas. Before this Script-Marcos already told his Generals to bomb the rebel position. Their tanks were already in position. Their problem is-there were nuns and other non combatants. They Simply cannot obey Marcos. They actually recounted this story

  12. If that was true so, why Mr. Marcos wasn’t allowed to return home and been tried to court of justice, with evidences he could have landed in jail easily!!

  13. This is not the first time that an attempt to reinterpret and massage facts surrounding the late ‘Marcos’ reign’ of greed and terror, is being made. Glimmers of this sustained effort at ‘historical revisionism’ was observed as the younger Marcos was launching his candidacy for the Vice-Presidency last year…perhaps, even earlier on. The dishonesty of family members and close relatives…beneficiaries, all… of the ‘windfall’ from the late strongman might be understandable, since they have a totally different view point; but, the acquiescence, condonement and encouragement of these attempts by witnesses of that regime…especially by those in government now…are unconscionable. History, after all is not just a story, told and retold over the years and generations, by only those who were adversely affected. It is a recording of events of a period…free of interpretation and embellishment…that have affected and shaped the lives of an entire population, right then, and over the succeeding generations.

    Communications Secretary Martin Andanar and his flunky Mr. Cualoping III, must have been emboldened to attempt this deception owing to the President’s acquiescence to the Marcos family’s desire to bury the ‘strongman’s’ remains at the ‘Libingan Ng Mga Bayani’. My view is…if such were the commitment of the President to the “Family”, why not go ahead and just do it. The sentiments and views of the martial law victims and other oppositors are of little consequence to those in government now. Just don’t mess-up history; and, don’t desecrate the ‘Official Gazette’. Not even a President is authorized to do that.

    • “Just don’t mess-up history…”

      Sounds more like, history is as we say it is, anything contrary to what we say is just REVISIONISM!!! Now, I don’t know if that kind of reasoning holds any compelling appeal to the Millennials.