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.”