Probably he had his ulterior, Machiavellian reasons. Still, though, the strongman Ferdinand Marcos saved the life of his archenemy, Ninoy, then 48 years old in 1980. He released him from prison (having been convicted by a military court to be executed by firing squad for multiple murder charges) and allowed him to go to the US for a crucial heart surgery.
After that, Aquino would get a fellowship at Harvard University, and live with Cory at the upper-class suburbia of Newton, Massachusetts in an elegant two-storied brick house. “That was the happiest days of our lives,” his widow Cory would later say.
In cruel contrast, Ninoy’s son, Benigno 3rd, has kept his predecessor, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who at 68 has a life-threatening illness, incarcerated for three years now in a military hospital for baseless charges, which the United Nations Working Committee on Arbitrary Detention has condemned as violating the grandmother’s legal and human rights. Due to the utter disregard for her rights and the rule of law, the UN group even recommended that Arroyo file for compensation for her arbitrary detention.
Indeed, after three years, neither a witness nor a single document has been presented in court to support the government’s allegations that Arroyo stole from the confidential funds of the sweepstakes office. In the other case filed against Arroyo, that of electoral sabotage – allegedly in the 2007 senatorial and local elections and not in the 2004 presidential elections – no other witness has been presented to corroborate the sole testimony of one Norie Unas.
And who is this guy? He is the city administrator and, for decades, the right-hand man of Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan, Sr., the accused, with his son, as being the brains of the massacre of 58 people in that province in 2009. Unas would have been among the dozens accused for the killings, if not for his false testimony against Arroyo.
If only for this vindictive, petty president’s disregard for the rule of law, his lack of the most basic sense of justice, and his moral depravity in persecuting Arroyo, we should reject in 2016 his party and its candidate Manuel Roxas 2nd.
This candidate’s lack of any moral sense is demonstrated in the fact that despite his decades of friendship with the former President, despite her total support for him in her Cabinet, and even as he knows in his heart that Arroyo is innocent of the charges, Roxas has not lifted a finger to convince Aquino not to persecute her. Why? Because he can’t afford to lose Aquino’s support for his all-consuming bid to be President.
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Ninoy’s son, Aquino 3rd, assaulted the independent branch of government that is the bastion of a republican democracy’s rule of law: the Supreme Court. He launched an impeachment lynch mob to remove its Chief Justice, Renato Corona, from office. Why? In order to get the Court to agree to a billion pesos more in compensation for his clan’s Hacienda Luisita, even if the Tribunal under Corona had ruled that its land reform program during Cory’s Administration was bogus.
Marcos’ son, Ferdinand (“Bongbong”) Jr., defended the Supreme Court, and voted to acquit Corona. He was one of only three senators (the other two being the late Joker Arroyo and Miriam Defensor-Santiago) who refused to be bribed, who refused to buckle under the lynch mob that included even award-winning journalists.
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Ninoy’s son, Aquino 3rd, tried to force down the throat of this republic, most probably with the help of Malaysian money, a law that would have dismembered it and created a Bangsamoro nation-state, complete with its clearly defined people, its territory, and its armed forces – the three basic elements, as any college student would learn in college, of that entity we call a “nation-state.”
Marcos’ son, Ferdinand, blocked that conspiracy, and exposed this Bangsamoro Basic Law’s violations of the Constitution. The Senate hearings he led convinced even those supporting it to junk it or at least, drastically amend it so it would conform to our Constitution, and block the Moro Islamic Liberation Front from using it to carve out the group’s own independent nation.
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Marcos expanded Philippine territory by issuing Presidential Decree No. 1596 in 1978, which declared that a group of islands called then as the Spratlys, is Philippine territory, a municipality of Palawan whose official name would be the Kalayaan Group of Islands. He ordered garrisons stationed on the islands, especially on the biggest isle Pag-Asa, where he ordered an airstrip built.
Aquino 3rd lost Philippine territory when he foolishly ordered Philippine ships in May 2012 to leave Scarborough Shoal, believing the report of his special envoy, Sen. Antonio Trillanes 4th or his foreign secretary, Albert del Rosario, (the two would later blame each other) that the Chinese had agreed to the simultaneous withdrawal of ships. They didn’t, and probably just laughed at this President’s gullibility. Now, their vessels simply shoo away our vessels and fishermen still kilometers away from the shoal’s mouth.
Aquino has done nothing to stop the erosion and start the repair of the airstrip Marcos had built, so that eventually its usable length could only allow the smallest of planes to land on the area.
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Marcos convinced the Philippine ruling class to lend the government their support by successfully leading the local economy through the 1970s oil crisis largely unscathed, which gave it enough momentum to grow a phenomenal 9 percent by 1973. That drove GDP growth to average an impressive 6.2 percent from 1972 to the 1979 apex of his regime.
Aquino 3rd has won the support of a big segment of the ruling class, not because of his anti-corruption crusade, nor any economic reform he has engineered. It is because he has done nothing to derail the growth momentum Arroyo achieved during her term and the trust of the global community she earned for the country when she steered the economy through the worst global economic crisis that raged from 2008 to 2009.
The Philippines under Arroyo was the only country in Asia that still managed some growth in those tumultuous years. Under Aquino, the country’s relatively high growth rates have been due to the fact that his is the only Administration in this country that had the fortune of not having to go through any global economic catastrophe.
That high growth rate from 1972 to 1979 – was achieved at the cost of the dismantling of our institutions of democracy, which we still haven’t been able to rebuild.
Similarly, growth in our economy over the past five years has been at the cost of a megalomaniac President damaging our democratic institutions.
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Marcos closed down The Manila Times and the Lopez-owned Manila Chronicle and the ABS-CBN television network. His cronies then set up The Daily Express, The Times Journal, and The Manila Bulletin – to support him and his martial law.
Similarly, Aquino 3rd now uses the newspapers that replaced the Marcos newspapers and the ABS-CBN Network, which his mother helped to resuscitate to support his regime. One leading broadsheet very loyally has taken up every single political campaign Aquino has launched as its own crusade – from removing then Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez, impeaching Chief Justice Corona, jailing opposition figures for the misuse of their pork barrel funds, and even fabricating corruption charges against Vice President Jejomar Binay to weaken his candidacy in the 2016 presidential elections.
Marcos closed down media; Aquino controls the minds of media, which do not even realize it.
This is one of the biggest reasons why there is no public outrage over Aquino’s turpitudes such as his ruthless incarceration of Arroyo; the corruption at the MRT-3 that has made a hell out of millions of Filipinos’ daily commute; the massive smuggling that even our poor farmers are being outpriced by imported agricultural products; the massacre of 44 of our elite troops in Mamasapano because of this President’s criminal bungling; his government’s incompetence in relief operations for victims of the Yolanda Super Typhoon and the amazing dearth of news reports on jueteng, the billions of pesos it generates to line the pockets of government officials, and criminals’ rampage across the land that sows fear and uncertainty among members of all strata of society in this country.
Previous columns at www.rigobertotiglao.com