The problem with Ateneo’s retort to Bongbong

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Marcos was mainly concerned with perpetuating his personal hold on power by favoring family members, friends, and other cronies. Thus, Marcos simply created new elites or “oligarchs” rather than abolish them — supposedly one of the main justifications for declaring martial law. Those who dared challenge the regime’s monopoly on power … were intimidated, imprisoned, kidnapped, tortured or summarily executed.— March 2 statement on the Marcos regime, signed by the presidents, faculty and staff of Ateneo universities in Manila, Naga, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga and Davao

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The statement signed by the presidents of Jesuit-run universities in the country, and more than 500 of their faculty and staff rightly takes issue with Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. over what they called “the shameless refusal to acknowledge the crimes of the martial law regime.”

Three decades after the Marcos regime fell, it is imperative to counter any downplaying of its excesses and enormities. Especially with most Filipinos today being too young to remember or know what the martial law generation lived through.

So why didn’t this writer, an Ateneo de Manila University adjunct lecturer in journalism and government, sign the ADMU statement?

Not because there was anything seriously wrong about the content, but other reasons.

Consider why Senator Marcos refuses to acknowledge martial law ills and atrocities. For one thing, as a dutiful son, he has to defend his dead father. Have you ever heard of any Filipino proclaiming publicly the errors or evils of his forebears? Or Asians, for that matter, given the region’s deep-seated tradition of ancestor reverence.

If Marcos is supposed to say his father is a repressive, corrupt autocrat with blood on his hands, then should President Benigno Aquino declare to all and sundry that his late mother instituted pork barrel, let relatives enjoy pecuniary gains as Kamag-anak Inc., and burdened the economy with day-long brownouts due to bad energy planning?

Indeed, Filipinos would think it unseemly for any leader to excoriate his parents just to look good. And of all people, Catholic educators should know that the faithful are under divine edict to “Honor thy father and thy mother,” with no caveat like “unless they jailed opponents and favored relatives.”

Let all shut up or own up, not just Marcos
Okay, if Marcos Jr. can’t denounce the senior, why not just keep quiet?

You mean he’s supposed to just grin and bear it while election rivals use his father’s much-maligned rule against him? Fine. Then all candidates should be told to quietly bear valid criticisms.

Vice-President Jejomar Binay should just shut up or own up when opponents accuse him and his family of billions of pesos in Makati anomalies. Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte should say nothing when accused of liquidating criminals.

Former Secretary Mar Roxas should just nod in silence when critics point out that crime incidents jumped from 324,083 in 2010 to more than a million every year, mostly under his watch as Interior and Local Government czar.

Plus: The anomalous Metro Rail Transit maintenance contract had to be dubiously negotiated rather than transparently bid out, because he ignored repeated memos urging speedy action on maintenance services.

And Senator Grace Poe should just bite her tongue when opponents raise questions about having a national leader who would share conjugal confidences with the citizen of a foreign power with centuries of meddling in the Philippines. Or a president whose mammoth funding and nationwide campaign network comes mainly from a billionaire notorious for cronyism since the Marcos era.

Lastly, Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago should just admit that her cancer has an ample chance of recurring within five years of its remission in 2014, instead of going on and on about the Constitution not barring anyone from the presidency for health reasons.

If the Ateneos issue a statement demanding such truthfulness from all candidates, with explicit mention of concerns and criticisms often denied by presidentiables, this writer would be the first to sign — even if seasoned political watchers and perhaps half the country snicker at the naiveté.

But not if one candidate is singled out. That undermines the universities’ paramount function as centers for the impartial study and dissemination of truthful knowledge.

Be wary of partisan campus cliques
Now, there is nothing wrong with individual professors holding partisan views. But when signatures are solicited for a statement never debated or investigated, as academic rigor requires (or asked for Senator Marcos’ comment, as objective media would have), one has to ask if other views have been stifled.

That may have happened to this writer in 2006. As the Cabinet Secretary then, this ADMU alumnus (High School, 1973; AtB Literature, 1977) wrote to several universities proposing to present the government’s side on the controversial 2004 presidential elections, as he had done for the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines plenary meeting that year.

Most institutions accepted this writer’s offer — but not his alma mater.

He showed his 45-minute presentation with verified election data to college students at the University of the Philippines in Manila and Los Baños, De La Salle University, Centro Escolar University, St. Paul’s College Quezon City, University of Santo Tomas (where then Senator Aquino also spoke), and even ADMU’s neighbor Miriam College (with Senator Francis Escudero).

Yet even after speaking with the university president then and the academics VP, both longtime friends of this writer, he was not allowed to talk with the ADMU community, unlike anti-administration figures. (The writer’s research may be found at: http://www.manilatimes.net/who-won-the-2004-presidential-elections-1/100253/ and http://www.manilatimes.net/who-won-the-2004-presidential-elections-2/100448/ )

For universities to fulfill their calling of propagating impartial expert truth, they should be open to all views, even those they rightly dispute. That’s why Jesuit-run Georgetown University recently allowed an address by the head of Planned Parenthood, which the Church condemns for supporting contraception and abortion.

In the same spirit of academic freedom and impartial search for knowledge, the Ateneos may wish to let Senator Marcos present his views on campus and even solicit signatures, as his critics did. Thus, the whole unbridled truth can come out.

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23 Comments

  1. These administration is being ran by ateneans,look at what happenned?so much corruption,smuggling,criminality,why ateneo is silent about it?

  2. Will Ateneo condemn Ferdinand Marcos’ spiritual adviser Fr. Jose Cruz SJ?

    I wonder hehehe

  3. The writer is commendable on his objective appreciation of facts. Ateneo just dug its grave by allowing itself to be used by the Yellows, not at this time, when people after 30 years have seen that nothing came out good from the EDSA revolution. The Marcoses is gaining their dignity back from the people because they now have a clear comparison of the Marcoses and the Yellows. Between the 2 forces, the Marcos are far upright and helpful to the Filipino people. So I will vote Miriam-Marcos come election.

  4. The Catholic church has been playing with whoever is in power to stay in power if not to survive…and so are most of the schools that are run by orders from said religion….am not surprised by what Ateneo does or has been doing…Jesuits pa!

  5. Ateneo educational system has been deteriorating not only in this university and also de la salle. Mas mabuti pa ang prayle (spanish at madre) ang nagpapalakad nuong araw sa inyo at hindi ang mga pilipinong pare jesuit,) dahil may batas tayo na separation of church and government. Dito lang dapat maintindihan ng mga taga schools lalo na ang catholic schools na walang inimprob sa pagtuturo, instead naging mangmgang at wild ang kanilang mga student na hindi ko alam kung ano ang natutunan..Pathetic school.. UP is the best university in the Philippines time of 1970’s , but now what happen?? ZERO.. Iam sori but this is true… Ateneo De camote University.. and University of Potrero. Before our catholic schools , separate ang mga girls schools at boys school…They were not mix… Like saint Paul college,siena college, nasaan na ang, mga magagaling na school na ito???

  6. a school for oligarchs and elite. Look who administered the country for the past 5 years or so…. You are a good Atenean Mr. Saludo. Being a graduate of that elite school did not make you swell your head and sticked to reality and to what is right. Aquino should also apologize for his collaborator grandfather, his father exposer of national security action re: Jabiddah Massacre, her mother for the Kamaganak Inc., himself for appointing unqualified and incompetent people like him as members of his cabinet , his DOTC secretary whose greatgreatgrandpa betrayed A. Bonifacio and Hen. Luna, etc…. Fair is fair.

  7. I think, one of the reasons why the Philippines, despite having obtained independence more than 100 years, had not progress compared to neighboring Asian countries is because of hypocrisy. A great pretender.

  8. Crisostomo Ibarra on

    The Jesuits should stay apolitical. Give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s and to God what is God’s.

  9. Amnata Pundit on

    In short, nobody is that pure, except that the yellows including these Jesuits and the Aquino family think that they are the purest of the pure. Why is the Marcos name resurgent today in spite of 30 years of constant pounding? Because the people are now waking up to the lies these hypocrites have been throwing around about Marcos and their treasonous hero Ninoy Aquino. By the way, the Jesuits have been kicked out of countries and principalities more than 80 times in its entire 500 year existence, including once here in these islands during the Spanish period. Every time they were kicked out the reason was always the same: creating political intrigue. Apparently, nothing has changed.

  10. The govt should charged this Priest with Sedition and inciting to Riots. They do not have any rights to say something against or for Pro government. There is a Separation of Church and State Provision and it should be with held. If they want to say something “resign” from the clergy and then say something. Otherwise they just do not have any rights at all to say something. They are not even tax payer.

  11. “Senator Grace Poe should just bite her tongue when opponents raise questions about having a national leader who would share conjugal confidences with the citizen of a foreign power with centuries of meddling in the Philippines. Or a president whose mammoth funding and nationwide campaign network comes mainly from a billionaire notorious for cronyism since the Marcos era.”

    I find this as the most telling of all the liabilities our presidentiables should own up to.

    To add to the fact that her unfettered ambition and bid to win the highest post of the land, she does care if her being declared as fit to run by the SC has given another reason for those in the outside world to laugh at our legal system and worst, at our constitution.

  12. Leodegardo Pruna on

    Ateneo is losing its touch on academic freedom, political neutrality, independence, and moral values. We all are sinners and Ateneo administration and staff are no exception. The question is why is Ateneo keeping the psychological records of P-Noy from the people when they have the right at least to know the state of mind of the nation’s leader. God save the Philippines.

  13. Ariel Martinez on

    Your article serves as an eye opener to what should be the true facet of the academe and where the undersigned is also a graduate in law school and most of all, the tenet of “Honor they father and mother”, which has been taught to us since childhood.

    Most importantly, it reminds us of the old saying of Christ, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone”. All may have a thing or do going against them, but what is important is to see the sides of the story.

    What is more important now is who can lead the country to better heights and for the true essence of public service.

  14. I too am an alumnus of the Ateneo and I share your disappointment with our alma mater.

  15. That’s the lamest, most pathetic reason to let BBM off the hook for martial law atrocities. If BBM completely return the plundered money at his disposal and his family, then he can begin to court the people’s trust.

    This Macoy wannabe (BBM), talks big but runs for VP. Even Imelda is visibly unimpressed. Unless, BBM is thinking, that’s the short-cut to the presidency

    • Was there really atrocities during ML? Then why blamed it entirely on FM? Should Enrile, the architect of ML and Tabako who was head of the then Phil Constabulary, the latter component of the AFP was the most abusive military force be also not held responsible for the atrocities that you were imputing about? After all, the illegal acts committed by them were solely their own alone and could not be deemed to be that of FM if you were to apply the Command Responsibility rule.

      As to accusation of plundering, was there a criminal conviction of FM on this and many other crimes that the yellow court have been trumpeting for decades? Dude, if you still don’t know it, when a leader is no longer serving the interest of Uncle Sam, normally, that leader is labeled as dictator, corrupt, plunder, etc just so, Uncle Sam can justify the ousting of that leader to put in placed their puppet just like what happened in venezuela, Libya, Iraq and recently Ukraine. Get your facts straight as in that way you will not continue to live the lie and myths of Edsa 86 that have degenerated the country to where it is now.

    • Thank you for your comment, Just1patriot.

      The point of the article is not that Senator Marcos should be “let off the hook,” but rather the following view explicitly stated in the conclusion:

      “For universities to fulfill their calling of propagating impartial expert truth, they should be open to all views, even those they rightly dispute.”

      Thank you.

  16. The move of the Ateneans is simply like “cows being corraled and herded” by someone of money and power. It’s sad that learned as they are, or even claiming that they best others in the country, yet they bow to one’s whims and desires and acted like fools. Shame on them. Plain politics and, whether theyt like it or not, BBM will be the next Veep. Sorry.