Three decades have gone by since February 1986, when the Filipino people’s unified will and action ousted the Marcos dictatorship. Ignominously, the US imperialists plucked the tyrant and his family—along with their loot—out of Malacañang by helicopters, subsequently flying them to safe exile in Hawaii.
Yet today the Marcos heirs are back in the high circles of power. And the dictator’s embalmed remains—publicly displayed in Batac, Ilocos Norte for over two decades—was deceitfully ensconced in the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November 2016, courtesy of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Yet they haven’t returned much of the estimated $10-billion they had stolen during their corrupt, abusive and repressive reign. With such a huge war chest that can only grow bigger over time (even at conservative interest rates in what Imelda Marcos flaunts as over 100 secret bank accounts), they are being served/protected by a platoon of lawyers. They have allies and toadies at various levels of the reactionary government, besides a fleet of PR people, false historians, and keyboard warriors.
They thus feel secure moving freely within the same bureaucrat capitalist system that nurtured them in power.
The rotten system enabled them to amass wealth at the cost of thousands of Filipino lives and the stunting of Philippines’ agricultural and industrial development. It allowed them to spend five years of lavish and vulgar exile in Hawaii. Upon their return, towing the embalmed body of their dictator patriarch, this system welcomed them back into the fold as they gradually carved anew their fiefdom.
Twice did Imelda Marcos attempt to run for President: in 1992 when she lost and in 1998, when she withdrew her candidacy. In between her two presidential bids, Imelda won a seat in Congress where she served as Leyte representative for three years (1995-1998). In 2010, she again won a seat in Congress, this time representing Ilocos Norte, the late dictator’s home province and political base.
Starting from their Ilocos Norte base, the two elder Marcos siblings took turns being the province’s governor and congressional representative from 1992 to 1998. It was 24 years since dictator Marcos was ousted when Bongbong Marcos entered the Senate in 2010. Imee Marcos took longer entering the national scene. She came into the Senate in 2019.
It was in Bongbong Marcos’s first stab at the vice-presidency in 2016 that the family tasted their first defeat in what some accounts call their “spectacular comeback.” Unaccustomed to setback, Bongbong lodged an electoral protest he wouldn’t let go even after three years.
The family has now repositioned itself back as close as possible to Malacañang. But for Bongbong’s defeat at the 2016 national polls, he would have been just a heartbeat away from the presidency, a very real threat to the Filipino people considering Duterte’s multiple acknowledged illnesses. Had Marcos Jr “won” the vice-presidency, Duterte would have—as he has publicly expressed a number of times—opted to yield the presidency and thus pave the way to the Marcoses’ total political rehabilitation.
Undoubtedly, the Marcoses are a veritable example of bureaucrat capitalism. To this day articles are being written about how the dictator Marcos and his wife “smartly” looted the national coffers, put up opaque companies and seized stakes in strategic businesses, and how he “transformed” the military and the police into a unified armed forces to back up his fascist rule, rendering the armed services deeply partisan (for him) and more corruptible than ever.
Throughout that process, the US imperialists propped up his dictatorship. They armed, trained and guided the establishment of the armed forces for their own imperialist ends and those of their puppet tyrant. Marcos, “our ‘son-of-a-bitch’” (as then President George Bush referred to him) only became a “problem” to them when the people began protesting against the dictatorship in evergrowing number and frequency. The armed communist-led revolution was growing by leaps and bounds and had led the fight against the dictatorship and its imperialist master.
Marcos’ ouster will always be a historical triumph of the Filipino people’s collective power— both armed and unarmed, in the underground and in the open democratic arena of struggles. The ongoing turbo-charged rehabilitation of the Marcoses under Duterte, however, is as loud a reminder as we all can get that, no, the people cannot stop at merely ousting the current, abusive tyrant. The system that breeds such ilk needs also to be smashed. This system has proven to have merely continued the puppet presidency and imperialist domination of the country.
A corrupt system is bound to rehabilitate the Marcoses
The Communist Party of the Philippines, in a 2018 statement, sharply pointed out that the “successive reactionary regimes failed miserably to address the clamor of the Filipino people for swift justice.” “Every ruling regime allowed the Marcoses to return stage by stage,” it said. “None carried out a decisive act of justice, fearing this will rouse demands for the same measures to be meted against them over the same crimes they themselves commit while in power.”
At the outset, Cory Aquino, responding to insistent public demand, established the PCGG (Presidential Commission on Good Government) to go after the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth. But her administration emasculated the PCGG by ordering it to seize nothing directly and work instead through the courts. What the agency recovered, of course, was peanuts for the dirty-moneyed Marcoses.
The US imperialist’s rescue of their once serviceable puppet continued even after the Marcoses returned to the Philippines. The US government redacted transactions involving US organizations in their records. The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) refused to disclose what they knew, reportedly prompting a veteran of PCGG to call the US and Marcoses “partners in theft.”
Most probably, the US possesses loads of damning information on the kleptocracy and rights abuses of the Marcoses. Not only does it exercise control of the Philippine state forces, it’s also been known to keep tabs on even its “allies,” according to a declassified report on the CIA’s eavesdropping on conversations of government leaders such as those of the Philippines.
With clues from the US and their latest puppet on how the Marcoses were to be cossetted since the late 1980s, Marcos died in Hawaii without being punished by the Filipino people, through their supposed government’s justice system. His widow, Imelda, returned to the Philippines with her three adult children in 1992. She was greeted by an avalanche of graft cases. But with their political allies regaining government posts, she never had to worry about jail time or threats of warrants of arrest.
Imelda was convicted at least twice for graft, once in 1993 for a fraudulent land deal and in 2018 for illicit financial dealings with Switzerland-based NGOs. But she remains free to this day. In her 2018 conviction, under Duterte’s watch, she was asked to put up bail of only P300,000, despite the gravity of the case and the amount of what’s been stolen. The conviction is turning out into a ploy to fast track the movement of the case.
After more than five administrations (including two Aquinos), more than 90 lawyers and personnel of PCGG placed at the increasingly frustrating trail of seeing signs of billions of hidden wealth — only for these to be whisked away before their eyes — and the precious length of time that’s gone by, the Marcoses still harbor much of the ill-gotten wealth. Some of it was divulged in the upheaval of disclosures regarding what are called the Panama papers, where the ultra-rich keep their money away from taxes and prying eyes.
By now it’s clear the graft cases against the Marcoses have been filed only to placate the angry masses.
Dictator’s final rehab under a Marcos clone
The impact of the people’s victory in ousting Marcos and the underlying desire for genuine democracy was such that it took the Marcoses more than three decades before bureaucrat capitalism could ease them back into Malacañang as “honored” guests. The Marcoses managed to do it under another imperialist puppet president they financially supported as candidate, who publicly claims he idolizes Marcos and looks back at his father’s political career as one that had benefited from the Marcoses.
And, yes, before we forget, a president who evidently wants to be another dictator and tyrant. He himself has already reprised many Marcosian tactics.
Despite his anti-corruption posturing, Duterte early into his term stunned the nation by allowing Marcos’ embalmed remains to be buried, after at least two postponements due to public protests, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in November 2016. The most brazen of post-Edsa puppet presidents at helping the Marcoses, he nevertheless balked at personally witnessing the undeserved public pomp reserved only for a hero’s and former president’s burial. It took him a year before he set out again to glorify Marcos: commemorated him in postage stamps. The Duterte regime has timed its actions idolizing Marcos on the last quarter of the year.
Under Duterte the corruption cases against the Marcoses that dragged on for more than three decades are being thrown out one by one.
In August and October 2019 several ill-gotten wealth cases against the Marcoses, 27 to 31 years in court, were dismissed allegedly for lack of probative evidence (government lawyers only submitted photocopies of documents, whose originals are supposedly kept in the Bangko Sentral vaults), or for the lawyers’ failure to attend court hearings.
The bulk of their massive loot remains beyond reach of the government and the people from whom they stole it. Estimates of what the PCGG managed to recover ran from just one to two billion dollars. The precious works of arts bought with stolen money inadvertently would show in Imeldific photographs in her posh digs, but they always disappear whenever the investigators come knocking.
The billions they extorted from coconut farmers were partially recovered but each succeeding administration has made it difficult for the coconut farmers and real owners of the fund to fully recover it.
People must clip the Marcoses’ greed
Thus, looking at the Marcoses’ rehabilitation into power, it is not true that horror repeats itself. It gets more horrendous in Part 2.
Unapologetic, flushed with their success, the Marcoses are greedy for more. They’re spoiled believing they can get away with it, again and again. They’re coming back to do more of the same on a vehicle much bigger and ratcheted up by their original loot; oiled by the blood, sweat and tears of injustices of those they had oppressed; and covered by the same imperialist power that continues to lord over the country as long as their puppets dutifully run it to the ground for the benefit of their businesses and military interests.
More than three decades since the world applauded the Filipino people’s uprising that booted them out, the Marcoses have not been made to account for the thousands of human rights violations and humanitarian crimes they committed to maintain the dictatorship.
Now the maturing children, beneficiaries of the Marcos loot and their network of allies and cronies, are hovering about for another chance to take over Malacañang. They are intent as well in whitewashing their family’s crimes; Imee Marcos chose to head the Senate committee on culture. Like father like daughter, as he had faked his wartime medals, she faked her academic achievements (so did Bongbong, too). Whenever confronted about their family’s crimes, Imee perfunctority tells the Filipinos: “Move on.”
Against the Marcoses’ rehabilitation and whitewashing, against the current president’s desiring to be another Marcos, the CPP 2018 statement declares that theFilipino people “have no other recourse but to take revolutionary action and overthrow the ruling system and class rule of big bourgeois compradors, big landlords and bureaucrat capitalists.”
“Only by wielding revolutionary power—democratic people’s power—can they subject the biggest criminal and fascist oppressors to just punishment with full decisiveness and dispatch,” the CPP statement concludes. ###
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