The Philippine government marked the 43rd anniversary of the declaration of martial law with the usual mantras about the need for everyone to see to it that “never again” will there be authoritarian rule in this country.
Speaking for President Benigno Aquino III, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma, who was himself a political prisoner during the period, described martial rule—which Ferdinand Marcos imposed throughout the country in 1972 through Presidential Proclamation 1081—as “one of the darkest chapters in the country’s history.”
No matter what his apologists and he himself believes, like every other Philippine President Benigno Aquino III will be leaving Malacanang in 2016 with a trail of citizen disappointment behind him. But unlike in that of his predecessors, the disappointment will be worse in his case because of the high expectations that attended his taking office.
Not only did Aquino campaign for the highest post in this country armed with the attributes he inherited from his parents; he was also saying the right things. In keeping with Corazon and Benigno Aquino Jr.’s presumed allegiance to democratization as exemplified by their struggle against the Marcos dictatorship, Aquino III declared the protection of human rights and his commitment to transparency among his core programs.
Only a few individuals and groups, among the latter the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), took issue with a statement by Commission on Higher Education (CHED) chair Patricia Licuanan last August that not every student should go to college.
What she said should have occupied both the media and citizens more than such inanities as the “AlDub” television phenomenon or the latest developments in Manuel “Mar” Roxas II’s and Jejomar Binay’s trifling quest for a candidate for Vice President. In time these will pass as most things do. But the education of the younger generations will have an impact on the nation far beyond the imbecilities of daytime TV and the delusions of Philippine partisan politics.
In a performance that would have done his father proud, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. managed to apologize and not apologize at the same time during a television interview last week (August 26).
Marcos Jr. was asked if he was going to apologize for martial law — that period in Philippine recent history, the length of which is still in dispute to this day. (Martial law officially ended in 1981, but in testimony to his own cunning, Ferdinand Marcos retained his authoritarian powers until he was overthrown in 1986.)