It’s the dictator’s turn to laugh at Binay
Here’s what’s funny about Jojo Binay’s new tune on Ferdinand Marcos Sr.: there was a time when Binay laughed at the late dictator.
In fact, he laughed so hard it got him trouble. His laughter was so loud, an angry judge in Quezon City threatened to throw him in jail.
And now, it’s the corrupt tyrant who’s probably laughing in his refrigerated vault at Binay. (Wait, are you allowed to laugh in hell? Never mind. That’s another story.)
So here’s what happened: Jojo Binay wants to be president so badly he now wants us to forget about a recent dark chapter in our history. He wants us to forget about the killings, the torture, the murders, the rapes, the stealing, the rapacious greed of the Marcos dictatorship.
“Let’s move on. Human rights (during the martial law) is no longer an issue,” Binay said
He said this after being asked about picking the tyrant’s son, Bongbong as his running mate, and how that would seem to many as awkward, weird and hypocritical.
After all, weren’t you supposedly a staunch opponent of the dictatorship?
Yes, Bongbong is not his father; but didn’t Marcos Jr. also say repeatedly that he thought life under Dad the Dictator was pretty much like paradise?
In fact, Marcos Jr. also argued that if only the Filipino nation had not kicked his father out, the Philippines would be like Singapore today.
Which should really make anyone, including Binay, ask: What is this guy smoking?
You mean the Philippines could have become like Singapore, considered one of the least corrupt nations in the world, under a tyrant now considered one of the most corrupt rulers in history?
That doesn’t bother Binay.
“The debacle is already a thing of the past,” Binay also said, as reported by INQUIRER.net.
It’s a past in which Binay played a role in a comic chapter in the history of the Marcos dictatorship. I wrote about this a few years ago when Binay was put in charge of making the decision on the Marcoses’ bid to have the dictator’s remains buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. It’s worth recalling that story again.
It happened in 1982 when the regime shut down the WE Forum, the opposition newspaper. Marcos’ security forces raided the newspaper’ office and jailed members of its staff, led by the respected editor Joe Burgos.
WE Forum had been one of the most courageous critics of the dictatorship. Marcos finally said enough is enough when the paper exposed one of the dictator’s shameless secrets — his war medals were fake. Marcos was a fake hero. During the WE Forum trial, lawyers from Mabini also exposed that justice under his regime was a joke.
I was a student journalist from UP Diliman when I covered the trial in a Quezon City courtroom.
Back then, as a Mabini lawyer, Binay was one of the good guys. Mabini lawyers were known to be fearless in defying the regime’s brand of fake justice. The dictatorship routinely used military witnesses who were so shamelessly inept, a hearing typically turned into a sham, even a circus.
The trial became famous for several memorable — hilarious — exchanges.
One of Mabini’s top lawyers, former Senator Rene Saguisag, was relentless as a defense attorney, which sometimes got him in trouble in a Marcos-controlled courtroom. Saguisag recalled some details of the trial in an email to me a few years ago.
At one point, he pointed to the presence of so many soldiers in the courtroom and complained about the proceedings being militarized. The judge fined him 50 pesos.
“I’ll gladly pay it,” he responded, pulling out a hundred-peso bill from his wallet. Saguisag, unable to resist another act of defiance, added: “Can I say something more for another fifty pesos.”
The judge finally lost it when he threw Saguisag in jail for declaring in open court that it was Marcos who was the real subversive. In fact, the term he used was “super-subversive.”
“Your honor I have been asked by my colleagues to apologize, but I cannot do it,” Saguisag recalled saying. “A weekend in jail? A very low price to pay for the high privilege of sharing the suffering of our unhappy motherland.”
Yes, he can be full of it. Even Saguisag knew this, as he recalled in the email that his speech prompted another Mabini lawyer, Joker Arroyo, to quip, “Lintik, nag-Rizal na naman.”
The other memorable incident involved Binay.
A colonel who was testifying for the regime was reading his testimony, and Saguisag asked the judge that that be noted on the record.
Irritated, the officer snapped at Saguisag: “I’m not reading.” The colonel then threw a crumpled piece of paper at Saguisag.
Saguisag recalled that Soc Rodrigo, one of the WE Forum columnists detained by the regime, then urged the judge not to be lenient to the disrespectful officer.
But the Marcos judge knew his place in the dictatorship. The witness was a member of the dictator’s security forces, and you don’t give orders to someone with his power.
The judge, Saguisag recalls, responded to the call to penalize the officer by whispering: “But I already told him not to do it again.”
“The audience roared in laughter,” Saguisag recalled in the email. “The judge said he would clear the courtroom if the audience did not keep quiet.”
But pandemonium ensued. I remember laughing with the Mabini lawyers and the spectators.
And it was then that Binay got in trouble. Raising his voice, the judge cited Binay for contempt.
“But why me, your honor,” Binay asked.
“For laughing the loudest!” was the response.
Of course, that only made us laugh even louder. The judge fined Binay, but in a courtroom full of people willing to openly defy the regime the latter had nothing to worry about. His fellow lawyers and other spectators pulled bills out of their wallets and offered the money to the judge.
The lawyer who laughed at the dictator’s twisted system of justice was saved by the courtroom protest. And now Binay wants us to forget what happened to us back then. Forget the harassment and the torture, the rapes and the plunder, the fake justice run by cowed judges and arrogant military bullies.
He was actually singing a different tune just a few years ago when, as Makati mayor, Binay marked the 25th anniversary of the WE Forum crackdown. In a statement, he said that during the Marcos regime “press freedom came under siege from a despotic regime intent on suppressing the exercise of Constitutional rights.”
And around this time last year, he said, “I join my fellow martial law activists in observing the 42nd anniversary of its declaration in 1972.”
“For those of us who struggled against the dictatorship and survived its repressive machinery,” he said in a statement, “our greatest challenge is to keep the fight for freedom alive, especially among the younger generation.”
But I guess a lot has happened in the past 12 months. The man who wants to be president has been reeling from very convincing accusations that he is just as corrupt as the tyrant he once mocked in a courtroom.
Now it’s the dictator’s turn to laugh and say, “Kala mo kung sino kang malinis noon, pareho lang pala tayo.”
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