Aquino holds the line against the Marcos deception
SAN FRANCISCO—Noynoy Aquino’s government is not perfect. He is not a perfect president. At the rate he’s going, he probably won’t be remembered as a great president.
But he did a good thing for the nation recently.
By finally declaring that a brutal tyrant who destroyed our country must not receive state honors, should never be considered a hero, Noynoy Aquino will, at least, be remembered as an honorable man.
He will be seen as a decent leader who, despite his flaws, understood that a corrupt despot like Ferdinand Marcos can never be, should never be, considered a hero.
It took a while, and many of us were worried that P-Noy would turn out to be a wimp who would give in to, get hoodwinked by, the forces of tyranny and greed.
But he’s proven us wrong. And this is one time that I’m glad to be proven wrong.
Noynoy, fortunately, for the future of our country, opted to uphold a historic truth: that dictatorship can never be, should never be, glorified.
He may be rightfully criticized on other issues—from Hacienda Luisita, to the much-delayed freedom of information law, to ongoing problems related to abuse and corruption.
But Noynoy Aquino, this time, bravely stepped forward to hold the line.
What he did is important, even historic—and here’s why.
If he had caved in to pressure, if he had been duped into giving in to the demand of the Marcoses to give the dictator a state funeral, to honor as a hero someone who is universally known as one of the most corrupt leaders in the history of humankind, it would have been tantamount to spitting on the graves of Ninoy and Cory Aquino, of the hundreds of thousands of Filipinos who died for freedom.
If, as many of us had feared, Noynoy had been weak, and had let that line be crossed, it would have been a grave setback for us, a tragic reversal in our story as a people.
For in every nation, there are lines that should not be crossed, truths that should always be upheld because so many people fought and died to expose them.
Racism and slavery were once widely accepted, even celebrated in the United States.
Denying women the right to vote and barring them from public office were once the way things were in many countries, including the Philippines and the United States.
There was a time when the Nazis were the respected, even beloved, lords of Germany and parts of Europe.
Millions died to defeat, reverse, debunk or weaken severely, these injustices, these twisted beliefs, these forces of repression.
Just as tens of thousands of Filipinos sacrificed their lives to defeat the Marcos dictatorship.
Tens of thousands made sacrifices to expose the regime as one big lie, to crystallize what is perhaps the most important lesson in our history as a nation—that we must never, ever believe, get duped by a fancy-talking, wheeling-dealing politician promising a new order, declaring that he can create paradise in our archipelago—while secretly, brutally plundering our land, abusing our people, our land, our heritage.
Which brings me to Bongbong Marcos.
The dictator’s son is denying that lesson. He’s insisting that the nightmare our nation endured under Marcos was, in fact, a beautiful dream.
Now, Bongbong is upset. He’s angry. He’s whining.
Noynoy, he says, “has wasted a very good opportunity to unify the nation. The job of the President is not to play partisan politics, but to unify the country and that is apparently not his tendency.”
“He would like to continue whatever divisions we have in our country. He obviously does not want to heal those divisions. He wants to widen those divisions, which brings us to the conclusion that he’s not a natural leader.”
Stunning comments. And I could only think of one word to describe them: kawalanghiyaan.
We’re all familiar with the counter-argument. ‘Why attack Marcos, when the presidents who came after the late tyrant also made a mess of things?’
It’s a twisted argument.
For, certainly, abuses, corruption happened under the administrations of Cory, FVR, Erap and GMA. Philippines politics, despite some gains since the time of dictatorship, is still a game played by shameless trapos.
But Bongbong still doesn’t get it. Or he chooses not to get it.
We may have had bad leaders after the fall of dictatorship – but no one has come close to the greed, the brutality, the extreme shamelessness of his father’s regime.
The Philippines has had awful leaders, yes. And some of the presidents who came after Marcos even tried to pull a Marcos, tried to come up with schemes in order to expand and extend their powers.
But each of these leaders was forced to back down. They had to step down when it was time to step aside.
But not Marcos. The dictator actually wanted to stay in power forever. He manipulated the system to do so. And he nearly succeeded.
And we must never forget that. And we must also accept a painful fact: Philippine democracy is a work in progress. In fact, democracy can never be a perfect system, in which one leader can cure all ills in one stroke.
We will have bad leaders and good leaders, smart leaders and dumb leaders, inspiring leaders and leaders who would make us collectively scratch our heads to ask, ‘How in the world did this joke become president?’
This is true even for older democracies like the United States.
But the basic rule should still be: ‘Okay, you got elected, you get to serve. But when your term is up, you step aside and let someone else serve.’
That was not how Ferdinand Marcos saw it. He wanted it all, and he wanted it forever.
And now Ferdinand Jr., apparently, wants to play the same game—the politics of extreme shamelessness.
Noynoy Aquino just took a big step toward making sure he doesn’t succeed.
On Twitter @KuwentoPimentel. On Facebook at www.faebook.com/benjamin.pimentel
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