The Manila Times
NO HOLDS BARRED
Rep. Edcel C. Lagman’s
Weekly Thursday Column
IN Germany and Spain, the memorials, vestiges, and artifacts of their dictators and tyrants, like Adolf Hitler and Francisco Franco, respectively, have been removed and obliterated by government edict and popular clamor.
The cleansing of the horrific vestiges of Hitler’s reign of terror in Germany and in Europe began almost instantly after World War 2. The German government and the German people themselves have been steadfast in their resolve and contrite in their honesty in condemning the atrocities and brutalities of Hitler’s tyrannical rule and the suffering and sorrow that Nazi forces sowed across Europe.
Germany owned up as a nation to its wartime leaders’ grievous sins and held itself accountable to the victims of the Holocaust and numerous war crimes. It still pays today reparations to the victims and their families. It cooperated in the Nuremberg trials which convicted notorious Nazi party officials and ranking military officers.
In 1949, West Germany banned by law the public display of the swastika, a Nazi-corrupted symbol of hate and intolerance, and other Nazi symbols and propaganda. This prohibition now applies to unified Germany. The “Heil Hitler” salute is also prohibited and Holocaust denial criminalized. All schools are mandated to teach the horrors of the Holocaust and dangers of historical revisionism.
But this did not happen overnight. A combination of competent, principled, and progressive leaders and an enlightened citizenry ensured Germany’s decimation of Hitler’s memorials and atonement for his transgressions.
After leading a military coup in 1936 that sparked the bloody Spanish Civil War, Gen. Francisco Franco ruled as a dictator for almost 40 years until his death in 1975. Three decades later in 2007, the Spanish parliament enacted the ‘Historical Memory Law’ granting reparations to civil war victims from both sides and to the victims of the Franco regime. The law requires government authorities to remove Francoist signs and symbols from government buildings and public places; rename streets, plazas, and marketplaces; and cleanse all public spaces of monuments and shrines that venerate or glorify the tyrannical Franco regime.
On Oct. 24, 2019, with the approval of the Spanish high tribunal, the Spanish government exhumed the remains of Franco from a basilica which had become a shrine for the far right, and transferred them to a cemetery near Madrid. Three years before, two of the tyrant’s leading generals were disinterred from Pamplona’s ‘Monument of the Fallen’.
In contrast, in the Philippines, shortly after the Marcoses were allowed to return to the country to face corruption charges, the dictator’s widow, Imelda Romualdez-Marcos, had the gall to run for president in 1992 where she placed second to the last. But in the same elections, Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr. won a congressional seat in his father’s bailiwick in Ilocos Norte. In subsequent elections, Imelda, Bongbong, and Imee Marcos won the positions of governor, representative, and senator. However, Bongbong lost in his first bid for senator in 1995 and was also defeated for vice president by then Rep. Leni Robredo in 2016.
On Nov. 18, 2016, despite public outcry, the remains of the dictator were interred in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani with the blessings of President Rodrigo Duterte, even before the finality of a divided Supreme Court decision.
The Marcos heirs have flaunted power and money as if the dictator Marcos had not been ousted by the Filipino people in the 1986 People Power Revolution.
Amnesia, induced by money and false propaganda, has deadened Filipinos’ memory of the dark martial law years. Historical revisionism glorifying Marcos and aggrandizing his false achievements has blurred the younger generation’s perception of history and blunted the people’s will.
Filipinos must never forget Marcos’ cardinal sins: declaring martial law to perpetuate himself in power; padlocking the Congress and arrogating the role of sole legislator; stifling dissent by incarcerating his critics; emasculating the judiciary by ordering the resignation of magistrates below the Supreme Court, of which most justices had been co-opted by Marcos; wantonly violating human rights by detaining ‘enemies of the State’ without bail and trial, summarily executing ‘suspects’, and forcibly disappearing countless victims; unlawfully closing media outlets and suppressing freedom of the press and of expression; plundering the economy and amassing ill-gotten hoards amounting to billions of US dollars; ballooning the foreign debt from $1-B in 1965 to $28-B in 1986 of mostly behest and corrupted loans; and submerging the economy to a Gross Domestic Product of negative 7%.
On the evils of the Marcos martial law regime, the Supreme Court has made the following indelible pronouncements: a) the corruption was an ‘organized pillage of the nation’s coffers’ (PCGG v Peña); b) the ‘travails of the country are laid’ on the dictator’s doorstep (Marcos v Manglapus); c) the Marcoses’ ‘Swiss deposits should be considered ill-gotten wealth and forfeited in favor of the State’ (People v Sandiganbayan); and d) ‘the proper rebuke to the iniquitous past has to involve the award of reparations’ (Mijares vs. Ranada).
Likewise, the Congress has recognized the atrocities of Marcos and enacted landmark legislations like the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, the Anti-Enforced or Involuntary Disappearance Act of 2012, and the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
The Marcoses have not shown any remorse, repentance, and atonement. They have not even asked for forgiveness. They continue to deceive Filipinos with tales of Marcos ‘glory days’.
Like in Germany and Spain, it is for the government and the Filipino people to obliterate the Marcos dictatorship. The process must start, albeit belatedly, in never electing again a Marcos heir to public trust, much more to the presidency of the Republic.
The portals of Malacañang must be barricaded against Bongbong Marcos whose father abused this exalted seat of power in oppressing the Filipino people and marauding the people’s treasury.
This odious past must not obscure the present. The breed of repression and greed is an evil lineage which must be exorcised. The rejection of the dictator’s namesake at the polls is a liberation which the Filipino people truly deserve.