Duterte's nod to Marcos burial 'painful for Mindanaoans'
MANILA, Philippines – The surprise burial of the late Ferdinand Marcos last week triggered an outpouring of rage from martial law victims, university communities, and other sectors protesting the dictator's burial at the final resting place of the country's heroes and martyrs. (IN PHOTOS, VIDEOS: A night of rage, camaraderie, and purpose)
But there is one other group feeling the anger and hurt over the burial, which had been a campaign promise – and now a reality – made by President Rodrigo Duterte.
"The Marcos period, for many of the Mindanaoans who remembered, was a very painful period, and my suspicion is that for some of them, it might be painful for the first Mindanaoan president to bury the man who caused so much harm and destruction for their region," said Lisandro Claudio, assistant professor of development studies at Ateneo de Manila University. (READ: Young Moro professionals 'decry' Marcos burial at Libingan)
Claudio said that a lot of atrocities during Marcos' ironfisted rule were committed in Mindanao. Just two years after Marcos declared Martial Law in 1974, the town of Jolo was burned down in an attempt to launch an offensive against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
According to the book, "The Philippines People, Poverty and Politics" by Leonard Davis, a total of 703 people were considered desaparecidos or victims of forced disappearances between 1977 to 1985.
Of this number, Mindanao accounted for 63.3% of the victims, with 445 reported missing. During the same period, 1,511 Mindanaoans were also victims of extra-judicial killings.
In an opinion piece in the Inquirer, University of the Philippines-Diliman chancellor Michael Tan wrote: "The war with the Muslims continued through the years, with the martial law regime using divide-and-rule tactics, fanning prejudice and hostility between Christians and Muslims. The Ilaga was only one of many fanatical paramilitary groups that emerged in Mindanao, fighting not just Muslims but also Christians suspected of being communists."
Reaction of the Left
Duterte's decision to allow a Marcos burial has also driven a wedge between the Duterte government and the Philippine Left.
Just a day after the Marcos burial, the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) slammed the President and urged him to "reverse" the burial and correct a "historical wrong."
"In ordering the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] to give Marcos hero's honors, Duterte is proving himself a rotten trapo (traditional politician) who has no qualms working with the worst of the bureaucrat capitalists and gives premium to paying political debt and political loyalties even to the detriment of the people's aspirations for historical and social justice," the CPP said.
In recent months, the CPP has been enjoying better relations with the government, with both sides currently exploring peace talks to end the longest-running insurgency in Asia.
Claudio said the CPP is balancing its current position of being close to the Duterte administration – with Cabinet posts even offered to them – and their historical opposition to the Marcos regime.
"They're trying to balance it, their alliance with President Duterte who has allowed the Marcos burial, and their very long tradition of being one of the, if not the pre-eminent, anti-Marcos movement in the Philippines," he said.
Claudio also pointed out that if the Duterte administration wants peace with the CPP and the MNLF, it should look at what had prompted these movements to mobilize in the first place.
"MNLF emerged as a reaction to Marcos. So if you really want to repair damage with the MNLF and the CPP, it's also good to acknowledge why they're fighting to begin with. President Duterte wants peace. So a good question to ask is, when did the CPP start fighting? When did the MNLF start fighting? And it can be traced back to the Marcos period," he said.
Asked if the Left might play a smaller part in the opposition against the burial, Claudio acknowledged that the role of the anti-Marcos movements as a whole might be diluted because of the people's clamor for unbiased motives.
"The anti-Marcos movements, as a whole, might be diluted kasi ang gusto ng mga tao ngayon ay yung walang guhitan, walang kulay, walang dilaw, walang pula, katotohanan lamang," he said.
(The anti-Marcos movements, as a whole, might be diluted because what people want nowadays is no lines drawn, no political color, no yellow, no red, just the truth.) – Rappler.com