The hermeneutics of bayani

Fr. Ranhilio Callangan Aquino

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The hermeneutics of bayani
What exactly are you blaming Ferdinand Marcos for? Declaring Martial Law? The ConstItution of 1935 gave him legal authority to do so.

Let’s admit that “bayani” is so ambivalent that really just about anyone’s burial there or at any shrine can be the subject of a protracted, pointless debate.

Was Aguinaldo a bayani? And Bonifacio? And Luna? That is the problem with valuations in history. There is no canonical reading of history, because there persists the challenge of dealing with the past in the present. 

And what we have now – claims to an authoritative rendering of history, and the rejection of all other versions as “revisionist” – is the truly retrogressive return to a discredited Enlightenment posture. And quite clearly, Rizal, our bayani, was, and is still the traitor to Spain who, when death was imminent, vainly attempted to recant all he had written against Spain. 

And what of Ninoy Aquino? He is, for many, the bayani of the Marcos era, but it is as plausible to read that chapter if the 80’s as the attempt of one man, with questionable political dalliances in the past, to wrest political power from Marcos, but who lost in trying to do so. Even now there are calls to re-name the international airport.

Sacrament of mercy?

Photo by Alecs Ongcal/Rappler

As for those Catholic universities so called and associations that oppose his burial at LIbingan, how can you, at a time when Pope Francis steers the Church away from its sanctimonious posturing and calls on it to be a sacrament of mercy? 

What exactly are you blaming him for? Declaring Martial Law? The ConstItution of 1935 gave him legal authority to do so. For ruling in authoritarian fashion? The same Constitution set no parameters for martial rule. Because there were human rights abuses? But there were  before Marcos, and there have been after him! 

And what makes him culpable for every incident of abuse? Nothing, absent solid evidence, except a stupid reading of “command responsibility”. Remember how everyone blamed him for Plaza Miranda? We were so sure he did it…and we were proved wrong. The CPP-NPA admitted they did it…and that Ninoy Aquino knew what was going to happen. 

So, where’s the proof? There will be plenty of proof of human rights abuses. But that Marcos knew of them, or directed them, or should have known about them? I still must see that, in accordance with the stringent standards of the law on evidence….and sound epistemology! –


The author is Dean, Graduate School of Law, San Beda College and Chair, Department of Jurisprudence and Legal Philosophy, Philippine Judicial Academy.

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