Marcos is dead, long live Marcos

Filipino elites, both national and provincial, have long embraced the Marcoses back into their fold, recognizing them as one of their own. Society pages and TV shows have avidly followed them as they made their way through the country's charmed circles. Today they move freely among artists and academics, business tycoons and politicians, and even the Church has welcomed them back. 

Revising history

Meanwhile, memories of Martial Law's horrors have subsided. This in part has been aided by an educational system that has not only revised to the point of erasure the catastrophe of the Marcos years, but also by a well-funded Public Relations machine that has elevated the Marcos accomplishments to the exclusion of the nastier aspects of his regime.

Even more significant, the Marcos cronies and henchmen have all returned. Indeed, they’ve never left, occupying important positions in business, Congress, the military, and journalism. Like those who collaborated with the Japanese during World War II, no one in the Marcos regime has ever been punished, nor held accountable, nor embarrassed and called out for the crimes they had committed. Instead, they have been elected to office and have become insanely wealthy. In the case of at least one crony, Cesar Virata, a school in UP was named after him. A massive lobotomy has ensued.

Duterte was and is part and parcel of that lobotomizing and revisionary process.

As with all the previous presidents, he represents an instance, albeit an important one, in the recuperation and revision of Marcos's legacy. It's no secret that he's an admirer of Marcos. His father served in the Marcos cabinet and there's some evidence that he actively participated in plotting coups against Cory as a member of the Guardian Brotherhood.

By allowing Marcos's burial, Duterte pays tribute to his political as well as biological fathers. But by honoring Marcos, he also willfuly dishonors those who suffered under the dictator, just as he deliberately, even maliciously, disregards the sufferings of the families of those killed in his war on drugs.

Additionally, the honor granted to Marcos flies in the face of evidence marshaled by the National Historical Commission that shows that Marcs was guilty of fraudulent representation of his military records. There is thus a peculiar symmetry between Duterte's mania for extra-judicial killings and Marcos's cruel authoritarianism. Assuming themselves to be above the law, both have governed arbitrarily beneath the veneer of political necessity.

Marcos is dead, more dead than he has ever been. But in Duterte and the Marcos family, his specter returns to haunt us once again. –