Bongbong Marcos

[Pastilan] Junior wants to be President, that’s what

Herbie Gomez
[Pastilan] Junior wants to be President, that’s what
'After 10 years, he still hasn't figured out how to deal with difficult questions like that, which is understandable because the ugly things that happened during the Marcos Martial Law years are indefensible'

There’s something about award-winning journalists and dictators (and their children). The former have demonstrated time and again their commitment to pursue the truth and hold those in the corridors of power accountable for their actions; the latter don’t like the spotlight on facts and neither do they like their records scrutinized.

This is why the mere mention of Jessica Soho’s name is enough to give Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., the screaming abdabs. Soho has a long list of awards here and abroad under her belt and is one of the most trusted broadcasters in the country today. She has a Peabody which, in broadcast journalism, is equivalent to a Pulitzer.

Soho is a journalist worth her salt. She is serious about it. And so, it didn’t come as a surprise then that Junior begged off when GMA-7 invited him to grace The Jessica Soho Presidential Interviews. He is, after all, the son of dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos who has yet to fully come to terms with the fact that his father and all those who feasted on Filipinos during his reign of terror were and are a disgrace.

Junior can’t stand historical truths and so, he doesn’t want to talk about history anymore, and anyone who frames questions premised on the 1972-1986 period is “biased.”

Anyone can decline interviews. That is correct, except that he is seeking the presidency and, as such, he needs to submit to some form of public scrutiny.

By now, it’s clear that he won’t, even when he’s applying for the position of president. If he becomes one, what else would he keep from public view?

Now, we know that Soho scares the living daylights out of Junior. Had he accepted the GMA-7 invite and showed up, then we would know how he would handle tough questions from those he perceives to be “biased.” What we saw is a presidential aspirant incapable of transparency, and a politician who can’t handle critical sectors and watchdogs that demand accountability. He discredits them, labels them “biased,” and hides from them while he sweats like a pig.

(It makes me wonder if GMA-7 would kneel or suffer the fate of ABS-CBN if, by chance, Junior succeeds in his bid.)

His camp said Soho didn’t treat him well in past interviews. Naturally, people became curious and soon, a 10-year-old GMA-7 video clip resurfaced. It showed Junior like he was creaming his pants while Soho was asking him all the right questions.

After 10 years, he still hasn’t figured out how to deal with difficult questions like that, which is understandable because the ugly things that happened during the Marcos Martial Law years are indefensible. So duck he did.

The only way to deodorize that reign is to twist the facts, lie, and discredit the entire world, which is exactly what’s being done now on social media that somehow gave dictators and their families a second wind.

Carlos H. Conde, the senior researcher for Asia of Human Rights Watch, said, “That’s something he’s bound to do, one of the objectives of his candidacy. This is worrisome because this will only embolden state security forces to commit more abuses. As it is, there is hardly any accountability for Martial Law abuses – Bongbong ignoring these, defending these, will perpetuate the impunity.”

Now, it turns out that Junior equates being biased to being anti-Marcos. To him, the human rights abuses and ill-gotten wealth attached to Martial Law were more than 30-year-old issues, and any discussion on his father’s one-man rule would be a waste of time, like mere passage of time can negate historical truths.

He told One News on January 24 that his opinion on the Marcos martial rule won’t change, and that he would rather talk about government programs now.

So, this early, he gets to choose his topics. We thank talent manager and publicist Boy Abunda because now we know exactly what Junior wants to discuss: mining, COVID-19 and socio-economic recovery, poverty and ayuda, overseas workers, rape-related abortion, drug menace, debts, West Philippine Sea, corruption, presidential qualifications, Duterte and the International Criminal Court, Pornhub – and 51 seconds about Martial Law and Amnesty International (AI).

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In nine years of the dictator’s two-decade rule, some 34,000 Marcos critics were tortured, 3,240 were murdered and dumped, and 398 others went missing. And Junior said he didn’t know how AI got the figures and asked it to show its report, something which he claimed he has never seen.

The 1975 AI Mission to the Philippines documented cases of torture and abuses during the early years of Martial Law. Records show that AI even wrote his father a letter that year. With the letter is the AI report with recommendations to the dictator.

“In sending a mission to The Philippines, AI had not anticipated the extent to which torture was practiced against martial law detainees. The delegates were deeply concerned by the harshness of such torture and at the evidence of its widespread use,” read part of the 1975 report. It noted that 70% of the prisoners interviewed by the mission said they had been tortured.

Junior is trying to sweep Martial Law under the rug as part of his campaign to bring back power to his family.

Truth is, the Marcos Martial Law era was the darkest post-war period in Philippine history in the 20th century

In Mindanao where I am based, many prominent people have stories to tell about how they were abused during this period.

One of the first victims was a student activist who nearly went blind in the hands of his torturers while in detention in Bukidnon. Had it not been for his uncle, a politician who came to the rescue, he would have suffered worse. Years later, the victim placed 7th in the bar exams and became a respected lawyer in Cagayan de Oro.

Then there was this pregnant activist who was stripped naked and made to lie on top of a block of ice while an electric fan blew air on her full blast. She miscarried hours later.

And who could discount Nene Pimentel, whose star rose with each arrest and detention? The man was arrested four times and once placed under house arrest because he dared defy the dictator whose word was law and who ruled by decree. 

In Pimentel’s memoir, Martial Law in the Philippines: My Story, the late former Senate president wrote: “One of the things for which Marcos could be blamed, I invariably said, was the fact that senseless ‘salvagings,’ extra-legal executions or outright state murders, under his regime had caused the deaths of the best and brightest of the land.”

Pimentel named some of the victims and then proceeded: “There were also scores of nameless people who were executed by the so-called ‘secret marshals’ – 1,000 of them – that Marcos fielded in Metro Manila. The secret marshals were supposed to flush out and do away with bad people as their historical namesakes did in the Wild West saga of American history…. Sadly at that time, we had no adequate redress for them (victims).”

During that dark period, there was no more Congress to speak of, and critical media were silenced. As expected, kleptocracy in government, the likes of which was never seen in this country in the 20th century, followed, consistent with Robert Klitgaard’s formula: Corruption = Monopoly + Discretion – Accountability. Fact is, it shocked the world. 

The country lost from $5 billion to $10 billion as a result of the corruption that went unchecked during the Marcos dictatorship. A fraction of that was recovered, and several Swiss accounts were frozen. Facts.

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The estimates were never figments of the imagination. The thievery has been documented in the courts and by various groups, Philippine and foreign media, and historians who spent time looking into the excesses during that brutal period. It’s in Guinness!

It hurts and nags that we never saw that dictator – that poor excuse of a human being – get tried and convicted. Death was his great escape. 

But his now 92-year-old widow was found guilty. Imelda was meted an 11-year maximum prison sentence for each of seven graft cases filed between 1991 and 1995. She was found by the anti-graft court of diverting more than $200 million in public funds to Swiss foundations she established when she sat as Metro Manila governor, assemblywoman, and human settlements minister. That is not propaganda. That is as factual as the warrant for the arrest of Imelda Marcos issued by the Sandiganbayan is.

When this family fled to Hawaii in 1986, they had with them 23 wooden crates, a dozen suitcases, bags, and boxes of belongings. In them were nearly 500 pieces of jewelry and jewel-studded cufflinks, an ivory statue of the Santo Niño with a silver mantle and a diamond necklace, freshly-printed treasury notes equivalent to $15 million, and 24 gold bars. Official records of the US customs inventory showed this to be true.

Engraved in the bars of solid gold were the words, “To my husband on our 24th anniversary.” If my calculations are correct, Imelda must have given these as a gift to the dictator around 1978. Now, how did she afford such an extravagant and mind-boggling gift? (Imelda’s age won’t erase the fact that she is the gold standard of “Imeldific.”)

These facts are what Marcos Jr. has dismissed as mere political black propaganda. It’s as if the courts, foreign and Philippine media, historians, and all the groups that looked into the excesses during his father’s watch conspired against his family due to political partisanship.

“Where is the money?” he asks. Well, some of that was spent on food which the Marcos children ate.

To say it didn’t happen or to tell Filipinos to move on really leaves a bad taste in the mouth. It’s offensive to those who lost their loved ones and those who survived Marcos’ Martial Law. 

Bongbong Marcos and his ilk are no different from the Holocaust deniers who assert that there was no order to gas Jewish people or that Adolf Hitler had nothing to do with it because he didn’t sign any document to show that it was his policy.

Now what? Now, Junior wants to be president. That’s what. Pastilan. –

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