TagBongbong Marcos

‘He said….’ ‘They said….’

‘He said….’ ‘They said….’” was first published in the Philippine Star on March 18, 2016

“Let us leave history to the professors,” said Sen. Bongbong Marcos, dismissing calls for him to apologize for the crimes committed during the Marcos Martial Law regime. The Ateneo de Manila University (ADMU) faculty responded, denouncing Bongbong’s “willful distortion of our history” by the attempt to “whitewash the Marcos regime’s wanton violation of human rights and to distort its political-economic record.”

Bongbong Marcos was equally dismissive of this response: “they have the right to their opinion. We’ll agree to disagree.” With this rejoinder, Bongbong picked up more people with whom to disagree. The presidents of the five Jesuit universities in the country signed the ADMU faculty statement. The Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP), consisting of over 1250 institutions, also adopted the statement as its own.

It is the case of sexual assaults that often prompts the classic “he said, she said” controversies. These crimes usually happen behind closed doors, in secluded areas, without witnesses. Investigators are confronted by conflicting versions of the event, with one party claiming a consensual encounter and another alleging the use of violence.

The rape of a person ordinarily happens in private. But in the 20th century, the rape of a country (which does include the rape and murder of persons), especially when perpetrated over an extended period, can no longer happen in secret.

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Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

A Gall Meter

A Gall Meter” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on March 5, 2016 (Pilipino version: “Sukatan ng tapang ng apog“)

Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte sharply rebuffed the idea that presidential candidates should disclose their medical condition: “I won’t reveal my medical records. Ano ako, tanga (Am I stupid)?

Whatever malady Duterte may be suffering from, it is unlikely to be hoof-in-mouth disease. His comments, however provocative, do not appear to come from slip of tongue or mind; they seem intentionally spoken for effect.

Duterte’s response implied that voters were tanga to expect him to reveal any infirmity. But he has discovered that such comments do not invite censure; they attract amusement, media coverage, and free advertising. His approach is not likely to change. Behavior that is rewarded tends to be repeated.

Duterte is not alone in scattering sound bites that insult the electorate. With weeks of campaigning to endure, we can expect more outrageous comments directly from candidates or exposed by their critics. I propose a Gall Meter to rate which candidates produce the most galling statements that provoke among the public the sharpest spike in blood pressure or acid reflux pain.

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Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

Marcos: Dead, not gone

Marcos: Dead, not gone” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Nov. 28, 2015 (Pilipino version: “Marcos: Patay na’y natiro pa“)

Past is past, Bongbong says of dark Marcos years.” This Inquirer headline (10/22/15) recalls novelist William Faulkner’s oft-quoted statement: “The past is not dead. It is not even past.”

The announcement early this week by Christie’s, the jewelry auction house, illustrated Faulkner’s point. Christie’s discovered that an item described as “loose crystal” among over 700 pieces of jewelry left behind by the Marcoses in their flight to Hawaii was actually an “extremely rare” pink diamond believed to belong to a Mogul emperor. The entire Marcos jewelry collection was initially valued in 1991 at between $5 million and $8 million. Christie’s estimated the Mogul diamond alone as worth $5 million.

This reminder of martial law plunder rebuts Sen. Bongbong Marcos’ insistence that Filipinos should just leave the Marcos legacy to discussions among “historical analysts.” Current concerns, such as the deterioration of the educational system, domestic insurgencies, and impunity, have deep roots in the Marcos past. Historians will study the past to illuminate the problems of the present and the options for the future.

US President Barack Obama used the Faulkner quote to remind Americans that the current crises in the black community can be traced back to inequalities suffered by earlier generations under the brutal legacy of slavery. The current violence in the United States arising from race relations cannot be understood or effectively addressed without understanding its historical context. The history of human rights violations during the Marcos regime is not of the same scale and duration as those suffered by the American black community. But it requires the same comprehension of context.

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Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

The luck of Bongbong Marcos

The luck of Bongbong Marcos” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Oct. 17, 2015 (Pilipino version: “Ang Suerte ni Bongbong Marcos“)

“I am the luckiest person that I know and being a Marcos is part of that and I am very happy that I was born into the Marcos family,” said Bongbong Marcos.

Obvious ba? Did Bongbong really have to rub this in?

When he was born in 1957, his father, Ferdinand Marcos, was already completing a third term in Congress. Two years later, Ferdinand won a seat in the Senate, from where he launched two successful presidential campaigns. Faced with term limits, he then imposed a martial law regime that enabled him to retain supreme power for another 14 years. There were few disadvantages for the only son of the Philippines’ most powerful politician.

It was not Bongbong’s fault to be born to wealth and power, and it is an act of virtue to express gratitude for the benefits received from parents. But his filial piety becomes suspect when he suggests that the blessings he enjoyed also spread to the rest of the population. It becomes delusional when he asserts that Ferdinand was the best leader the country has ever had.

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Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

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