- RECONCILIATION. The Marcoses hadn't even been gone a month when pseudo religious allies of Cory Aquino started clamoring for "reconciliation." They forced a halt to the airing of anti-Marcos propaganda, as well as videos detailing the Marcos' crimes. This eagerness to reconcile amazed the Marcos stooges and cronies who hadn't succeeded in fleeing the country and had gone into hiding, cowering with fear. At first they reacted with suspicion, then when they realized the new government really was that, er, thick, they came out in the open, started swaggering and in a matter of months, Marcos' allies had reconstituted themselves into a political party. Within a few years, Imelda had flown back from exile and the biggest cronies had reasserted their hold on their ill-gotten wealth. The revolutionary government also failed to create a Truth Commission which would have brought out the crimes and barbarities committed by the military and police during Martial Law. Instead these were covered up. Officers involved in tortures and, later, murderous coup attempts, escaped justice and went on to become senators and congressmen. When you offer to reconcile with crocodiles, make sure you remove their teeth first.
- JUSTICE. In 1986 the Philippine revolutionary government, enthusiastically supported by the public, could have used its powers to go after notorious Martial Law butchers, torturers and thieves and make drastic examples of them. Instead it chose to follow "due process" within the political context of a country that was busy restoring cacique power. In short order it became "business as usual." The government created a special body to track and recover the Marcos' ill-gotten wealth. The Marcoses and their cronies were charged with multiple counts of human rights violations. Despite mountains of evidence, and hundreds of filings, the cases bogged down in decadesof litigation. The Philippine government decided to sue the Marcos couple in the US, and lost, partly because the Swiss banks declined to cooperate in revealing the dictator's stashed wealth. In a local case, the one time that Imelda Marcos looked like she was going to jail, the Supreme Court let her off the hook, allegedly because of her age. Nobody has been punished for the crimes of the 14-year Marcos dictatorship. To show how far things have deteriorated: in 2010 one commissioner of the body supposed to be running after the Marcos loot suddenly warbled that the Marcoses were extremely wealthy and would only share their riches with friends, so it was better to be friends with them. Looking back, it would have been better if the revolutionary government had shown it meant business by immediately seizing and punishing a few big fish without having to wait for the traditional, corrupt justice system to wheeze into action.
- REMEMBRANCE. Filipinos born the year Marcos was chased out of the country are now 25 years old. Very few of them -- and the ones born after them -- know the specific crimes committed by the dictator, or the reign of fear and oppression he created. The revolutionary government
Typical traditional diehard Marcos loyalist (drool edited out)
forgot, or wasn't strong enough, to put the long, long list of crimes of the Marcoses in the schoolbooks and the history books. The consequence is that the ranks of old, traditional diehard Marcos loyalists have now been bolstered by thousands of young Filipinos who believe the Marcoses are not only innocent, but they're also cool. Never having lived under a regime where anyone could be arbitrarily picked up, imprisoned in a secret cell in a military camp, tortured, and sometimes murdered -- in fact, quite unable to imagine it -- a generation of Filipinos is now ready to believe Marcosian lies. For example, according to Marcos junior: "Some of these people that are claiming they are human rights victims have never been victims of anything except their own greed." It's an uninformed generation that will support Marcos junior's political ambitions. The lesson: don't erase the tyrant from memory, far from it: make sure the dictator's crimes and infamy live on in schoolbooks and lessons.
- DISMANTLING. Every dictatorship is sustained by a political machine composed of flunkies, sycophants, clients, bureaucrats, civil servants. The older the dictatorship the deeper this machine goes into society. You don't have to fire and replace every member but at least make sure you take down the bits that will perpetuate the dictator's memory and facilitate a comeback. In our case the government failed to reform the educational system and instruct teachers: Marcos martial law propaganda in the schools went unanswered. A generation of schoolchildren grew up ignorant of the republic's blackest period. The judiciary was largely left alone, it would have been better if most judges had been fired or retired. As it was, the tainted justice system helped sustain victory after victory of the Marcoses and their cronies. Also, the government sat apathetically as the Marcos family brought home the remains of the dictator, and insisted the cadaver would stay above ground on display in a museum until space is made for it in the National Heroes' Cemetery. The gruesome corpse of Marcos is a malodorous, fetid reminder of just how unfinished the 1986 uprising is.