Arroyo's been unable to crown her efforts with Marcos' piece de resistance, Martial Law and the assumption of dictatorial powers. Her critics shouldn't rule this out yet, given the uncertainty of the May 10 election's outcome. Gloria Arroyo has shown a stubborn, crude will to power that ought to make Filipinos wary of her.
And she can draw encouragement from the apparent apathy the public has shown the parade of spectacular graft scandals, selfish misgovernance and outright massacre that has highlighted her term. A similar passivity sustained Marcos in his 16-year dictatorship, causing one US diplomat to scathingly describe the Philippines then as "a nation of 40 million cowards and one son of a bitch."
In 1986, an outraged citizenry finally found its courage and threw the crooks out, but nearly a quarter of a century after People Power the Marcoses are very much unfinished business. They will remain so unless FIlipinos resolve two issues.
One is the frequently voiced admonition that the sins of the father shouldn't be visited on the children. Adherents of this idea say they don't see anything objectionable to the Marcos family "reconciling" with the Aquinos. No hard feelings. Even Left candidate Satur Ocampo, a human rights victim of Ferdinand Marcos, has this epic rationalization why he happens to be now running for senator in the same party as Bongbong: "We are not collecting from the son."
But the Marcoses are a crime family: both the children AND the parents took part in the the larceny. Now, the children strut around living off their ill-gotten swag, singularly free of inconvenient things such as guilt, remorse or contrition. It's easy to guess that among the priorities Bongbong will bring to the senate if he wins will be legislation to whitewash his father and let his family keep its booty.
For the Aquinos to proffer a hand of friendship to this bandit gang would send a terrible message. For his part, Ocampo should know better than to say what he did. But he's trying to justify the Left's current and cynical sleeping arrangements with the traditional politicians it regularly reviles.
Which brings up the second issue, the perverted political ethic of the country's elite. The Marcoses are the worst criminals in this country's history. Notionally, the priority of any government should be to make an example of them, bring them low, strip them of their looted wealth and send them to prison. But rather than revile and shun the Marcoses, most politicians now treat them as if they were just any other political family.
|Just another day in Philippine politics|
Presidential candidate Manny Villar didn't hesitate to draft Bongbong Marcos into his motley Nacionalista Party. Villar's vice presidential candidate Loren Legarda even rushed to visit Imelda and give her a big ole hug. What's a few outrageous crimes, involving murder and total abuse of power, between friends, right? It's still business as usual among the elites.
It would seem only the Swiss and American justice systems, which have repeatedly decided against the Marcoses, are capable of recognizing them for what they are: criminals.
Are some crimes so colossal the public simply shuts them out? Have Filipinos been battered so much by injustice that they're dazed and senseless? The Marcos dictatorship was an evil blight on the country's history. That the Marcoses are walking free of prison chains, the fact their cronies are flourishing, testify that in this country crime not only pays, it earns interest.
Corruption and impunity will make sure that, 20 years down the road, the perpetrators of the Ampatuan Massacre will be viewed with fond amusement, their crime possibly reduced to a "traffic altercation."
Also, with the Marcoses back in full bloom, we should start looking to the possibility of President Ferdinand Marcos II.
As one Hungarian writer recently said: "Freedom includes the freedom not to want to learn,"