Election season is well and truly upon us. And compared to elections past, this one promises to be a first, in so many ways. Or a second, depending on which side of the political fence you may be facing.
Let’s start with the SECOND. The second coming of a Marcos, to be more precise.
For whatever reason, Filipinos have a short collective memory. It has only been 35 years give or take since the first and only (and hopefully it stays that way) dictatorship the Philippines has ever experienced was toppled. TOPPLED, yes let’s not forget that. It’s not like the late Ferdinand Marcos just decided to call it quits and ride quietly into the sunset. Nope, he was literally dragged -- kicking and screaming -- from his bed in Malacañang, to an ignominious exile in far-away Hawaii, which he -- in his own telling -- mistook for a trip in the night, aboard an American military cargo plane, to Paoay. His erstwhile American enablers gave him no choice -- cut and cut cleanly, they made it clear. If he did not step down, there would be consequences. And consequences there were too, in the form of the popular revolt now iconically known throughout the world as “People Power,” the uprising that gave inspiration to so many other countries with iron-fisted dictators like Marcos to topple their own rulers too.
And now, his son wants to come back to power. As president of the country, no less. And many of us are egging him on, conveniently forgetting that he was part of that sad past known as Martial Law.
His supporters say that the sins of the father should not be blamed on the son. But when the son was already a grown man (he was 29 years old when his father was unceremoniously thrown out of the country) when his father ruled, that argument hardly holds water. He was no infant then. He enjoyed all the trappings of power that his father’s rule allowed their family to have. So by participation, he was equally at fault, and not free from any of the blame.
Then too, he should not be able to have his cake and eat it too.
Let’s not forget, he is running because he is a Marcos. If his name was anything else but, no one would even think of voting for him as president, given his record as a legislator, and just his qualifications as a person. So he wants to use his name to propel him to the country’s top post, and yet he wants to be absolved from all the baggage that the name carries with it? Hey, he can’t have it both ways, surely?
But he is just that. He wants to have things both ways.
Take his educational credentials, for example. One of his crowning achievements, supposedly, is having gone to Oxford University in the UK for his education. And yet, Oxford denies that he ever obtained a degree from the institution. And so his supporters come to his rescue again. They say education is not what’s important, it is his sincerity and his will to serve that matters. So Bongbong should not be judged inferior just because he did not graduate from Oxford, after all.
Well, it’s hard to argue with that. After all, his father had all the educational qualifications, and look where that got him. Instead of leading the Philippines as potentially Asia’s strongest economy (we were already poised to be that before he took office), he ended up ruining the country to the ground, something we have not completely recovered from yet until today.
But, if education were not really that important, why did he have to lie about his Oxford qualifications, until he was found out, and education became unimportant? Isn’t it just another case of wanting to have it both ways, just like he is wanting to capitalize on the Marcos name, but refusing to carry any of its unwanted baggage?
He is a Marcos, after all, and throughout their reign and all through today, all they have ever been good at is revising history and trying to present their version of the story. Whether he will succeed in whitewashing his name and his legacy this time around will be up to us.