Briones: The times they are not a–changin’

Publio J. Briones III

WHAT a difference 34 years make. Some 297,840 not so little hours.

To those who were alive and of age on Feb. 25, 1986, it was a memorable day.

Looking back, I wish I was out there with the hundreds of thousands of residents who took to the streets of the capital and bravely faced tanks and soldiers with high-powered firearms armed only with flowers, rosaries and food.

And judging by the photos that were taken during that momentous occasion, it should have been a life-changing experience.

After all, it’s not every day that a government is overthrown without bloodshed. Oh, don’t get me wrong. Somebody did die, but the fatalities were relatively few. Could have been worse had the Marcos regime decided to rain bullets on the protesters.

Wait! Before you accuse me of being a Marcos apologist, I am just stating facts.

The dictator, up to the last minute, could have ordered the military to strike, but he didn’t. Maybe he wanted to, I don’t know, and maybe he would have had the Americans not whisk him and his family away into exile in Hawaii. But I’m not here to second-guess. And anyway, it’s all water under the bridge.

The Marcoses are back. They have been back for quite some time, as if nothing had happened. Marcos Jr. even ran in the last vice presidential election and narrowly lost.

What does that say about our society as a whole? And what does that say about peaceful revolutions?

That we are a forgiving people? Perhaps. Some may say there’s no point in dwelling on the past since you can’t change it anyway. That Filipinos must move on. But how do you say that to someone who lost a loved one during Martial Law and in the years succeeding?

The current administration tried when, in a press release on Feb. 15, 2019, the Department of Foreign Affairs announced that Malacañang was asking the United Nations Working Group “to delist 625 cases of enforced and involuntary disappearances recorded from 1975 to 2012” as part of a “sincere commitment” to implement “a humane approach to development and governance.”

Of course, that didn’t sit well with families of the missing, who found the plan “insulting” and the proposal “smacking of deceit.”

Apparently, some people can forgive, but forgetting is entirely another matter.

As for a revolution to be truly successful, history teaches us that purging any vestiges of the old political order is paramount, but what is more important is to change old attitudes and ways that gave birth to the dictatorship in the first place.