Colmenares: Infrastructure does not justify voting another Hitler

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FILE PHOTO: A protester holds a placard that says
FILE PHOTO: A protester holds a placard that says "Marcos Hitler Dictator" during a protest at Luneta park, Metro Manila, Philippines November 25, 2016, denouncing the burial of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' cemetery). REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

During the TAPATan Media Forum organized by 1Sambayan on January 13, the speakers were asked how to change the minds of people who argue that the Marcoses have done a lot for the country during the dictatorship. Senate aspirant Neri Colmenares likened Ferdinand Marcos Sr. to war criminal Adolf Hitler.

The question was worded as such: “How will we convince those who believe that it's okay to vote another Marcos because marami namang nagawa? Lahat naman nagnakaw, pero at least sila maraming napagawa tulad ng Heart Center, Lung Center, at iba pa. (How will we convince those who believe that it’s okay to vote for another Marcos because they have done a lot? Many have stolen, but at least they established the Heart Center, Lung Center, among others.)”

To which Atty. Colmenares responded by comparing Marcos Sr. to Hitler, saying that the projects done under the dictatorship do not justify electing another of his kind.

Si Hitler, may ginawa ba? May ginawa naman sigurong building 'yan, may ginawa naman sigurong ospital 'yan si Hitler, pero it doesn't justify na mag-elect ka ulit bagong Hitler just because may ginawa syang ospital (Did Hitler do anything productive? I am sure he established buildings, I am sure he built hospitals, but it doesn’t justify electing another HItler just because he built hospitals),” he said.

This comes after former Associate Justice Antonio Carpio answered that the infrastructure projects under the Marcos regime were funded by onerous debts from the World Bank.

Yung ginawa nilang infrastructure, lahat 'yon inutang. So umutang sila from foreign banks, from World Bank, ninakaw yung utang, nagtayo sila ng infrastructure, iniwan yung pagbayad ng utang sa Filipino people (The infrastructure they built was all funded by debt. They borrowed from foreign banks, from the World Bank, then stole the money, built the infrastructure, then left the Filipinos to pay for it),” Carpio said.

“20 years after Marcos left we were still paying the debts, yun ba ang gusto natin? Of course may mga nagawa sila pero saan nila kinuha yung pera panggawa ng mga infrastructure na 'yun? Utang. Yung utang, kinaltasan nila sa mga kontrata (20 years after Marcos left we were still paying the debts, is that what we want? Of course they did things, but where did they get the money for the infrastructure? Loans which paid for contract kickbacks),” the former associate justice said.

Carpio cited the Westinghouse Nuclear Plant (more commonly known as the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant) as an example of one of the projects the Marcoses benefited from.

Colmenares explained how the construction of the Cultural Center of the Philippines was detached from the social realities of Filipinos back then.

Nung panahon ng gutom, nagpatayo ng Cultural Center. Siguro naman okay namang mapanood yung mga nagba-ballet na galing sa Russia, o kaya mapakinggan yung mga sikat na piyanista sa Cultural Center, pero 'yan ang problema natin – nangutang ka nang nangutang tapos Culture Center ipapatayo mo? Gutom ang problema noon (When people were hungry, they built the Cultural Center. I’m sure it’s fine to watch ballet performers from Russia or even listen to famous pianists there, but that’s the thing – they borrowed and borrowed while people were going hungry, then they’re building a cultural center?)”

The senatorial aspirant concluded by elaborating his original point – that projects do not justify the stealing the Marcoses did.

Sa akin hindi yan dahilan. Otherwise, ang mangyari dyan, i-encourage natin lahat ng public official na magnakaw sila nang magnakaw basta gumawa ka rin ng clinic. Basta gumawa ka rin ng ospital. Hindi pwede 'yon (For me that’s not a valid reason. Otherwise, what would happen is that we’re telling public officials that it’s okay to steal for as long as you build a clinic. It’s okay to steal for as long you build a hospital. That shouldn’t be),” he said.

Mark Ernest Famatigan is a news writer who focuses on Philippine politics. He is an advocate for press freedom and regularly follows developments in the Philippine economy. The views expressed are his own.

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