Wenceslao: Never again?

·2 min read

We are in August, that month of the year when we recall the heroism of former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., the man who was shot at the tarmac of the airport that now bears his name. History is written by the victors, so they say, and there are now efforts to rename the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to Ferdinand Marcos International Airport.

After a while, the Marcoses are back in Malacañang, with the dictator’s namesake, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., now our president. Meaning that the rightists are back at the helm and temporarily owning the bragging rights, sort of. They can do what they want and the liberal democrats could only mount a whimper. That’s for now because change is a wind that blows hither and thither.

It is now the Marcoses’ time again. Corazon Aquino is dead. Benigno Aquino III is dead. Kris Aquino is sickly. Her sisters are apolitical. Rightists are dominating the political landscape starting with the ascendancy of Rodrigo Duterte.

The liberal democrats need a new and charismatic leader. Leni Robredo inherited a bit of the Cory Aquino charisma. But she needs to fully take the lead if the liberal democrats want to regain their form. She needs to be aggressive. Or should we wait for another leader to take centerstage?

The new president and to a certain extent the vice president are embarking on an effort to rewrite history. Being the winners in the last elections and having assembled a corps to do their bidding, they could try. But reshaping history can’t be done with a magic wand. Ninoy Aquino was killed by minions of the Marcos regime on Aug. 21, 1983. That truth is difficult to undo.

What the Marcoses are trying to do now is to obfuscate the truth and put in motion their own spin on what had happened. Some rightists made a fuss about the failure of the Aquinos to prove the guilt of the Marcoses regarding Ninoy’s death. I say they should instead be grateful that the Aquinos are not ruthless rightists. Or they could have hanged anyone with even a bit of a link to the assassination.

The Marcoses should be thankful that the Aquinos and those who succeeded them were liberal democrats bent on restoring the pre-martial law setup that Ferdinand Sr. destroyed. Had the Aquinos and their successors been a ruthless bunch, the Marcoses would still have been scattered abroad and in hiding.

So this month, liberal democrats should look back and learn the lessons of the past, notably in dealing with dictators. They sought to restore the status quo ante, tried leniency when being iron-handed was required. They ended up allowing the return of the ills they detested from the start.

“Never again” has become a hollow mantra.

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