Lawmakers on Monday slammed former Trade Minister Roberto V. Ongpin for his purported attempt to rewrite Philippine history and paint the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, his family and his cronies in a better light.
“Good Lord! More revisionism?” said Sen. Serge Osmeña, who instigated a Senate blue ribbon committee probe on Ongpin for alleged insider trading of Philex Mining Corp. shares, profiting from a behest loan granted by Development Bank of the Philippines in 2009 and acting as a front for former first gentleman Jose Miguel Arroyo.
“These are matters of history. It’s amazing that Ongpin is making these claims only now,” said Speaker Feliciano Belmonte Jr.
In an interview last week with the Inquirer, Ongpin said: “With the election, a lot of people felt that he (Marcos) lost. You know, he won. In my view, he really won.”
“This is a case of historical revisionism. An insult to the heroism of thousands of Filipinos who fought for the ouster of Marcos. A reminder to be vigilant against Marcos apologists who want to rewrite history and justify the crimes of the past,” said Kabataan Rep. Raymond Palatino.
Belmonte found it strange that Ongpin would follow Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile’s lead in trying to revise history.
“What about the claim that there was really an ambush prior to proclamation? It’s a different tune from before,” Belmonte said, recalling Enrile’s claim during the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution that Cory was the real winner in the snap election that month and that his ambush, which led to the proclamation of martial law in 1972, was staged.
Binondo Central Bank
Osmeña also blasted Ongpin for his alleged attempt to window-dress his brainchild, Binondo Central Bank, which controlled the black market for dollars amid the flight of capital and refusal of exporters to bring their dollars back home following the assassination of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. in August 1983.
“Nothing noble about the use of police powers to suspend the law of supply and demand to cover up the plunder and gross mismanagement of the economy and keep the Filipino people in ignorance and misery,” Osmeña said.
In the interview with the Inquirer, Ongpin said that the Aquino assassination ignited massive withdrawals of short-term dollar placements and required extraordinary measures to avert hyperinflation similar to those experienced by economies torn by wars and civil strife. Foreign currency traders in Manila’s Chinatown were having a field day, steadily debasing the peso.
“The country was headed for a runaway inflation, like Argentina. We were right there on the brink. I told Marcos the only way, if you want me to do it, is to get these guys and put the fear of God in them and tell them you’d better do it. And they did. It was horrible,” Ongpin said.
“The whole concept was discipline. We had no money to defend the peso. The only thing we had was moral suasion, or immoral suasion,” Ongpin said. “The traders were using their money. The treasury was bankrupt. I had the President sign arrest and seizure orders for each of the black marketers.”
‘Still doesn’t get it’
“Almost three decades on and he still doesn’t get it. The results of the snap election are irrelevant. No rigged and thoroughly corrupted polls could confer legitimacy on Marcos. The people had had enough of the dictatorship, so the people kicked them out,” said ACT Rep. Antonio Tinio.
“Ongpin’s revisionism highlights the urgent need for a thoroughgoing review of how the history of the martial law period is written, discussed in public and taught in our schools. In Germany, no one can speak favorably about the Hitler period without being called to account. It should be the same here regarding the Marcos era,” Tinio said.
“[Ongpin] claims to have saved the country from a crippling economic crisis that was largely brought about by him and his ilk to begin with? The staggering foreign debt, corruption-riddled white elephant projects and crony monopolies?” he said.
Sen. Teofisto Guingona III said: “We should have an historical account of the 20 years of Marcos misrule and make it part of our educational curriculum.”
Guingona said historians with “firsthand” experience with martial law should be tapped to write this chapter of the country’s history.
“I remember reading the column of Ambeth Ocampo (of the Inquirer) that Raul Roco, when he was secretary of education, was talking to him about it. He would have been commissioned by the Department of Education to write about those 20 years of Marcos rule. Unfortunately, it did not push through,” Guingona said.