Aquino slams Marcos son, says martial law not PH’s ‘golden age’
President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday did not mince words as he recalled the horrors of martial law and criticized the late dictator’s son.
Aquino, whose parents were symbols of resistance against the dictatorship of the late Ferdinand Marcos, belied claims that the late dictator’s administration ushered in the “golden age” of the Philippines.
“Napapailing na nga lang po ako, dahil may mga nagsasabi raw na ang panahon ni Ginoong Marcos ang siyang golden age ng Pilipinas. Siguro nga, golden days para sa kanya, na matapos na masagad ang dalawang termino bilang Pangulo, na katumbas ng walong taon, gumawa pa siya ng paraan na kumapit sa kapangyarihan,” Aquino said.
(I can’t help but shake my head because there are still those who say that the time of Marcos was the golden age of the Philippines. Perhaps we can call it the golden days of Marcos since after being president for two terms or eight years, he found a way to remain in power.)
“Golden age nga po siguro noon para sa mga crony ni Ginoong Marcos, at sa mga dikit sa kanya,” he said as he enumerated the failures of the Marcos regime.
(It was probably the golden age for Marcos’ cronies and those close to him.)
Aquino said it was rumored that businessmen deliberately kept their companies small, fearful that the regime would find interest in them.
“Golden age din po ng paglaki ng utang ng bansa. Nang magsimula po si Ginoong Marcos sa katungkulan noong taong 1965, nasa P2.4 bilyon ang utang ng pambansang gobyerno; sa pagtatapos ng 1985, dalawang buwan bago siya mapatalsik sa puwesto, nasa P192.2 billion na po ang utang natin,” Aquino added.
(It was also the golden age of our inflated national dept. When Mr. Marcos stepped into power in 1865, the national government’s debt was at P2.4 billion. When 1985 ended, two months after Marcos was kicked out of Malacañang, our debt has reached P192.2 b illion.)
The President further pointed out that the Marcos regime was a golden age for “brain drain” or the exodus of Filipino professionals to the Middle East. He said this is not the case anymore and that his administration marks the start of a “golden age of the return of OFWs (overseas Filipino workers).”
‘Marcoses against Filipino Muslims’
At one point in his speech, the President zeroed in on Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., son of the late dictator and now running for the vice presidency.
He said Marcos’ administration was also the “golden age” for those who abused Filipino Muslims.
“Nauso nga po ang land-grabbing sa Mindanao; ang rehimeng Marcos naman, sa halip na pumanig sa mga pinagsamantalahan, ay tila kinunsinti pa ang mga nanggigipit. Imbes na katarungan ang gawing tugon, o gumawa ng batas para isaayos ang sitwasyon, Philippine Constabulary at Sandatahang Lakas ang itinulak na solusyon,” he explained.
(Land-grabbing became rampant in Mindanao; and the Marcos regime, instead of siding with those who were abused, condoned the oppressors. Instead of letting justice prevail or creating a law to address the situation, it pushed for the Philippine Constabulary and the Armed Forces to solve the problem.)
Aquino, who has less than three months left in his term, connected this to the failure to pass the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law in the Senate. He accused the younger Marcos of blocking the proposed law.
He lamented that while there is already a Framework Agreement and a Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, the BBL has yet to be passed into law.
He said the BBL is a law that will bring justice and peace in Mindanao but it was blocked in Congress.
“Ang BBL, naipit sa Senado sa kumite para sa lokal na gobyerno, na pinamumunuan ni Senador Marcos? ‘Di ba nu’ng pinakahuling araw ng sesyon, tuloy pa rin ang pag-interpellate ni Senador Enrile? At di po ba, itong dalawang apelyido ding ito ang siyang nagtulak ng military solution para sa mga Moro noong panahon ng diktadurya?” he said.
(The BBL was stalled in the Senate committee on local government, chaired by Senator Marcos. And in the last days of session, Senator Juan Ponce Enrile continued to interpellate against it. Aren’t these two surnames the ones who pushed for the military solution against Moros during the dictatorship?)
While Bongbong is the son of the late dictator, Enrile, who is accused of being involved in the pork barrel scam, was Marcos’ defense minister.
Sins of the father
Aquino said while it is true that the sins of the father should not be blamed on the son, the senator has refused to apologize to the victims of martial law.
“‘Yun pong kadugo ng diktador, sa mahabang panahon ay puwede namang sinabing, ‘Nagkamali ang aking ama’ o ‘Nagkamali kami; bigyan n’yo kami ng pagkakataong iwasto ito,’” he said. “Pero isipin na lang po ninyo, ito ang tahasang naging pagsagot niya, ‘I am ready to say sorry if I knew what I have to be sorry for.’ Kung hindi man lang niya makita ang mali sa ginawa ng kanilang pamilya, paano tayo aasang hindi niya ito uulitin?”
(A dictator’s son could have said, “My father was wrong” or “We were wrong; give us a chance to correct this.” But think about this, this was his answer, “I am ready to say sorry if I knew what I have to be sorry for.” If he wasn’t able to see that what their family did was wrong, how could we be sure that he would not repeat it?)
“Ang akin nga, thank you na lang, dahil kahit papaano nagpakatotoo ka sa pagpapakitang handa kang tularan ang iyong ama,” Aquino further said. “Linawin ko na rin lang po: Hindi ito usapin ng Aquino laban sa Marcos; malinaw na malinaw sa akin na laban ito ng tama at mali.”
(Actually, I should say thank you to him, because he was true to himself that he is ready to do what his father did. Let me clarify: this is not an issue of Aquino versus Marcos; it is clear to me that it is a fight of good versus evil.)
Aquino said he still finds it difficult to answer when foreigners ask him if it is true that the Marcoses are still in power.
Marcos’ widow Imelda Marcos is the current congresswoman of the second district of Ilocos Norte while their daughter Imee is the governor of the province.
Aquino said he wonders if the people have forgotten the popular chant against the dictatorship “Tama na, sobra na, palitan na (Enough, that’s too much, replace Marcos).”
He said people should remember that 21 years under the Marcos regime made the Philippines the “Sick Man of Asia.”
During his visit to Nueva Ecija the day before, Aquino narrated his experience during martial law. He said he was only 13 years old when martial law was declared in 1973. “Talaga pong halos bumaligtad ang aming mundo (Our world was overturned),” he said then.
He recalled how his father, former senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., fought the dictatorship instead of allowing himself to be silenced.
“Pitong taon at pitong buwan ikinulong ang aking ama. At nang piliin niya nga pong bumalik sa ating bansa, matapos ang pagkaka-exile sa Boston, siya po, alam po niyo, ay pinaslang,” he said.
(My father was imprisoned for seven years and seven months. And when he decided to return to the country after living in exile in Boston, he was assassinated.)
But before Filipinos of all ages on Thursday, Aquino said his family could still be considered fortunate.
“Kahit papaano, nabisita ko ang aking ama habang nakakulong, at nang siya’y pinaslang, may nailibing kami at may puntod kaming mapupuntahan. Ang iba po, hindi kasingpalad namin,” he said, explaining that there were those who suffered worse.
(I was able to visit my father when he was in prison and when he was killed, we were able to retrieve his body for burial and he has a grave where we can visit him. Others were not as fortunate.) IDL
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