Ex-prime minister cites Marcos accomplishments
Former Prime Minister Cesar Virata on Monday praised the accomplishments of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos as the strongman’s family led supporters in celebrating his 100th birth anniversary.
The Philippine Army said that, despite the rain, 1,000 people showed up at the private, heavily guarded celebration at
Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.
The Inquirer estimated the number of guests at between 400 and 500, going by the number of vehicles parked along the streets around the tomb of Marcos in the cemetery, where other Philippine presidents — Elpidio Quirino, Diosdado Macapagal and Carlos P. Garcia — are also buried.
Former first lady Imelda Marcos and her three children presided over the event as survivors of martial law abuses under Marcos, human rights campaigners and prodemocracy activists protested the celebration as an attempt at “political rehabilitation” for the dictator’s family.
The Army, which has jurisdiction over the cemetery, said the event was peaceful.
Chief Supt. Tomas Apolinario, Southern Police District chief, said 300 officers and 100 soldiers were deployed to ensure public order.
The press was not allowed to cover the event.
Among the guests were Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada, former Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, Virata and members of the House of Representatives invited by Imelda Marcos, who represents the second district of Ilocos Norte in Congress.
Also in attendance were former Dulaang UP artistic director Alex Cortez and singer Dulce, who led the guests in singing the anthem of the Marcos regime, “Bagong Lipunan.”
Speaking at the celebration, Virata extolled Marcos as a “man of many achievements” and lamented the lack of balance in the media’s reporting on the dictator’s accomplishments.
“What I see now is that there is no balance in the reporting of the accomplishments of President Marcos. All those who were adversely affected by the discipline and enforcement of martial law are the ones that are usually in the newspapers. And they continue to take over what should be reported as the accomplishments,” he said.
In public works alone, Virata said, Marcos held a “record” in constructing roads and bridges unequaled by succeeding administrations.
Taking a swipe at the Metro Rail Transit 3 project, which was initiated by the first Aquino administration but was built under the Ramos administration, Virata said some of the trains of the Light Rail Transit 1, built under Marcos, were “still in operation.”
He enumerated Marcos’ programs—including health, education and agriculture—and praised the dictator for standing up to the United States by refusing to send troops to fight in the Vietnam war and cutting down the US lease on Clark Air Base and Subic Naval Base to 25 years.
Virata also noted that Marcos fought corruption, as it was during his rule that the Tanodbayan—the predecessor of the Office of the Ombudsman—was formed.
Marcos is accused of embezzling up to $10 billion from the national coffers, some of which, according to President Duterte, the dictator’s heirs want to return.
The victims of martial law, the Catholic Church and lawmakers, however, said returning even all of the loot was not enough—the Marcoses should also be made to account for their abuses during their days in power.
Former Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. thanked his father’s supporters and his family’s friends for coming to the celebration.
Marcos said his father’s memory remained alive and strong and his place in the Philippines’ history was “still being written.” —With a report from AP
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.