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Political Dynasties in the Philippines: In My Opinion

Next year’s Philippine midterm elections are fast approaching and it paints an all too-familiar image once again: candidates that are ei...



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JR Lopez Gonzales 12:10 AM 0

President Ferdinand Marcos had the intellect, the leadership skills, and the opportunity to be the greatest president of the Philippines in the 20th century. In fact, on his first two years as president, he was able to build 17,000 classrooms (compared to Pres. Diosdado Macapagal’s 500). The Maharlika highway was created at his time; same as the mighty San Juanico Bridge. He definitely made some feats unparalleled by any other presidents before him.

The authoritarian Marcos proclaimed Martial Law on the whole islands.
But sad to say, his regime left an impact that was ruinous for the economy, the society, and the political institutions of his country. The lost opportunity of economic growth and social prosperity stunted an entire generation and left the Philippines far less competitive than many of its neighbors in Southeast Asia, where spectacular economic growth became the trend.

Thirty-eight years after its imposition and 23 years after our liberation from the dictatorship, our country is still haunted by the Marcos’ specter. Because of these ills that we’ve experienced when the Pandora’s box was opened, it was I think the reason why many of us fail to appreciate and in turn, despise any “authoritarian tendencies” of our leaders these days. Many of us fail to understand the strong leadership styles of Bayani Fernando, Senator Dick Gordon, Alfredo Lim, or Mayor Rudy Duterte. The masses (and the media) immediately equate authoritarian rule with Marcos, Hitler, brutality, and other dark hues to the authoritarian concept.
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But setting side these factors aside, according to Professor Winnie Monsod, Martial Law Legacy left us with three significant learning. First is the martial law’s legacy of “world-class” corruption. His authoritarian regime is remembered for its rampant corruption at the highest levels of government and its suppression of political dissent and the democratic process.

On the list compiled by Transparency International in 2004, Ferdinand Marcos ranked second only to Indonesia’s Mohamad Suharto in the “World Ten Most Corrupt Leaders”. Marcos was one-rank shy because Suharto reigned for 31 years while his was 14 years. The Indonesian president amassed $15-35 billion while ours accumulated a wealth of $5-10 billion.

And oh well, just for an additional information, do you still remember former President Erap Estrada? He ranked tenth with wealth amounting to $78-80 million. Basing on the list made by Transparency International, it makes us the only country with two leaders on the list of most corrupt leaders. Come to think of it, Estrada nearly won the presidential seat finishing second in the 2010 Presidential race. Ambot na lang.

Next is the “politicization of the military”. There were lots of appointed military officers to civil posts. Even with military officials still on active duty, these people authorized encroachment to the Filipino civil life.

According to the feature of the Asian Political News (August 26, 2003) on the “Number of Retired Military Appointment per Administration”; we can infer these pieces of information:
  • Corazon C. Aquino – Appointed 22 officials
  • Fidel V. Ramos – Appointed more than 100 officials
  • Joseph E. Estrada – Appointed 18 officials
  • Gloria M. Arroyo – Appointed 80 to 100 officials
And lastly, the human rights violations that has not still achieved closure up to now. Here’s the information gathered by Alfred McCoy’s book, “Dark Legacy: Human Rights under the Marcos Regime”:
  • Incarcerated: 70,000 people
  • Extrajudicial Killings: 3,257 people
  • Tortured: 35,000 people
  • Disappeared (between 1975 and 1985) – 737 people
An American court tried Marcos in Hawaii, and after the verdict, he was to pay the victims 10,000 individually. Even with $1.9 billion exemplary damages and $624 million Swiss Bank account, no bill has been created yet from the legislative for the compensation of the victims.

Victims should be addressed properly and I believe the Marcoses still have to pay for the injury they have done on their heydays. On the other hand, after 38 years, we have to move on and lessons must be distilled and drawn from this dark period so that if it reemerges the entire Filipino nation would know how best to respond to it.

The 1987 Constitution of the Philippines, for the obvious fear of the martial law from happening again, added enough safeguards and adamant oppositions for its proclamation. This is clearly stated in Sec. 8; Article VII of the Constitution:

The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.

The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call.

The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.

A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in, or directly connected with, invasion.

During the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.

The lessons of martial law in the Philippines are clear. Martial law has a minute hope of happening again. That's for sure.

For the Legacy and Effects of Martial Law, please click here.

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