POSTSCRIPT / February 25, 1999 / Thursday

By FEDERICO D. PASCUAL JR.

Philippine STAR Columnist

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Marcoses are back. So why rejoice over EDSA?

THIRTEEN years ago today, the Filipino people rejoiced with the good news that the tottering dictator has fallen, finally, and fled to where he could no longer do us harm.

On February 25, 1986, a seriously ill Ferdinand Marcos was roused from his sickbed in the Palace, and hustled onto a waiting US helicopter that flew him and his family to Clark Field for the long flight to exile in Hawaii.

But it was just a temporary setback for the Marcoses. Cory Aquino and the jubilant masses that thrust her to power failed to follow through and pursue the cleansing of this nation to its logical conclusion.

The Marcoses, with their supporting cast of cronies and operators, are back. Taking shelter in the friendly administration of President Estrada, they have found their voice again and started to inflict their insulting presence on us. It’s now like they never left.

So why are we celebrating the EDSA Revolt? Shouldn’t we be mourning instead?

* * *

THE fallen dictator’s son, Gov. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. (has he dropped the title Ferdinand II and their royal pretensions?), is now saying that the torture victims of his father just want money, not apology, from the Marcos family.

That’s literally, and arrogantly, adding insult to injury.

Bongbong obviously thinks that everybody thinks, plots and acts like the Marcoses, that the ultimate motivation of human conduct is money. Bongbong displayed the same arrogance that had been the hallmark of the despised dictatorship.

* * *

BUT Bongbong made some significant observations:

  1. “Basta’t may pagasang magkapera, nag-aawayaway sila.” (As long as there’s a possibility of making money, they [torture victims] would fight among themselves.)
  2. “There was no (EDSA) Revolution. A revolution is a change in social order. But the poor remain poor. Nothing has changed.”

His first point, that “they” fight over money, has a disturbing ring. Money, specifically the lack of it, seems to bring out the worst in some of us.

* * *

EVEN the lawyers handling or wanting to handle the torture cases have been heard debating over legal fees that run into millions in dollars.

When the victims themselves are asked how they want to be paid, their responses vary. There are some individuals who want just a partial payment now, while others want to hold out.

Bongbong must have seen how some people around his father fought over turf and money. He must have seen also how easily his father was able to manipulate the poor by taking advantage of their poverty.

So now, he presumes that that’s exactly what is happening. Or he might just be articulating what he would like to see happen to the 10,000 or so torture victims of martial rule.

* * *

ON his second point that nothing has changed since 1985, he is right to some extent, particularly insofar as the dictator’s coterie has bounced back to reclaim its old privileged place in society and government.

One item that Bongbong cited to show that nothing has changed is that the poor are still poor.

Picking up the matter of poverty, President Estrada made it the central point of his EDSA thesis. He simplified the Revolution as the uprising of the poor to break the chains of their poverty.

To Mr. Estrada, the universe – and that includes his ad hoc program of government — revolves around poverty.

Having been on the other (Marcos) side that fateful February years ago, Mr. Estrada’s interpretation of the EDSA phenomenon is a bit fuzzy. We hope he is not deliberately twisting EDSA and leading it away from the original spirit that moved it.

* * *

THOUSANDS flocked to EDSA in 1986, mainly on the prodding of Jaime Cardinal Sin and Ninoy Aquino’s brother Butz, not because they were poor and they wanted to join an uprising of and for the poor.

They came in droves and linked up on EDSA, regardless of economic status, because they had had enough of the Marcoses and wanted to kick their tormentors out.

In fact, a significant number of the crowd were from the middle class, that small group that usually prefers to stay in the comfort of home than stick its neck out, unless faced with a problem that would drastically alter the lives of people around them.

* * *

FORMER President Ramos, one of the genuine heroes of EDSA, was nearer the mark, lashing out at the “forces of arrogance, oppression and indifference” that were supposed to have been banished by the EDSA Revolt but are still around.

He did not name the Marcoses, but he was obviously referring to them, among a few others, who he said are “enjoying a new-found respectability.”

Ramos urged the people to “remember the truth, to recover our senses, to reject falsehood and to rededicate ourselves to what we fought for: freedom from the rule of one man, one family and one coterie of cronies….”

* * *

BONGBONG took time to deny having known of the secret gold deposits of his father that were mentioned by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile, former defense secretary of the late dictator.

Casting doubt on the story of Enrile, Bongbong said that he was beside his ailing father when Enrile visited his former boss in exile. But there was no reason for Enrile to invent that story, while Bongbong had every reason to feign ignorance.

We remember running a story at that time precisely on a statement of Marcos in Hawaii saying that, indeed, he had a huge gold hoard. We remember that he said he had entrusted only to his son Bongbong the information on the location of the gold.

We even remarked that we found it significant that the dying dictator gave the information to his son and not to his wife Imelda.

We wrote a column item then saying that the revelation would place Bongbong’s life in jeopardy, since he holds the map, so to speak, leading to the treasure.

* * *

HIS own daughter is calling President Estrada vulgar. If the President knows what’s good for him and his extended family, he should not wait for Josephine Rose Ejercito to call on him as he had suggested.

Mr. Estrada should set immediately a private meeting with JR and her mother and cut short the speculation on the paternity question.

JR, an articulate beauty queen, reacted to her father’s pa-macho remark that many women want to get pregnant by him. Answering question if JR was indeed his daughter, Mr. Estrada said, “Eh kung anak, ano’ng masama roon? Kung ako ang kini-claim niyang tatay, okey lang. Maraming nagpapapaanak sa akin, eh.”

Mr. Estrada seemed to have wanted to convey the impression that JR’s mother threw herself at him and asked him to give her a baby.

Some other time, Mr. Estrada also said something about asking JR’s mother if she was sure because, according to him, there were other men in her life.

JR was understandably riled by these innuendoes of Mr. Estrada. She had to come to the defense of her mother, Rose Dungca.

* * *

WE went last week to a lunch meeting at the Sofitel Hotel on Roxas Blvd. and parked near Aristocrat restaurant.

Coming back from the meeting, we were accosted by an armed security guard who told us to pay P40.

What for? I asked.

He said for parking, adding that that space near the Aristocrat has been taken over by Sofitel. He pointed to a sign (which we did not notice when we parked) saying that the parking fee was P40 and P50 for valet parking.

I was dumbfounded. How does one argue with a security guard that roads and sidewalks are “beyond the commerce of man,” as lawyers would say? Indeed, why would a hotel take over a sidewalk and the space around a public plaza and rent out the space?

Of course I did not pay. I just drove away.

* * *

PARKING is a recurring irritation between motorists and businessmen who appropriate for their exclusive commercial use sidewalks fronting their establishments. The conversion of sidewalks into private parking areas is a widespread abomination in Metro Manila.

In those times when we questioned the guards manning the dubious pay parking areas, we were told that the owners of the establishments had paid to City Hall or to somebody in City Hall for exclusive use of the sidewalks.

Since there are stubborn motorists (like me) who insist on parking in these public places, some establishments have installed chains to keep away unwanted motorists. The chains are lowered only if the motorist is a paying customer.

MMDA Chairman Jojo Binay may want to look into this problem that could lead to shootouts or similar violence.

* * *

(First published in the Philippine STAR of February 25, 1999)

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