Author’s note: the opinions of the respondents for this article are solely their own and do not speak for or represent the institutions that they belong to.
Despite having multiple scandals and controversies, the Marcos family remains to be one of the country’s most famous and prominent political dynasties, with widespread and powerful political connections.
President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. declared martial law in September 1972, claiming it was the last line of defense against the disorder brought on by violent student protests and alleged communist insurgency threats from the new Communist Party of the Philippines and the Muslim separatist movement of the Moro National Liberation Front.
This marked the beginning of Marcos’ dictatorship, which is famous for its record of human rights violations, mainly against political opponents, student activists, journalists, religious workers, farmers and others who opposed him.
From 1969 until 1986, the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines monitored at least 9,000 victims of human rights violations. Approximately 70,000 individuals were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed between 1972 and 1981 according to the data presented by Amnesty International.
To this day, Marcos holds the Guinness World Record for the Greatest Robbery of a Government.
On April 23, 1986, the Philippine government proclaimed that it had managed to identify $860.8 million stashed by Marcos and his wife Imelda. From November 1965 to November 1966, the overall national loss was estimated to reach $5 to $10 billion.
While some Marcos supporters and apologists argue that the years under martial law in the Philippines were considered to be the “greatest years” of our country, the living conditions, laws and regulations that existed at the time were coupled by a slew of human rights violations and counts of graft and corruption. Marcos was forced to step down from the presidency in February 1986, during the historic Edsa People Power Revolution.
The Marcoses have spent many years attempting to repair their image, denying charges that any of them had plundered billions of dollars of government funds while in power.
In an interview with Rappler executive editor and Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa, former Cambridge Analytica employee Brittany Kaiser revealed that Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. had approached them for help with revamping their family’s image.
Microtargeting, or the practice of altering an individual’s thoughts and sentiments using misinformation methods and the use of available personal data, is on the rise, according to Kaiser. She characterized the Marcoses’ attempts to remake themselves as historical revisionism, fueled by the use of online content.
Marcos Jr., son of the late president and dictator, announced his candidacy for the May presidential election on Oct. 5, 2021, which sparked a backlash among many Filipinos, especially those who were victims of the martial law era.
Marcos Jr.’s critics have filed several petitions seeking to disqualify him from the election, claiming that he was convicted of failing to file tax returns when in public office from 1982 to 1985, and failed to disclose the conviction when filing his candidacy papers.
For context, on July 27, 1995, Marcos Jr. was found guilty by the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 105 of failing to submit and pay income tax returns from 1982 to 1985. For several counts of violation of the National Internal Revenue Code, he was sentenced to a total of seven years in prison and required to pay a fine.
According to the petitioners, Marcos’ failure to file his tax returns carries a conviction of a lifetime election ban, which he has avoided, winning elections to a number of government positions, including as senator. While Marcos Jr.’s camp had already released a statement with so-called proof that he, indeed, paid his taxes, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court Branch 105 maintains that they have no record of such payment being made.
After months of review, three consolidated petitions seeking to prevent the dictator’s son from participating in the 2022 elections were dismissed by the Commission on Elections First Division, stating in the document that Marcos Jr. can run for president even though he was convicted in a tax lawsuit in the late 1980s.
With Marcos Jr. and his running mate Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte leading the polls, the country is now poised to repeat its mistakes, especially as Marcos Jr.’s campaign also revolves around upholding his father’s legacy.
“With another Marcos gunning for presidency, Edsa is more relevant now since their family was the reason for the first People Power Revolution,” said Arvin Ajesta, a Political Science student at De La Salle University. “It is essential to commemorate those who went out of their way to show a united force against the dictatorship in 1986, to remind this generation of its vital role in making sure those tragic years don’t happen again.”
Jaye Santos, a Developmental Studies student at Ateneo de Manila University, said Marcos Jr.’s run for the country’s highest office is a disrespect to those who bravely stood up for democracy during the martial law era.
“For Edsa 2022, this means it is high time that we, as a nation, strengthen our principles and actions in order to fight against the return of the Marcoses into power,” Santos said.
Dale Marollano, a Philosophy student at University of Santo Tomas, shares the sentiment. “Isang insulto sa mga mamamayang Pilipino na sumama noong unang People Power at sa mga biktima ng martial law ang pagtakbo ng anak ng dating diktador sa pagkapangulo,” he said. “Hanggang ngayon, hindi pa rin nagbabayad ang pamilyang Marcos sa kanilang mga kasalanan. Hindi pa rin nila naibabalik ang mga ninakaw nila sa kaban ng bayan at higit sa lahat, hindi pa rin sila humihingi ng tawad sa mga pamilya ng mga biktima ng martial law.”
“The sins of the father are not of the son.” This quote is the most common response of every Marcos supporter. But let’s say we, in fact, do not look at the things that Marcos Sr. has done. Marcos Jr. still has sins of his own that raise a lot of red flags. From attempts at historical revisionism, tax evasion and refusing to acknowledge the proven crimes of his parents, Marcos Jr. is not as clean as his supporters claim him to be.
Ajesta continues: “Edsa 2022 is a manifestation of the truth that we should uphold to. It should be a movement directed to mobilize people and arm Filipinos with the courage and wisdom to materialize the campaigns #NeverForget and #NeverAgain this 2022 elections. May the Filipinos be reminded of the country’s journey to democracy and be illumed to further safeguard it through this significant occasion.”
Marollano adds, “Ngayong ika-36 na taon ng komemorasyon ng Edsa 1, magsilbing gabay at paalala nawa ito sa mga Pilipino na hindi na dapat ulit makatapak ang mga Marcos sa ating gobyerno. Maging paalala sana sa atin ngayong 2022 national elections ang mga kaganapan noong Edsa 1, na lagi’t lagi nasa kamay ng masang Pilipino ang kapangyarihang baguhin ang sistema.”
Edsa is not just a protest. It’s a commemoration, a movement.
Last year, I wrote an article titled “This is our Edsa.” The battles that we were facing then were a little more different than our battles now, but the notion still remains: Edsa is not just an event that our country experienced. Now it is a movement and a reminder to stand up for our rights as citizens of this country, and to take action when we are called to do so.
These upcoming elections, let us keep in mind the events that led to us being where we are now: from the sacrifices of our national heroes during the colonial era, to the deaths of the victims and those who bravely stood up for the Filipino people during martial law. Let us honor their sacrifices and their memory by voting wisely and making sure that our country is in safe hands, and securing the future of the next generation of Filipinos citizens.—CONTRIBUTED
The author is a Behavioral Science student at University of Santo Tomas.