A young man says - by way of comment on one of my Facebook posts drumming up support to prevent the return of the Marcoses to Malacanang - that he is not pro-Bongbong Marcos. But what he knows is that Ferdinand Marcos was responsible for a lot of "good things" that happened to this country. He enumerates fly-overs, expressways, transportation, and national roads. I tell him the flyovers -if they are good things- proliferated during President Fidel Ramos' time. SLEX, SCTEX, and TPLEX- those expressways not necessarily "good things" because they happened in the name of privatization of what should be common goods- are recent creations. I ask him what he thinks of thousands of enforced disappearances, murders, tortures, and arrests and imprisonments of suspected and real political dissenters during The Reign of Terror. He says there is a plethora of narratives that make conflicting assertions. He is confused, he laments. So I refer him to credible sites that talk of the horrors of Martial Law. I tell him to read the book, The Conjugal Dictatorship (which my daughter Karminn Cheryl read during her tender years). I inform him that the book was written by Primitivo Mijares who disappeared because of it. I add that Mijares' very young son was tortured then murdered as part of Marcos' reprisal against Mijares for writing an explosive book. I lead him to a site - a discourse on the decision of the Federal District Court in Hawaii holding the Marcoses responsible for human rights violations committed in the name of Proclamation 1081.
I  understand why the young do not know about the horrors of Martial Law. The older generation and the system did not do enough to educate them. The education system is complicit in propagating the myth that Martial Law was a bed of roses. The present Secretary of Education- he who is one of the architects of the K-to-12 program that we questioned before the Supreme Court says through a subordinate: "DepEd is not saying that martial law per se is bad. We don’t tell out straight that [it] is good or bad … Our students must make the decision themselves.”   Duh. The education system does not encourage critical thinking when it does not provide enough information to help students make a rationale judgment. Well, K-to-12 was designed to create slaves of corporations.

How has the Philippine justice system dealt with the Marcoses and his cronies? Almost nothing. After EDSA, everyone went home and, save for a few, everyone slept, as if EDSA was about ousting Marcos only. It should have been about changing a rotten system, not just of the guards.
Because the people, dead tired from The Reign of Terror, snatched a power nap which evolved into deep slumber after Marcos was haled to Hawaii, they were oblivious to the shadow of darkness creeping back. Many abandoned their activism---although some invoke their invaluable contribution to the anti-Martial Law movement when hit by waves of nostalgia or when they are confronted by a small voice within indicting them for having become part of the infrastructure of a system they once denounced. Some Marcos  old guards managed to ingratiate themselves to the ensuing dispensations including the one headed by Corazon Aquino. Remember the lawyers from the original The Firm that helped prop up the Conjugal Dicatorship. Yes, they are still around. The Marcos cronies reclaimed their economic thrones. Eventually, so did the Marcoses. Former First Lady Imelda  Marcos is a member of the House of Representatives. Imee Marcos is Ilocos Norte Governor. The only acknowledged presidential son Bongbong Marcos,  a remorseless Reign of Terror denier, is a Senator and  might become the next Vice-President of this country. 

Thus,  I am not surprised that young people today think that the Marcos Regime was not that evil because if it was, 
why do not the textbooks say it? Why is Imelda in Congress instead of in jail? Why are her children in power and not in jail? Why are their cronies back and are amassing more wealth? Why are the personalities who were operators of the engine of Martial Law everywhere in the bureaucracy, in Congress? EDSA was stolen from the people by the very forces it was supposed to eradicate.
And let us not miss this: Who among the present candidates for Philippine President is sterilized from anything Marcos? Candidate No. 1 tried unsuccessfully  to convince President Benigno Aquino to inter that wax in Batac, Ilocos Norte in the Libingan ng mga Bayani although during Martial Law, he was a human rights lawyer with the broad resistance movement. Candidate No. 2 cavalierly said that if elected, he would do what Pres. Aquino  refused to do. Candidate No. 3 asserted that Marcos had the best intentions when he issued Proc. No. 1081 that plunged the nation in darkness. Candidate No. 4 was raised by parents who, cozy with Marcos, used their celebrity status to enhance the Marcos rule. By some accounts, this candidate has Marcos' blood running through his/her veins. S/he could have joined anti-Marcos student movements during the dark days but s/he did not. Candidate No. 5 was never known to have been involved in the struggle against Marcos even if s/he was old enough to do something. I believe that if you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. You cannot claim innocence with your silence. Others fell in the dead of night one by one. Indigenous peoples became squatters on their lands. People sacrificed, even their very lives to bring about systemic change. S/he could have at least spoken out. Nada. Now, s/he speaks as if s/he founded The Resistance during that horrible period. "Avoid candidates who want Martial Law to return." Yet, s/he sleeps with forces that terrorize indigenous peoples. Isn't there Martial Law in the militarized indigenous territories? Go to these territories, my friends, and feel the terror that envelopes IPs' existence. Then come back and convince me that Martial Law is too dead to produce a phantom.
Now we are left with only these "Marcosian" people to choose from as we seek to elect a President. We should not nurse illusions that the elections will produce genuine change.

The education and  justice systems failed us and the generation/s after us. They operated under the same old structure so entrenched that it could not be dismantled after Marcos was kidnapped by the Americans and brought to Hawaii. Remember, even Pres. Cory's presidency could not punish her husband's killers. Very sad if not tragic. But it is symbolic of how the justice system could still perpetuate injustice as it did during the dark years .
And did our fate as a nation and as individuals change fundamentally in the aftermath of Martial Law? Sure, our gags were removed but  in IP territories, dissenters get arrested, disappeared, or murdered for speaking out against the mad rush of corporate vultures to pillage their domains in the name of profit. But was EDSA only about freedom of speech? Was it not about freedom from want and poverty also? Was it not about freedom of choice, too?
The failure of the post-Martial Law system-- the same old wine in a different bottle-- to make the criminals of Martial Law accountable, to banish the Marcoses from government,  to ensure that the people will remember the horrors of Martial Law,  to soothe the deep and ineffable pain and damage inflicted by The Reign of Terror does not mean that The Reign was fiction. It was real. Martial Law was not fiction. It was real. The Conjugal Dictatorship was not fiction. It was real.
I am so proud that I will be voting for a senatorial bet who fought the Marcos Dictatorship and was imprisoned and tortured as a very young man for his fierce resistance. He never strayed from the cause pushing for genuine and meaningful change in the Philippines as a human rights lawyer, as a member of Congress, as a human being.
I am proud to be voting for Neri Colmenares.
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