SOME eleven thousand miles away from this archipelago lies a country on the western coast of South America. There, from the edge of the Pacific Ocean to the foothills of the Andes mountains, ballots have been cast to determine the country’s next leader. Despite thousands of protesters marching on the streets of Lima, many Peruvians have still chosen the daughter of an imprisoned ex-president, infamous for his iron-fisted rule and later convicted of corruption and human rights abuses, to become their next president.
Does this sound familiar? Offspring of notorious and disgraced former leaders running for the highest (or second highest) position in the land and topping the polls, all because of ignorance and forgetfulness of a part of history only decades past.
There are some differences, however. While Keiko Fujimori has apologized for the crimes and errors of her father’s government, promising to “never again” let such atrocities befall Peru, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. has done the complete opposite. When asked in the recently held Vice Presidential Debates about the alleged human rights violations during his father’s regime, he simply had this to say: “I will apologize for any wrongdoing that I have done … But, I can only apologize for myself, not for anyone.”
The lack of remorse is astounding, and it continues to both baffle and anger many that the Marcos family continues to deny that billions of pesos have been siphoned away from our national coffers during Marcos, Sr.’s time, and that they refuse to return what is rightfully ours, feigning innocence despite findings by the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG) and rulings of U.S. courts.
But not all Filipinos denounce the Marcoses’ impunity. Senator Marcos continues to lead the vice presidential race in in surveys, with Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero falling to second place, now statistically tied with Liberal Party bet Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo. Marcos apologists and historical revisionists hound writers and commenters in news and social media websites, yearning for the so-called golden years of the Marcos regime. Notwithstanding statements denouncing historical revisionism from various institutions around the country, including one from members of the Ateneo community, many Filipinos – particularly those from the younger generations who have no firsthand experience of Martial Law – still believe that those years were not as bad as we have allegedly been made to believe, attributing this to the politicization of history by the supposed “victors” of the People Power Revolution. Even within the halls of such institutions, students believe that the sins of the father should not be blamed on the son. But how is that even applicable, when it has been shown that Marcos, Jr. was complicit, that he had committed his own sins?
Perhaps the worst part of this state of affairs is that it is indicative of a lack of compassion among Filipinos. That many can continue to support Marcos, Jr. for whatever accomplishments he may have, and continue to ignore the atrocities committed during Martial Law and his lack of remorse for the same, shows selfishness: as long as it did not happen to them, then it does not matter to them, either. They continue to be oblivious to the plight of the victims of the regime, and sadly, it does not look like things will change any time soon. P