I CHANCED upon a Facebook post that helped me understand why the Ateneo de Manila, one of my alma maters, has become so Yellow, so rabidly anti-Marcos that it has gone to the dogs, intellectually as well as politically. This was a post by Dr. Christina Astorga, considered one of the leading academics of Ateneo, having served as chairman of its theology department from 1994 to 2003.
Her post and curriculum vitae reveal that despite her being an academic supposedly trained to rely on data for her claims, she hasn’t researched on a single aspect of the Marcos’ martial law regime. Her views on the martial law years are based entirely on the website Rappler, the Philippine Star and the Philippine Daily Inquirer, certified propaganda venues of the Yellows. Kudos to Rappler for being able to brainwash academics.
Well, if Ateneo’s academic leaders are such biased persons who rely not on data but on biased media, then what would you expect of its faculty and students?
Astorga’s post in May during the election season was in reaction to a post by Nikko Buendia, the mother of a grade-school-to-college Atenean, who poured her heart out complaining why Ateneo has been imposing its “own version of truth” and has been stoking the fires of hatred against the Marcoses.
Astorga claimed that Buendia’s letter was a “subterfuge of historical revisionism.” Poor Nikko, she was, for Chrissake, just worried about her son. Now, Astorga claims she is deliberately deceiving people (subterfuge) in the Marcoses’ grand project of historical revisionism.
I’m not going to debunk each of Astorga’s claims because of column space constraints, and will deal only with those in which this purported academic clearly shows she just picked it up from the Star and Rappler.
Astorga wrote: “Imelda has been convicted of 7 counts of plunder.” This was the headline — or nearly — of a Philippine Star article on Nov. 9, 2018: “Imelda found guilty of 7 counts of graft.” Astorga wrote that people “must speak the truth, but always in love.” She obviously saw Imelda not as worthy of her love, that instead of “graft,” she saw “plunder.”
Didn’t this academic bother to check when the law of plunder was enacted?
Under the Cory Aquino regime in 1991, which even included as the penalty the plunderer’s execution. How the hell could Imelda be convicted of a crime that didn’t exist then? Of course, Astorga didn’t mention that Imelda appealed the case to the Supreme Court, which is still pending. I bet Astorga doesn’t even know what the case is about.
Astorga wrote: “The Marcoses have still to pay the gov’t 203 billion in estate tax debt!” This time a Philippine Inquirer headline, that number concocted by retired justice Antonio Carpio, which only Yellows keep repeating. I wrote several columns on this fake news spread by Carpio, and among many other points showed that most of the properties for which the Marcoses were supposed to pay estate tax had been sequestered by the government since 1986. Doesn’t she read other more balanced newspapers like The Manila Times?
Astorga wrote: “They are being held in contempt by a US court for ‘contumacious conduct causing direct harm to a class of human rights victims, amounting to 353 million dollars’.” That again is another Rappler article on Jan. 13, 2022, one of its many black-prop items hurled against candidate Bongbong Marcos, entitled “Marcos Jr. continues to evade judgment of US court $353-million contempt.” As I have discussed in several columns, the original trial over alleged human rights victims, which was undertaken in Hawaii in the 1990s, is one of the most shameless periods of our history.
Cory Aquino surrendered our sovereignty by expressly agreeing to the prosecution of a Philippine president by a US court on the basis of American laws. It was a kangaroo court trial that took only three weeks, decided by a jury of six, with Marcos lawyers not permitted to present a defense. The judge expressly prohibited the defense from ever mentioning the word “communist” — a crucial order as nearly all of the complainants were communist cadres or NPA soldiers who were captured or killed in the course of the government’s anti-insurgency campaign.
But perhaps I am giving too much credit to Astorga as an academic. Her field is “theology,” which many academics don’t consider an academic discipline. As one scholar has pointed out: “Theology is an excuse for grown men [and women] to spend their lives trying to convince themselves, and others, that ridiculous fairy tales are true. Some of them get paid for it.”
Indeed, what happened during martial law can only be the subject of empirical investigation, not musings on “truth.” In her 14-page curriculum vitae, Astorga lists 40 articles she has written. There is not a single one that reported her empirical investigation of an aspect of martial law.
This is, of course, typical of the Ateneo academe; for all their rage against Marcos and martial law, nobody there — including their academic rock star Ambeth Ocampo — has written an empirical work on that period. Emblematic I bet, of this lady’s Manichean world view is the first of her two obscure books titled: The Beast, the Harlot and the Lamb: Faith Confronts Systemic Evil.
There is one other thing that prods me to tell Astorga to shut up about the Philippines. Based on her CV, after being chairman of Ateneo’s theology department from 1994-2003, she has since worked in America, mostly in Jesuit universities — Boston College, Georgetown University, Gonzaga University and so on. She has been chairman of the theology department of the University of Portland since 2014, in Oregon, where she lives.
This lady has been out of the country for 19 years, yet pontificates on what’s happening here, after reading the Yellow newspapers online.
Indeed, I know so many like her. Renowned American essayist H. L. Mencken’s adage fits them to a tee: “A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier.”
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