No objective history of the Marcos era so far

MORE than three decades after Ferdinand Marcos’ strongman rule ended in 1986, we still do not have an objective, fact- and document-based history of that crucial period of our history.

That adage that it is the victors in a political or military conflict who write history in this case is so true. What we mostly have are ferociously partisan accounts of the Yellows and the Reds, and of US writers who wanted to cash in on the sudden interest that had emerged in America in the supposedly dramatic fall of a dictator.

This black-and-white narrative has been so successfully disseminated because media has been dominated for three decades by such Yellow newspapers as the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Philippine Star as well as the giant broadcast network ABS-CBN Corp., which has brainwashed Filipinos with that false narrative. 

Worse, Marcos’ widow Imelda and their children have done little to counter the Yellows and Reds’ portrayal of the Marcos era.

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Young lives taken by the god that failed, cowards partly to blame

THE photos posted on Facebook of University of the Philippines student Rona Manalo, smiling on the left and then as a corpse, killed in a firefight with Marines last September 3 in Palawan, are heart-wrenching. There have been many like her in recent years, such as Recca Noelle Monte, a UP engineering student also killed in battle on Sept. 4, 2014, with Army troopers in some forgotten mountain in Abra.

The bell could have tolled for me. I was their age when I was recruited to the Communist Party and sent to Samar to organize what would have been some of the first New People’s Army (NPA) units. I am grateful to my sensitive stomach for living this long: I couldn’t stand the diet of coconut meat and bugas-mais staple and asked to be deployed to Manila.

Rona Manalo, a tragedy of our times: Student to activist to slain NPA. FACEBOOK PHOTOS
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Leonen failed to file his SALNs like Sereno, but for more years

SUPREME Court Associate Justice Mario Victor Leonen may be even a worse offender of the Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth (SALN) Law than the ousted chief justice Maria Lourdes Sereno. That law (Republic Act 6713 of 1989, called the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees) requires all state officials and employees to file their yearly SALNs.

Sereno was removed from her post in 2018 for having failed to file such reports for six years, an offense for which her colleagues decided that she had no integrity and, therefore, could not have been appointed as chief justice.

Leonen, unless he makes these documents public to prove otherwise, has failed to file his SALN for 15 years from the time he joined the University of the Philippines (UP) faculty from 1989 to 2003 and for the years 2008 to 2009. Replying to a freedom of information request (under Executive Order No. 2 of 2016) that I had filed, the Central Records Division of the Office of the Ombudsman reported that they have on file only Leonen’s SALNs for the years 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011. Civil Service Commission’s Resolution 1500088 of 2015 ordered all state universities (and several other state entities) to turn over all the SALNs submitted to it to the ombudsman.

Justice Leonen: Can he argue the SALNs were lost?
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Will the US help us in a fight with China?

Maybe, but likely not, secret memo explains
IS Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. right to claim that the United States will come to our aid in case China attacks our vessels in disputed areas in the South China Sea?

The short answer: maybe, if Chinese forces attack us first, and we didn’t shoot first. But most likely, no. The Americans will decide at their whim as the provisions of the Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT) are ambiguous.

The US will simply interpret the treaty the way its sees fit in the actual situation. More importantly, it will base its decision on whether aiding us and fighting the Chinese in a disputed territory is worth risking a nuclear war with China, especially as it has developed only in the past several years a blue-water Navy at par with the US.

This is not speculation, nor my analysis. The way the US really interprets the treaty was revealed in 2009 when a 1976 secret memorandum was declassified by the US State Department’s Office of the Historian. While the stance was made in response to the demand of the late President Ferdinand Marcos for a “clear written statement” in 1976, it remains the same today.

Memo explaining US stance on MDT
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Locsin dumps Duterte’s China policy — and follows Trump’s election stunt

FOREIGN Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana have, in just two months’ time, become United States President Donald Trump’s spokesmen in Asia, loudly reciting in this part of the world one of his key campaign messages to Americans for them to reelect him in November — that he is, and will be, tough on China.

Trump himself inadvertently revealed his campaign messaging in a speech on July 14: “So, Joe Biden and President [Barack] Obama freely allowed China to pillage our factories, plunder our communities and steal our most precious secrets.”

“I’ve stopped it largely,” he added.

Trump not only thinks bashing China would endear him to his racist base, but as well as to big businesses fearful of Chinese economic power. US intelligence have reported publicly that while Russia is rooting for him, the Chinese aren’t. And this is one US president who pursues petty hurts.

Trump ramps up anti-China election spiel; Locsin and Lorenzana echo it.
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Setting the record straight on Ninoy as opposition leader, martyr

Last of 2 parts
BENIGNO “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., who was supposedly a scholar at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for three years, didn’t write anything, not even a journal, essay or article for any US publication denouncing Ferdinand Marcos.

The Yellows claim that Aquino galvanized the opposition against Marcos there. I haven’t seen any evidence or any testimony to support this claim, though.

It was the Movement for a Free Philippines headed by another former senator in exile, Raul Manglapus, that was more active, who went around the US rousing the Filipino community there to denounce the dictatorship. Aquino rarely left Cambridge.

All available published records show Aquino as being militant only a year after his 1980 heart surgery, and then in the months before his return in 1983.

Screen grab of a video of Ninoy’s speech sometime in 1981.
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Aquino a US pawn to maintain its hegemony in Asia

WE have to tear apart the mythology of Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. as a hero if we are to build our nation. The Ninoy myth has been disseminated quite effectively for 30 years by three Yellow regimes, and by powerful entities that have monopoly power to mold Filipinos’ minds — among them the Catholic Church with its universities, ABS-CBN Broadcasting, as well as the two newspapers Philippine Daily Inquirer and Philippine Star.

Any political movement requires a mythology to rationalize its power grab. Swept into power by that fable in 1986, the Yellows and their allies, the communists, will continue to use the Ninoy myth as their narrative to resuscitate their forces and advance their agenda to topple President Duterte and his successor to reverse the gains made in building a strong Republic. It is just too late at this time for the Yellows to find and develop a new narrative.

A key element in this narrative is the portrayal of the United States as the benign big brother that provided Aquino with a refuge in the 1980s and then helped his wife Corazon assume power in many ways — all for the sake of democracy. Two of these of course was first, the shanghaiing of Ferdinand Marcos to Hawaii, fooling him into thinking that he was simply being brought to his Ilocos bastion for his own safety. That aborted any move by the pro-Marcos forces to regroup to counter the Yellow Revolution.

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Ninoy: The Filipino is worth dying for? Or is it the presidency?

His taped last talk with a friend
DID Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. risk his life to liberate the country from a dictatorship or did he mainly see it as a chance to succeed Ferdinand Marcos, well worth the risk of returning to Manila?

His candid conversation on Aug.13, 1983 with his close friend, the late Steve Psinakis — the husband of Presentacion Lopez, the only daughter of the “Don” Eugenio Lopez Sr. — would seem to point to the latter motivation.

In Ninoy’s last interview with foreign correspondents inside the plane in the wee hours of Aug. 21, 1983, he portrays himself as the opposition leader who decided to return to the Philippines, as he put it, “to help the opposition rebuild its grassroots organization” for the 1984 Batasang Pambansa elections. Ninoy says: “I no longer crave for political office. I would like to reiterate: I am not out to overthrow Marcos.”

Aquino responds thus to a reporter’s question on why he was returning to the Philippines: “I don’t think a general should be 10,0000 miles from his troops, even if he’s leading them from prison.” He says: “I have to suffer with my people, I have to lead them because of the responsibility given to me by my people.”

Fatal miscalculation? Aquino assassinated at the tarmac.
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New normal: Living and working, with Covid-19 still out there

I KNOW the term has become a cliché, but I just can’t think of another one to describe what the Duterte government and most of us now view as the realistic approach to the Covid-19 pandemic.

We live and work, and even start to play, with the virus still out there. It’s the new normal.

While a less-than-strict-lockdown — which we call general community quarantine — is obviously still necessary for several cities in Metropolitan Manila, and especially for limited-area hot spots, we can no longer, after five months of doing it, stop or severely restrict economic activity as a means of stopping the spread of the virus. The lives-or-work dichotomy is false.

We have to live with the coronavirus, and for the government to see to it that most Filipinos do what science says will reduce the risk of their being infected by 95 percent: wear face masks, observe social distancing, and wash hands frequently.

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We’re not performing spectacularly vs Covid-19, but not badly either

HOW is our country objectively performing in this global war against the deadliest pandemic in the past 100 years?

In gist, not as fantastic as Switzerland, Germany and Japan, but better than the United States, the United Kingdom, and yes, a colleague of mine’s model, Sweden. We’re not doing badly: in a spectrum consisting of the safest country to be in during this pandemic to the riskiest nation to be in, we’re to the right of the middle.

Out of 200 countries the group studied, deploying sophisticated mathematical tools and accessing “big data,” the Philippines is ranked 55th in terms of residents’ safety in this pandemic. That means we’re better off than 145 countries of the world, but worse than 54 nations. The study used points for over 60 metrics. We got 532 points, with the safest country, Switzerland, getting 752 points.

We’re a safer country to be in during this pandemic than (other than those already mentioned) France, Russia and Iran, which in the listing were ranked 60, 61 and 72, respectively. (The caveat here is that the study was undertaken in June, and two months is a long time for this pandemic.)

Source: Deep Knowledge Group (Note: Not shown here are the countries ranked 101 to 200.)
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