The Evil that Men Do Lives after Them
In Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar,” there’s a scene at Caesar’s funeral after his assassination, where Anthony claims that “the evil that men do lives after them.”
Anthony’s message was quite straightforward and unmistakable. He was saying that the evil deeds a person commits do not fade away. They are stuck in people’s memory and never are they forgotten.
Fast forward to 2021.
Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos, Jr, is running for president. It’s no secret that Imelda Marcos harbors hope that Bongbong will someday become the president of the Philippines. It’s the only way for the Marcoses to completely regain power and rehabilitate the image of their father, a known human rights violator and whose martial law regime was also infamously known for its corruption, financial abuses, and extravagance.
The problem though with Bongbong is he is not just an ordinary Marcos. He is the son of the late despot Ferdinand E. Marcos who, for 21 years, ruled and traumatized a generation of Filipinos with his dictatorial rule.
Reports from the Amnesty International estimated around 100,000 people were victims of martial law with 3,000 killed, 34,000 tortured and 70,000 arrested.
Stephen Bosworth, former US ambassador to the Philippines, told the US Congress that the Marcoses had stolen an estimated total of $10 billion from the coffers of the government.
According to the October 5, 2021 editorial in the Philippine Inquirer, “But as of August 2021, 35 years since Edsa 1, the PCGG is still running after P125.9 billion of the Marcos wealth, comprising 1,856 items of real and personal properties that are still under litigation. These items include land, condominiums, apartments, rest houses, jewelry, paintings, and shares of stocks.”
Adding insult to injury, the Marcoses have never apologized for these evil deeds. True to the Shakespearean mantra that the evil act a person has committed lives on, the death of the strongman Marcos did not assuage the anger of many Filipinos whose loved ones suffered immensely during the years of the dictatorship.
In fact, Bongbong’s political ambition and intransigence have increasingly put him at odds with those who have suffered from and still remember the atrocities committed by his father.
Bongbong’s continuous denial of his father’s mistakes is what makes me view him as unrepentant and, thus, a threat to democracy.
Let me explain.
Bongbong was already of age during the martial law years. He might not be a direct participant in the atrocities committed by his father being the commander-in-chief, but he was old enough to know what had happened.
But never in his adult life did he ever acknowledge his father’s evil deeds nor apologize for them on behalf of the family. He even benefitted from his father’s ill-gotten wealth.
It would have been a measure of Bongbong’s sincerity if he were to address his father’s shameful past and come clean. Only then can he provide the country that “unifying leadership” that he is now preaching as a candidate. I wish he realizes that there will never be unity without accountability.
What is worse is he continues to sanitize his father’s 21-year regime by promoting “historical revisionism” to make those years appear as the “golden years” in Philippine society.
Remember his response when asked to comment on his father’s martial law regime: “What am I to say sorry about?”
He once said, “Kung ito ay talagang maliwanag na sa aming ibinabalak gawin ay mayroon ngang nasaktan o nahirapan, siyempre. Pero ang paghihirap ay ‘di yon ang polisiya ng pamahalaan. Kung nangyari man yun, ‘di yun ang binabalak ng administrayson ng aking ama.” (If it was clear that we planned to hurt people or make them suffer, then of course, we will apologize. But the suffering was not the policy of the government. If it indeed happened, that was not the plan of my father’s administration.) (Rappler.com).
What’s wrong with Bongbong becoming a president? A lot. As the saying goes, the apple does not fall far from the tree.
Like his father, Bongbong also denies the existence of documented human rights violations during martial law numbering around 100,000, including tortures, incarcerations, salvaging, and enforced disappearances.
Like his father whose 33 medals and awards resulting from his military exploits during World War II were exposed as fake, Bongbong’s degree at Oxford University was also exposed as fake.
Like his father and his family who benefitted from the family’s ill-gotten wealth, Bongbong is also a beneficiary of the family’s Swiss bank accounts amounting to $356 million.
Like his father, Bongbong also paints the martial law years as a time of peace and economic prosperity when, in actuality, according to the Ibon Databank, the Philippine foreign debt from 1965 to 1986 increased by a whopping 4300%.
Like his father, Bongbong also believes there is nothing to apologize for the declaration of martial law and its adverse effects.
Bongbong may not be his father. But he is similar to his father in many ways. And as long as he continues to flaunt his ignorance of what happened during the martial law years, he can be dangerous. And that’s damn scary.
As Mark Twain once said, “Children are natural mimics who act like their parents despite every effort to teach them good manners.”