THE PLUNDERERS ARE BACK ENDORSED BY GUTTER DUTERTE
Saturday, October 16, 2021
First, a “whitewashed” history of Marcos’ corruption and kleptocracy can serve as a smokescreen for his family members’ own corrupt practices. While the “Marcos” name has been sullied by the dictator’s dismal record, his family members managed to get themselves elected to various public offices on the strength of their still-sizable base of loyalists and supporters. Imelda, Marcos’ wife, is currently a member of the House of Representatives; his daughter, Imee, is the Governor of Ilocos Norte, Marcos’ home province; Bongbong was a Senator before he ran for Vice President. For better or worse, the political careers of Imelda, Imee, and Bongbong are tied to Marcos’ own reputation. If Marcos continues to be perceived as a corrupt leader, his family members will be associated to corruption too. But if Marcos’ image is sanitized through historical revisionism, his family members can use the “vindication” of the “Marcos” name to cover up their own corrupt practices. This is particularly dangerous considering the corruption accusations currently being leveled against the Marcos family members: against Imelda, for her role in setting up bogus Swiss foundations; against Bongbong, for misappropriation of “pork barrel” funds; and against Imee, for undeclared campaign contributions to President Duterte, misappropriation of funds meant for tobacco farmers, and secret bank accounts exposed in the “Panama Papers” leak.
Second, forgetting Marcos’ corruption undermines the still-ongoing work of the institution established to recover his ill-gotten wealth. One of the first official acts of President Corazon Aquino, Marcos’ successor, was to establish the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), and to task it with the recovery of public assets stolen by Marcos, his family, and his cronies—and to return that wealth to its rightful owners, the Filipino people. Needless to say, the historical basis of the PCGG’s existence is the fact of Marcos’ corruption; if this fact were to be expunged from the nation’s collective memory, the legitimacy of the PCGG will be severely compromised. This, in turn, will seriously undermine the ongoing efforts to recover the rest of the $10 billion worth of Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth, of which only $4 billion have so far been recovered. Now more than ever, continued public support for the PCGG’s efforts is needed. Under President Duterte, who has called Marcos “a hero to many Filipinos,” the PCGG is about to be abolished and absorbed by the Office of the Solicitor General. This move will undoubtedly dilute the PCGG’s historical and symbolic value as a tangible reminder of Marcos’ kleptocracy.
Third, remembering Marcos’ history of corruption is essential to fostering the environment needed for ongoing and future anticorruption efforts to succeed. If Marcos’ image is successfully sanitized by tampering with collective memory, it will send the wrong signal to public officials. It will tell them that corruption ultimately pays, because even if they are caught, they can still hope for some sort of historical vindication for their name and reputation in the future. This dangerous mindset is inimical to the success of any anticorruption effort, which depends heavily on fostering an environment of accountability and justice rather than of impunity. It is also important to continue holding up Marcos’ kleptocracy as a cautionary illustration of how the suppression of democratic values can enable large-scale plunder. When the people are armed with a truthful rendition of Marcos’ history of corruption, they are in a better position to be vigilant against similar acts. They will likewise be more inclined to guard and strengthen democratic institutions and norms, which in turn contribute to building an environment hostile to corruption.
Efforts to make the Filipino people forget Marcos’ history of corruption and abuse should be resisted. At this juncture, it should no longer be a matter of debate that Marcos was a thief. Not only is it in society’s best interest to preserve an accurate chronicle of its history, it is also an anticorruption imperative to keep the lessons of Marcos’ kleptocratic legacy salient and meaningful for succeeding generations. Charting a national course free of corruption will be even more difficult than it already is if this recent tide of pro-Marcos historical revisionism is not decisively turned.
There was no immediate reaction from the Marcos family, including his wife Imelda, who is currently a member of the House of Representatives.The Marcoses are “ready to open and bring back (assets) including a few gold bars,” Duterte quoted the Marcos family spokesman as saying. “It’s not that big, it’s not Fort Knox, it’s just a few but they said, they’ll return.”
Posted by ASC at 7:40 PM