Tag Archives: Marcos

With “Partial Martial,” Philippines President Arroyo secures her legacy as “Marcos Lite”

President Arroyo has finally secured her legacy as “Marcos Lite.” 

That’s my name for the president who has managed to keep the corruption levels and human rights violations during her administration under a level to cause absolute world-wide indignation.

She’s President Obama’s buddy, right.

But now Arroyo has unequivocally earned her sobriquet by using the already horrific Maguindanao mass murders  to justify martial law, a straight steal from the Marcos playbook.

For one second, perhaps we can let cooler heads prevail. Is it really all that bad? It’s not full martial law. Just in Maguindanao.

Call it “Partial Martial.”

Of course, there’s no such thing as being a little bit pregnant either.

But let’s give the president the benefit of the doubt.

The power move shows Arroyo certainly isn’t going gently into her good night. I thought P.M. was supposed to stand for “prime minister,” reportedly  the next coveted  position  Madame Arroyo was concocting for future occupancy. That would require some changes in the Philippine democracy itself,  but it seems that with this “p.m.” Arroyo’s already applying some aggressive  constitutional interpretation.

She’s even using the same rule that Marcos used to invoke full-on martial law.

But as Pacifico Agabin, a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law, told Inquirer reporters, Arroyo’s declaration is  unwarranted and unnecessary as the government has shown control of the situation in Maguindanao with the arrests of the Ampatuans.

 “The only grounds for the declaration of martial law are invasion and rebellion. I don’t think the Ampatuans are capable of launching a rebellion against the government,” he told the Inquirer.

He added that the constitution requires “actual rebellion,” not merely a threat.

There was already a change in the law in 1987, so that a repeat of Marcos could not be possible without a real threat to the government.

The U.S. Constitution, from which the Philippine Constitution has a “martial law” clause. But who in his right mind would declare it in a democracy without a real threat to the government.

Certainly a president can issue a “state of emergency” if need be.  But to go right to martial law?

In this case, Arroyo has taken off her soiled velvet gloves and revealed her iron fist.

Did she really think it would be as becoming with her red dress?

There’s no reason for partial martial, period. A massacre, as bad as it is, isn’t a rebellion.

So what’s the purpose, of p.m.?

Well, p.r.

 Arroyo likely feels the only way to distance her administration from her former allies the Ampatuans is to come down hard on on all of Maguindanao.  With partial martial, she creates the illusion of zero tolerance, whereas all along she has actually empowered the Ampatuans to do as they wish.

She also tests her power. Partial martial let’s her feel the wheel of absolute control in a portion of the archipelago, and let’s her consider an option. Could she go all the way in a transgression of the constitution to extend her presidency for “the good of the country”?

Legislators and the people must speak out now. Marcos Lite? “Partial Martial” is a clear sign of a second coming.

In death, Corazon Aquino becomes spirit of Philippine democracy

I’ll always see Cory Aquino as the demure amateur thrust into the limelight.

I first saw her in 1983 in the Santo Domingo Church in the Philippines. I was there for KRON-TV/ San Francisco doing a story for the NBC network. I was covering the funeral of Aquino’s late husband the charismatic Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, the former journalist and Philippine Senator who was considered the main foe of Philippine autocrat Ferdinand Marcos.

Cory Aquino wore a black, not yellow dress, as she took to the vestibule in mourning and asked the entire country  to “not let Ninoy die in vain.”

She then led a crowd of at more than a million people through the streets of Manila in what was a magnificent funeral procession and a harbinger of the “People Power” revolution that would take place within three years.

Cory Aquino didn’t do half bad, really, as political wives go.

The feelings for Benigno Aquino and the negative feelings for Marcos were so strong, that the momentum was set up for anyone who dared to stand in the spotlight.

Cory Aquino was it by default.

She had enough in her to inspire the millions ready for change to boldly stand with her in 1986 against the dictator. This was the peaceful revolution known as People Power. The assassination, the distraught situation of the Philippine people, and the unwillingness of the country to accept a fraudulent Marcos election bestowed on Aquino a kind of  sainthood. Cory was the Philippines patron saint of democracy.

That was Cory Aquino’s ideal role. She was perfect at that.

But as president, she was a bit lacking.

In interviews, she admitted she had no real idea what she was doing. The devout Catholic had her sincerity, her earnestness. But we learned that public policy is not built on prayer alone. Aquino did manage to survive and keep things together, no small task considering that by the time she left office in 1992, she had survived six coup attempts.

The real disappointment of her reign, however, was not that Cory couldn’t do it, but that the Filipino people who thrust her into power couldn’t do it. With Marcos gone, the deck was merely reshuffled among the governing class. The Ins were Outs. The Outs were In. Net change: Zero.

Exiled leaders came home to their lost fortunes. Former leaders came to America, or accepted lesser posts. The poor did not/could not rise. The country’s collective fate did not improve.

Unfortunately, it’s still debatable if the Philippines is better off now than it was under Marcos.

Since Aquino left office, the Philippines has been reliving watered down versions of its past. Corruption is dialed back, but not eliminated. A bad president (Estrada) is thrown out by “mini-people power,” and is replaced by another oligarch, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo.

Arroyo, who was with President Obama this past week, is the anti-Cory in every way. Cory wore yellow. Arroyo wore red.

It’s safe to say Arroyo is no Cory Aquino.

I’ve called Arroyo Marcos Lite. All the taste of the former dictator, but with fewer calories.

Even Cory Aquino marched in protests that called for Arroyo’s resignation.

Ironically, Cory Aquino’s death may actually make her an even more powerful force in such a devoutly Catholic country.

Death should only solidify Aquino’s role as the spirit of a democratic ideal for the Philippines.