HISTORY is written by those who hanged the heroes. One of the hangmen-revisionists is Rodrigo Duterte who claimed in his latest State of the Nation Address that he had “dismantled the oligarchy in the Philippines without declaring martial law.” He was apparently pitting himself against his idol, the corrupt strongman Ferdinand Marcos, whose dictatorship provided the grisly context for the assassination in 1983 of Ninoy Aquino that unleashed the pro-democracy wave that led to the Edsa revolution in 1986 that toppled the dictatorship and restored democracy in the country. Weeks before, his son Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte, filed a bill seeking to change the name of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) to Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Pilipinas. In the guise of patriotism, the younger Duterte’s parochialism and revisionism seek to erase the fact that Aquino was killed in the airport now named after him. The move is classic historical revisionism by the inheritors of the Marcos legacy of bloody authoritarianism. Duterte himself is one of those hangmen of Aquino: one of his first acts in office was to order the burial of the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

At this time when historical revisionism is in fashion, Rizal’s warning in his novel El Filibusterismo through the wise Indio priest Father Florentino is  relevant: “What is the use of independence if the slaves of today become the tyrants of tomorrow.” With a single stroke in the history books, Duterte is erasing the injustices and atrocities committed during martial law, sanctifying the ground on which he seeks to tread bloodily. But in his vain hopes of revising the past in order to glorify his idol the deposed strongman, he has only proven himself a big joke, more brutish and pathetic than his tyrannical predecessor.

Duterte’s strongman pretensions are displayed against the backdrop of a crumbling economy and the sky-rocketing number of Covid-19 patients that has made the Philippines the worst hotspot in the region. The Philippines is now turning into a graveyard, not so much because of the dead piling up due to the virus, but because of the utter stupidity, incompetence and vileness of the highest authority in the land.

The British historian Arnold Toynbee observed that civilizations die because of two reasons: The first is because of external threats or powers that assert claim over it (the red alert is raised here over the douchebag from Davao’s Peking-duck ways with the Beijing bully). But the second which ultimately determines the success of the first, is when the people within a threatened society no longer believes in the value of who they are and what they are fighting for. (Are you listening, DDS?)

Perhaps the President isn’t aware of the corruption and lousiness of his administration and how poorly it is handling this pandemic He didn’t dismantle the oligarchy; he just dismantled the oligarchies who are not on his side or who didn’t contribute to his campaign kitty, replacing them with his cronies, ala Marcos and his Benedictos, Disinis, and Danding Cojuangcos. (Where are they now?) The oligarchy and big business that Duterte claims he has crushed are also the ones that are providing people jobs and helping the economy keep itself afloat. But of course, he doesn’t care about the people losing their jobs since they’re employed not by his cronies but by the “oligarchy,” whatever that means in his twisted vocabulary. He doesn’t care for ordinary Filipinos, just as when he refused to stop flights to and from China ostensibly because Beijing might retaliate against tens of thousands of Filipinos working there; when he finally imposed the travel ban, he included Taiwan because he said Taiwan was part of China. Not only did he expose his ignorance, but he also betrayed his lackadaisical interest in the fate of the tens of thousands of Filipinos working in Taiwan. In short, he really doesn’t care about Filipinos; all he wants is to please or appease China.

Duterte seems to be toying with the nation’s fate as the country is placed in the grip of despair for his failure to take the pandemic seriously, hoping that China would eventually throw him a bone. It may be that one of his sinister tactics is the devastation of his own nation so that the Filipinos would forget, as Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. said in his life and proved in his death, that “the Filipino is worthy dying for.” Today, our citizens are demoralized to the breaking-point. And Duterte, for all his misplaced priorities and lack of concern for his people, seems to be doing it on purpose so that they could be pummeled to submission all the more.

This may make sense, considering his heightened aggression and cruelty to his critics at a time when the country is plagued by the novel coronavirus and is facing economic ruin. He wants to beat the Filipinos to a pulp, silencing them through the Anti-Terror Law, blinding them through the ABS-CBN shutdown, confusing them by employing trolls and appointing comical officials and incompetent retired generals. He seeks to dismantle our democracy. But democracy will fight back. The tyrants of today will be the hanged despots of tomorrow.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.