IT HAS been exactly 36 years since millions of Filipinos gathered along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) to oust the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. and restore true democracy in the Philippines.

The world applauded our country’s triumph, and the EDSA People Power Revolution became a blueprint for other nations to pursue democracy––starting a domino effect of peaceful uprisings that toppled dictatorial regimes all over the world.

But while we left the world in awe by successfully regaining the people’s power and ending Marcos’ two-decade dictatorship without bloodshed, we failed to banish the notorious legacy of Marcos for good.

Corruption and cronyism similar to those fostered by the conjugal dictatorship of Marcos and Imelda Romualdez and the kleptocracy they and their cohorts have continued to bedevil the country.

Democracy continues to be a plaything of despots and pretenders. Rodrigo Duterte tarried up to the last minute to proclaim his presidency and basically told lies during presidential debates, such as jet skiing on Philippine waters to ward off Chinese invaders. In office, he has embraced totalitarian communist China and become Peking’s duck.

Upon election, Duterte threatened to declare martial law and start a revolutionary government. Like Marcos, he used the police and the military to kill off drug suspects, bully his enemies, and suppress human rights.

Come to think of it, Duterte allowed Marcos to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

We thought we’d seen the last of the Marcoses when they were exiled to Hawaii but their return in 1991, permitted by President Corazon Aquino, was the unforeseen revival of their pursuit for political power.

Just a year after their return, the Marcos widow, Imelda, ran for the presidency with brazen confidence. She failed in her bid and finished fifth in the race, but her only son and namesake to the late dictator was victorious in his congressional bid in their home province, Ilocos Norte. 

It took several attempts before they won back more of their power and influence. By 1998, two of the Marcos’ spawns were elected to positions in local government, commencing the clan’s comeback to the country’s political center stage.  

And now, with Marcos Jr. vying for the presidency, we are back to the same spot in 1965, bewitched by the pipe dreams conjured by the same family of plunderers.

If the recent election surveys results, indicating that Marcos Jr. is leading the presidential race, are true, then perhaps the nation has slid back to the morass of corruption and moral iniquity. The reprobate plundering family of the Marcoses and their likes has succeeded in reducing the commemoration of the EDSA Revolution into a mockery of democracy.

With the looming threat of another Marcos presidency, it is time to reawaken the revolutionary spirit within us and be reminded of what sparked the historic protest 36 years ago.

The four-day demonstration was the culmination of a long struggle when rage upon piled up in the heart of the people over the Marcos dictatorship–widespread suppression of human rights, corruption in high places, economic decline, extrajudicial killings, imeldific excesses, monopoly, and cronyism.

During Marcos’ reign of terror, poverty worsened and the country’s debt skyrocketed from $0.36 billion in 1961 during the Macapagal presidency to $28.26 billion in 1986. In 2004, a global corruption report by Transparency International revealed that the Marcoses stole $5 billion to $10 billion during their reign. The heist was so monstrous that it was named “The Greatest Robbery of A Government” by the Guinness World Records. 

Marcos’ rule was also deemed the bloodiest, Amnesty International said that from 1972 to 1981, about 72,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed. In his recent interview with Boy Abunda, Bongbong Marcos has denied all of this. 

To control the public’s access to information, Ferdinand Marcos also took over major media outlets nationwide. This move of Marcos paved the way for him to completely silence his critics and political rivals.

 It is important to relive the Philippines’ dark history as Spanish writer and philosopher George Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” An overused aphorism but still relevant, especially now that it starting to appear as if history is harshly repeating itself.

We must do whatever it takes to prevent the return of the Marcoses to power. Their win will be a slap to all Filipinos who rallied along EDSA to rebuild the democratic institutions destroyed by Marcos.

To elect Marcos Jr. is to condone all the miseries endowed by his family and to trivialize the sufferings of millions of Filipinos under his father’s rule. We owe it to the heroes of EDSA to protect the values they fought for and the democratic institutions they restored.

Marcos’ “golden age” of corruption and human abuses is a historical fact, anything that indicates otherwise is false propaganda. 

The Malacañang Palace may be the official residence of the head of the state, but the Filipino people own it.  As granted by the powers of democracy, we are its owner. We are the ones who decide which family gets to be invited back to the executive mansion, and to all the homes in the country. 

Which is why the million-dollar question is: are you willing to invite thieves back to your home?


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