By Senator Bongbong Marcos
Originally posted at Facebook page
In response to several queries (it’s that time of the year — EDSA anniversary) on my take on the declaration of Martial Law and the events that took place in February of 1986, there is really nothing more I can add to what I’ve already said over the last two decades; and what happened in the past cannot be changed.
But just to reiterate my view of that period of our history, and for the sake of those too young or yet to be born in the early 70’s, let me try and summarize how I see it. Martial Law was declared at a time different from now and I say this not only in regard to the Philippines but throughout the world including in western democracies where the youth of those nations rebelled against the established norms of that era. In the United States, armed clashes between civilians and police were frequent and groups such as the Black Panthers, The Weathermen, Students for a Democratic Society, Chicago Seven, and others, openly declared war against their government, the most powerful in the world. Then, even the US military had to be called out to quell violent demonstrations across their country resulting in deaths of students such as in the infamous “Kent State University Massacre.” There, at the heart of halcyon middle-class America, the US National Guards open-fired at the student demonstrators killing four students and wounding several others. Bombings of government buildings, arson, street violence were widespread across the US and in capitals across Western Europe – London, Paris, Madrid, Rome, and other cities in Europe. Manila, as well as other Asian capitals, was no exception. University students here took the same road of militancy and were linked to leftist labor unions and communist insurgents, and street violence was likewise widespread in urban areas of the country.
Even for a young 15 year old like I was then, the militancy of that epoch was palpable. But as I’ve said previously, and at the risk of disappointing, I will leave to historians, impartial and trained in their field, to pass judgment on the merits of the declaration of Martial Law seen in that context as it should be.
As for what took place in February of 1986, twenty-six years ago to this month, again, I am in no position to pass judgment that would be seen as impartial simply because of my obvious personal involvement. Most of what we hear now from all sides are still within the ambit of propaganda. But I certainly am concerned with the state of our country today, more than a quarter of a century since the experience of EDSA1, as it has come to be known.
I have chosen not to indulge in the “blame game” and rather, invest my energy in helping move this country forward. But if comparisons are to be made, and if there is a need to evaluate the road taken since then and what has resulted from it, it’s not difficult to arrive at answers, provided we ask the right questions. Has poverty been alleviated? Is the wealth of the country more equitably distributed? Do we have more jobs available at home? Has there been a rise in the quality of our education? Are we self sufficient in our daily food requirements? Is there less hunger? Crime? Insurgency? Corruption? Basic services? Health? The same questions can be asked of other countries, our neighboring countries specifically, and see whether we can answer the same way they would. China, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia can all point to the progress they have made these last twenty six years but unfortunately, for the majority of our people, nothing much has changed and today, and just this morning, a survey placed our unemployment rate at 24% or close to 10 Million unemployed adults. The country’s economic performance last year sunk to a dismal 3.7% growth.
The problems we face remain daunting and there is still that need for Filipinos to unite and face these challenges as one nation, with a singular aim and direction, with a leadership that is willing to make sacrifices and capable of harnessing the talents of our people. We have seen what our neighbors have been able to achieve in the last 26 years. There is no reason why we cannot at least match their achievements if not do better. We need to change the politics of this country. Our leaders cannot be forever squabbling, engaging in vindictiveness, wasting energy and government resources in putting each other down at the expense of those that need help the most.
Blaming past administrations will not bring food to the plates of the hungry. Excuses cannot substitute for performance and results. Promises without delivery only feed the anger of the people. Before it’s too late, let us all roll up our sleeves and get to work for the betterment of our country. For all and not just for some. If there is need for change in people’s attitudes and habits, let that change begin with ourselves. There is no argument more eloquently made than the one made by example. In a nut-shell, and for the media that have asked for my comments, that’s my “take” on EDSA1 that’s to be celebrated this weekend. It really has not varied much over the years. Good-night and a good weekend ahead for all of us.