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August 28, 2014

Accomplishments and the verdict of history

Just as time heals all wounds, so too time provides a better perspective from where to view the entire picture.   The benefit of hindsight and the advantage of comparison comes at hand.  There too are startling revelations that have since emerged piece by piece from the woodwork completing some of the missing fragments.  Then there’s the younger generation with its more detached and less involved disposition.

As it is, the younger set must be profoundly baffled that the President its elders call evil has to his name a long, long list of sterling achievements unmatched even by his successors put together.  It is an incongruous picture.  He can’t be evil who was into building schools, bridges and highways, dams and irrigation systems, hospitals and medical centers, science and technology research centers, power plants, culture and arts hubs and many more, on such a massive scale at such a rapid, resolute pace.  He can’t be malevolent who was working hard presiding over the implementation of wide-ranging strategic programs formulated by some of the best minds in their particular fields. Indeed, one with some knowledge in economics and government would readily see a leader endeavoring to set down the groundwork and the basic building blocks of development. Any which way you look now, these could not be the handiwork of one with a depraved mind out to destroy a country.

The anti-Marcos forces love to recount just how Marcos allegedly wreaked havoc on the nation by declaring Martial Law and assuming dictatorial powers in 1972 and thereafter leading the massive pillage of the economy.   In fact, all our failings they attribute to that point in history.    But they probably need to work harder to sell this assertion to the younger set now, by offering more particulars and details on, say, how pillage and ruin were carried out, and how such other crimes were pulled off. Sweeping, across-the-board allegations often bordering on hate mongering do not cut it anymore. The young have grown bored over constant declarations that Marcos is a crook but would not offer ironclad evidence to back it up.

What’s more, how does the present compare with those times to impress the young minds?   A dysfunctional government of happy incompetents and moral hypocrites. Poverty and hunger getting worse and spreading. Infrastructure crumbling.  Basic commodities so expensive.  Massive unemployment.  Decreasing productivity.  Dismal investments.     Decrepit armed forces.  Endemic corruption.  High cost of power (one of the highest in the world) and soon, rotating blackouts. Rising criminality.  And more,  all indicative of deterioration.

Hey, if Marcos should indeed be blamed for anything, it goes without saying that after his departure, which was nearly thirty years ago, things should have become much better now— but no.  The more perceptive ones among the younger set likely understands that if not for the foreign remittances of Filipinos working abroad, among them their parents and relatives, we would be long bankrupt, a failed state.   The most compelling repudiation being, how have we fallen so far behind our neighbors in the region where even Vietnam is posing to overtake us– after Marcos.  The ‘plunderer’ is long gone, for Gods sake, what happened?

In the end, Marcos will be judged by his accomplishments and by how he compares with the other Presidents.  The younger set of historians has yet to peruse mountains of documents, aside from those that have since become public, to make an objective and rational judgment.  But I believe he would be vindicated.  Facts will eventually win over overused propaganda.  Rational, well thought out argument will triumph over the screeching noisiness of the intellectually and morally conceited.

Marcos certainly had his failings and mistakes, as a President and as an individual.   But it is one thing to accuse a President of wrong policies, bad judgment,  mistaken strategies or errors in implementation which resulted in devastating consequences.  It is another to attribute a chronic malignancy of the mind and character, to think him as constantly in the act of devising evil schemes to destroy and gain riches for himself, and to accuse him of all sorts of grievous crimes, altogether implying that the man is one the baddest man who ever lived.

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