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February 9, 2015

This is Inquirer’s editorial today.  I describe it as comically inane.   And it needs no explaining why.  If anything, it illustrates just how the quality of anti-Marcos rhetoric has degenerated over the years.  It’s striking how the anti-Marcos forces are yet left puzzling over why they are losing their grip on the younger generation to a supposed well-funded Marcos’ propaganda machine.

In the turbulence that has overtaken the Aquino administration over the disastrous end to the police initiative to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, the voice of Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the dictator’s only son, seems to be a font of reason. We say seem, because appearances can be misleading.

Unlike Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano’s comically abrupt turnabout on the peace process, obviously a knee-jerk reaction to the Mamasapano bloodbath which led to the death of 44 Special Action Force troopers (as well as at least 14 Moro Islamic Liberation Front rebels and four civilians), the younger Marcos has only sharpened his rhetoric, while maintaining a basic position of support for the peace process.

For instance, last Friday he said the following on nationwide TV: “If BBL [the Bangsamoro Basic Law] is crucial to that peace [in Mindanao], then by all means we pass it but let us make sure to avoid bloody encounters or armed warfare in Muslim Mindanao by involving all groups and sectors together for that peace.” Sounds commonsensical enough, a rarity in emotionally charged times.

But he has also said things like the following, on Twitter: “Ang mangyayari ayon sa BBL ay ang mga MILF fighter na pumatay sa ating pulis ay magiging pulis!” A simple translation: “What will happen, according to the BBL, is that the MILF fighters who killed our policemen will become policemen themselves.” This is a horrifying prospect, if true. But in fact this is not necessarily true, unless one assumes, as Marcos does, that all MILF rebels are to become policemen (an impossibility), and that there is no mechanism to identify the rebels who took part in the Mamasapano encounter and bring them to justice.

It is also illogical: He commits the fallacy of amphiboly, hiding behind the vagueness of his terms. Yes, the BBL sees a future where the Bangsamoro will have its own police. Many of those policemen might be MILF rebels who will be integrated into the national police. Therefore, in Marcos’ view, the killers of the SAF will become policemen themselves. There are gaps in this “reasoning” process wide enough to ram his family’s ill-gotten wealth through.

Having conducted hearings on the BBL, he should at least know that there is in fact an inspiring precedent for integration: Since 1995, over 7,000 former Moro National Liberation Front rebels have been successfully integrated into the Armed Forces and the police.

So: By Twitter ye shall really know them.

On Twitter, the younger Marcos has sought to paint a picture of incompetence in the Aquino administration. (That the administration can be incompetent, as was the case with the Luneta hostage-taking incident in 2010 and as seems to be the case with the Mamasapano debacle, makes Marcos look prescient.)

But he cannot resist from trying to score political points. On Feb. 5, for instance, he tweeted: “I spent some time in the military. I know all of these records are sitting on file. I’m sure in the highest levels of the chain of command.”

The next day, an expansive Marcos tweeted something on the military again: “I remember as President, my father was knowledgeable about every military operation. The President would know about an operation this big.”

These are rightly read as criticism of President Aquino’s handling of the operation that sought to capture Marwan, especially the inescapable reality that the chain of command was not followed. But in his zeal, the younger Marcos made a simple but sweeping mistake. For the first time in recent memory, a member of the immediate

Marcos family has admitted that the dictator in fact exercised complete control.

Why is this important? Because in trial after trial, in interview after interview, none of the Marcos family members ever made a similar admission. Even in the infamous racketeering case in New York City which tried Imelda Marcos, with copious documentation of widespread corruption during the dictatorship, the former first lady’s defense was simple: She didn’t know what her late husband had done.

The younger Marcos’ words, then, represent the first time any of his family has publicly admitted that the dictator was “knowledgeable about every military operation.” The thousands of human rights cases confirmed as perpetrated by the Marcos military can now be laid squarely, resolutely, at the dictator’s feet.

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