Thirty-five years ago, the term of Ferdinand E. Marcos (1965-86), the closest U.S. vassal in Southeast Asia, ended. It was the first media – fully illuminated change of power in a country of the so-called Third World-sometimes praised exuberantly as a “miracle”, sometimes as a “Rosary revolution”. For nearly five years, Rodrigo R. Duterte, a president in Manila who sees himself as an ardent admirer of Marcos, has been in office, and whose outrages, concerning the human rights situation in the island state alone, still overshadow those of Marcos.
35 years ago – from 22 to 25 February 1986 – “People Power” dominated the cityscape of the metropolis of Manila and sealed the end of the Marcos dictatorship with worldwide sympathy. With the help of the military and under US aegis, the new president Corazon C. Aquino guaranteed a return to elite democracy-ultimately against the people.
In August 1983, Marcos ' fiercest political rival, opposition politician Benigno S. Aquino (husband of the future president), was shot dead on the runway of Manila airport after returning from temporary asylum in the United States. Since then, hardly a day has passed when there was no protest anywhere in and outside the capital. This was increasingly joined by members of the upper classes. Until this broad anti-dictatorial protest movement, which went down in the history of the country as the" Parliament of the Street", finally came to power on 22 September. February 1986 to the" last skirmish " blew. Three days later, on the evening of February 25th, she had reached her destination. Celebrated euphorically as an icon of democracy and a bearer of hope, the widow of the former Marcos challenger, Corazon C. Aquino-affectionately and everywhere briefly called “Cory” – was now the new head of the Presidential Palace Malacañang.
Marcos - Era of a bearer of hope
This abruptly ended the era of a man long regarded as Washington’s most reliable ally in Southeast Asia at the time of the Vietnam War and the Cold War era. When Ferdinand E. Marcos moved into the Malacañang Palace in Manila at the end of 1965, two things inspired the young head of state. Domestically and economically, he wanted to implement his campaign slogan We shall be a great nation again (“We will be a great nation again”) as quickly as possible. In terms of foreign and security policy, he wanted to be loyal to the former colonial power USA (1898-1946) and to maintain Washington’s military hegemonic position in Southeast and East Asia with the continued provision of what was at that time the world’s largest US bases outside the North American continent, the Subic Naval Base and the Clark Air Field.
Export orientation as a development strategy
A targeted incentive policy for foreign capital should enable the agrarian – oriented country, characterized by feudal structures, to connect with the Western industrial states-almost in a time lapse. Cadres trained at US political and economic faculties were ready to serve Marcos, just as his government increasingly relied on the expertise of such technocrats. Export orientation, they both believed, would lead to increased capital investments, create jobs and prosperity, which would ultimately benefit everyone.
For large landowners and businessmen, there would be a promising opportunity to acquire the know-how necessary for all-round development in conjunction with foreign capital. Residents such as Singapore, Hong Kong and South Korea served as role models. This strategy required reliable control bodies in order to be implemented in practice. Centralization and concentration of state power(apparatuses) were the result. Economic planning authorities (such as the National Economic and Development Authority, NEDA) drafted concrete steps for “national renewal”, while a political and military process was set in motion to immunize the new economic and development strategy against possible disturbances (protest, strikes, resistance).
The expansion of the infrastructure was also a central component of the counterinsurgency strategy, which was initiated by the US Development Agency (USAID) from the end of 1966. This resulted in the increase of the Philippine military and police units as well as training courses for Philippine officers at US military academies. In addition, civic action programs were designed, which were “refined” in Vietnam. These were citizen-oriented projects (e.g. Distribute food and medicines, as well as (dental)medical screening), in order to win “the hearts and minds of the population,” especially of the rural population in the Hinterland, where large-scale infrastructure (construction of roads, bridges, ports) were planned.
In Manila until the early 1970s, a capital command (METROCOM) had been created specifically for counterinsurgency purposes and supported by the US Office for Public Safety (OPS). Thus, the Marcos regime had powerful instruments to counter political protest of any kind “efficiently”. For already at that time there was massive resistance to the first effects of the new economic policy from the ranks of urban transport workers, students, small businesses and parts of the national bourgeoisie. In addition, the Communist Party (CPP) and its guerrillas, the New People’s Army (NPA), as well as the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), which fought for independence in the south of the country, had formed military formations that challenged the state security forces.
Martial law and (armed) resistance
In order to secure the domestic political framework of economic policy and not to let the Philippines topple over as another “domino” in the face of the looming US debacle in Vietnam, as feared by US strategists, Marcos imposed martial law nationwide in September 1972. In US congressional hearings it was later said that in the case of the Philippines it was more about the preservation of strategic and security interests of the USA than about the preservation of democracy and human rights in the archipelago. A position that the former CIA chief and then US Vice President George Bush Sr. had already explicitly underlined in early 1981 during his state visit to Manila.
Martial law gave Marcos a considerable amount of power, which he weidlich used to eliminate and lock up political opponents, to ban trade unions and free media, and to take violent action against everything that defied his claim to power. The result was a militarisation of the state and society. The military alone was increased from 62,000 to almost 285,000 men between 1972 and the mid-1980s. The Integrated National Police / Philippine Constabulary (forerunner of today’s Philippine National Police, PNP) was also expanded and a large number of paramilitary vigilantes were formed. Moreover, armed sects formed, operating under such dazzling names as Rock Christ, New Jerusalem, Charitable Philippine Missionary Association, or Lost Command.
In addition, officers were involved in government-owned as well as foreign companies. At the beginning of the 1980s, more than half of all senior presidential officials recruited for regional development projects from the ranks of the military. The Oplan Katatagan (Operation Plan Stability), which was simultaneously elevated to a valid military strategy, aimed primarily at breaking up the infrastructure and logistics of the “Communist subversion” and “Muslim secession efforts” in the south of the country. Integral parts of the Oplan Katatagan were: Hamletting (“strategic defensive villages”), salvaging (extrajudicial executions of suspected “rebels”), zoning (combing entire residential districts and blocks of houses where “insurgents” were suspected), base denial (bombing certain areas in order to “deny” NPA guerrillas potential bases or retreat areas) as well as massacres, torture and arson. According to estimates by the Philippine Red Cross, 5.7 million people, over a tenth of the population, were displaced in this way from 1972 to the mid-1980s. The victims were mainly urban poor, slum dwellers, farmers, ethnic minorities and Muslims in the south.
All these measures were aimed primarily at removing the breeding ground of the then world’s fastest growing NPA guerrilla (with nearly 30,000 combatants). As part of the underground opposition alliance of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) formed in 1973, which at the time had about one million members and a mass base of about ten million people, NPA associations operated in 62 of the then 73 provinces-in some places already in battalion strength. New recruits had assumed such proportions that a study by the US Senate Intelligence Committee, chaired by US Senator David Durenburger, feared that the NPA could create a “strategic stalemate” within three years.
Ideologically, Marcos concealed martial law, which he wanted to be understood as “constitutional authoritarianism”, with the simultaneous beginning of a “New Society”: Isang Bansa, Isang Diwa (One Nation, one Spirit) was henceforth called the regime slogan, the Filipino variant of the ideas that Brazil’s security ideologist, General Golbery de Couto e Silva, had once categorically formulated: “The nation is absolute or it is nothing. A nation cannot tolerate any limitation of its absolute power.”
Aquino-Murder and rapid social polarization
The assassination of leading opposition politician Benigno Aquino Jr. at Manila airport (August 21, 1983) it was not the cause, but the decisive trigger of a rapidly escalating social, political and economic crisis of the regime. It should not recover from this. Until its final fall in the spring of 1986, not a day passed without protest rallies, demonstrations and strikes. Harsh social polarization turned into a process of progressive isolation of Marcos and his followers.
A qualitatively new Element in the growing Anti-Marcos-Front was henceforth the urban bourgeoisie. For a long time it had been politically abstinent and had hoped for a peaceful change. With the shots at his figurehead Aquino, this option had disappeared. Aquino, Scion of a wealthy landowning family, was a shrewd politician who had begun his political lightning career in Central Luzon (North of Manila). He and Marcos were politically united in the Liberal Party until the mid-1960s, when the latter moved to the camp of the opposition Nationalist Party and ran as its presidential candidate in the 1965 elections.
Aquino’s own presidential ambitions were abruptly thwarted by the imposition of martial law. He spent eight years in prison until Marcos let him leave for the USA for bypass surgery. After three years of self - exile, he returned to Manila, inspired by the hope that together with the politically active Cardinal Jaime Sin, Archbishop of Manila and head of the Catholic Church in the country, Marcos at the green table would change his mind to national reconciliation and reconciliation in order to banish the “growing communist danger”. In Aquino’s view, opposition meant a political exchange of elites, not a structural change.
A massive capital flight as a result of the Aquino murder seized the metropolis of Manila. The regime had to announce a temporary debt moratorium, while the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) tightened their thumbscrews more and more. In order to obtain urgently needed bridging loans, Manila had to commit itself to strict compliance with the IMF’s dictates in the framework of various structural adjustment programmes. These included the removal of price controls and a “continued moderate wage policy”, investment cuts and the drastic increase in internal (direct and indirect) tax revenues, the elimination of all foreign trade restrictions and the restriction of the Central Bank’s foreign exchange trading, as well as the floating of the national currency, the peso, and the cessation of almost all food subsidies.
However, instead of an export increase projected by the IMF, export earnings fell and at the same time imports decreased, which led to more and more company closures in view of the extreme import burden in the processing sector. In 1984 alone, 1,500 businesses had to declare bankruptcy and close the factory gates. Unemployment was rampant in the greater Manila area. The situation in the countryside was by no means more bearable. In 1985, more than 200,000 seasonal workers lost their source of income in the sugar cane fields of the island of Negros in the central Philippines, leading to an acute famine there. The sugar prices had sunk so low that not even the production costs could be covered.
Intensive crisis management in Washington
Alarmed by such events, since the fall of 1983, everything of rank and file in Washington has traveled to the Philippines to study the extent of the unrest on the ground. The creation of the Intergovernmental Task Force on the Philippines was a concrete expression of the desire to put a stop to this and “pull the rug from under the feet of the communist guerrillas.” This was a cross-agency body of representatives from the Pentagon, State Department, CIA, US Treasury, White House and international bankers, which was launched in the same year. This round should formulate a clearly coordinated policy vis-à-vis Manila.
However, disagreements emerged in this round, which temporarily hampered a consistent Philippines policy. In short, the frictions could be characterized as follows: the Treasury Department, the IMF and the White House were primarily interested in the “economic recovery” of Manila and only secondarily focused on overcoming the political and legitimacy crisis of the regime. In any attempt to upgrade Marcos, however, the State Department saw a politically counterproductive undertaking. In view of the social contradictions, according to his officials, this resembled an effort to “squeeze toothpaste back into the tube”.
The State Department favored the “moderate” bourgeois opposition with Salvador H. Laurel as a figurehead and Lieutenant General Fidel V. Ramos, a Korean and Vietnam war veteran trained at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. This should have been promoted to chief of the General Staff according to the seniority principle and military Code of Honor. But Marcos had attached this post to a relative and the former head of his bodyguard, General Fabian C. Ver. Thus Ramos had to content himself with merely acting as vice of Marcos intimus.
The State Department finally submitted an instructive economic, political and military situation assessment in November 1984. This 26-page study was entitled “U.S. Policy Towards the Philippines” and served as the basis for U.S. President Ronald Reagan’s National Security Directive signed in January 1985. This included a bundle of 16 “high priority changes” to eliminate the risk that radicalization in the Philippines would “destabilize the entire region.” Among other things, Marcos was expected to be less rigid in his administration, to abolish the presidential preventive law and to break up the clientele economy in the sugar and copra sectors that supported him. Sibylline said in this document: “Marcos is part of the problem, but necessarily also part of its solution.”
Early election – revolt in the military
In plain language: Marcos was therefore only tactically durable. Of strategic interest, however, was an alliance of less corrupt, efficiency-minded military men under Ramos and politicians from the moderate bourgeois spectrum. While Washington distanced itself from the “voice of its master” and its longtime protégé was pushed to snap elections in May and October 1985 by CIA chief William Casey, who had travelled to Manila specifically, and Reagan’s special representative, Senator Paul Laxalt, Marcos had no choice but to bow to this Octroi. At the end of November 1985, he announced in interviews with US television stations that February 7, 1986 would be the date of such elections. Thus, Washington conspicuously deviated from the previously categorically pursued line, according to which it was necessary to support his vassals to the bitter end.
So agitated and polarized was the mood in the run-up to and during this election that its result was as clear to the dwindling crowd of Marcos supporters as it was to the camp of his opponents. Reports of massive electoral fraud and postponements flipped. As a result, both Marcos and his opponent, the late “Cory” Aquino, who had been nominated by the moderate opposition, considered themselves the winner of each election. The final result of the election ultimately did not matter any more, as just on 22. On February 14, with Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and the then Deputy Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Fidel V. Ramos, two former closest confidants of the president turned away from him and entrenched themselves in the respective headquarters of police and regular forces. Long before the word" wendehals " was created and made courteous, it was Enrile and Ramos who were supposed to make history as its prototypical incarnations.
Celebrated “miracle revolution” with tailwind of the Mother of God
In those days, Manila resembled a gigantic stage of an even more gigantic political open air festival. Even more: as a Roman Catholic bastion in Southeast Asia, where deep religiosity often forms a wondrous amalgam with high-dose superstition, numerous heavenly-feeling festival visitors saw themselves surrounded so much by rosaries, miracles and the Virgin Mary that in 1989 a shrine with an oversized statue was dedicated in honor of the latter. So it was almost self-evident that the days of the Marcos overthrow in the country itself alternated into the annals as “rosary”, “miracle” and/or “people power revolution”. And: In the final phase of the Cold War and due to the presence of well over a thousand international media reporters, this was also the first televised change of power in a country of the so-called Third world.
Enrile, who appeared in combat uniform with considerable publicity, his fingers on the trigger of an UZI submachine gun, had gone through thick and thin with Marcos since his first election victory in 1965. Before becoming Defense Minister, he held other high government posts and was considered a corset pole of his regime for Marcos. As his sidekick, from 1972 to 1981 even supreme administrator of martial law, he had made millions and millions of dollars from an economic empire built up by the coconut industry and logging, working purposefully upwards from an adopted child to a lawyer. Ramos, who liked to present himself in machomaniacs with cigar butts in the corner of his mouth, a graduate of the US Military Academy in West Point, a Korean and Vietnam War veteran as well as a passionate parachutist, headed the Integrated National Police/Philippine Constabulary, the forerunner of today’s Philippine National Police, a force that had been repeatedly criticized nationally and internationally for its human rights violations.
Higher orders & liturgical Protest
The Archbishop of Manila, Jaime Cardinal Sin, who was equally at home in secular and religiously domed power domes, presented himself as another important protagonist of that time. As the supreme shepherd of the predominantly Roman Catholic country, he believed that the divine was at work between 22 and 25 February. Invisible, but omnipresent, the Mother of God stepped between the opponents on Manila’s sprawling urban highway, the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). Nuns and priests, united in prayer, hung the planted bayonets of a hypnotized, suddenly domesticated state power with rosaries and flowers. Such an unexpected greeting was answered with the very sign of victory of the opposition: the thumb and index finger spread to the “L” (for “Laban”, fight).
Through the Catholic radio station Radio Veritas, which was blessed with funds from the USA, from Opus Dei and from Germany through the CSU-affiliated Hanns Seidel Foundation, the media-savvy cardinal called for a mass walk of a special kind. Meeting point: the headquarters of the National Police and Armed Forces, Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo, opposite the EDSA vis-à-vis. Those places, then, where Ramos and Enrile had barricaded themselves with an hourly growing crowd of mutineers and followers, expecting there to be an attack by the generals still loyal to Marcos.
But such an order of attack from the presidential palace was not forthcoming. Meanwhile, the crowd gathered on and along the EDSA was too large for a violent, even overtly military intervention to have meant a massacre of monstrous proportions. What a change and change of mind! For years, the state law enforcement officers had been referred to behind closed doors as buwaya (crocodiles), to which they could keep their distance. And now the people were looking for proximity to soldiers, indeed they gave them food and drink in addition to flowers and rosaries, which hours before had been regarded as the hard-boiled representatives of a deposed despot. Camp Crame and Camp Aguinaldo, once control centers of feared state terror, now resembled an army camp of peacefulness. In such a situation, the soldiers, who had mutated into rebels overnight, did not want to shoot. And the crumbling phalanx of the Marcos faithful could not (anymore) shoot.
People Power everywhere
The unknown, unpredictable greatness remained the people. These included the peasants, who were treated worse than their water buffaloes; the workers, who had been maltreated with starvation wages, unpaid overtime and strike bans; the fishermen, rehabilitated by the town planners of a Grandezza and pomp-obsessed First Lady Imelda; the street vendors with their offered cough drops, chewing gum, slimy-tough chicken skewers and fragrant sampaguita wreaths; the middle classes, students, nurses, divided and quarreling with themselves as to whether they should seek happiness and fulfilment at home or as overseas workers abroad; finally, the exclusive landowner class and the bourgeoisie wallowing in extravagances, surrounded by a throng of cool technocrats and eloquent soufflés from science, art and the church.
All of them, who normally separate many things, found each other at the EDSA, briefly only, but empathetically, in order to immediately immerse themselves again in their world of “gated communities” or “shanties”. What remained, musically conjured from all sides, was a song that became a hyper anthem in the spring of 1986 – alongside the anti-colonial song Ang Bayan Ko and the 1972 American pop song Tie a yellow ribbon. It was called Handog ng Pilipino sa Mundo and its composer was Jim Paredes. “See,” reads one verse of this song, “what is happening in our country! Rich and poor join together for a nonviolent path to change, truth, freedom and justice.”
Yellow, yellow above all
Color symbols came into their own en masse. In addition to the" immaculate “white, the green of the old political fox and” Cory’s “vice, Salvador” Doy “Laurel, whose influential Marcos family had owed his political career, the red of the left and parts of the” parliament of the street "" People Power “etc.” Revolution albums " circulated just as quickly for those who could easily shell out half an average month’s wages, and in a more affordable, less ornate booklet form. In the middle section, removable, was inserted a numbered certificate printed on parchment paper. It certified the owner’s participation in the" Miracle Revolution of February 22 to 25, 1986 " and waited only for notarial certification.
People Power was the key concept and subsequently clarified the character of the “revolution” in conjunction with the adjectives “miracle”, “rosary” and “nonviolent”. The term people power was coined by Aquino’s closest advisors who wanted to contradict this? Ideally, it captured the mood of a fiesta that the country had not experienced before and probably will not experience again! The furious finale of this most famous of all Fiestas Filipiniana was the roaring rotor blades of US military helicopters that flew the Marcos‘ in the dark from the Presidential Palace to the US Air Force base Clark Air Field north of Manila. Not the president’s home province, Paoay in Ilocos Norte, but exile in Hawaii was the final destination of a long transport!
On the morning of the same day (25 February), Marcos had been celebrated as the winner of the election by Claqueurs on the balcony of his Malacañang Palace on the murky Pasig River. But the longtime magician of power, once admired, now reviled, had played out. His face looked limp, as if staring, already modelled in wax in a dusty corner by Madame Tussauds, at their more expressive cabinet figures. “Put an end to it, a clean exit,” US President Ronald Reagan’s special envoy, Senator Paul Laxalt, had told him by telephone moments earlier. The moor had done his duty and duty, now he could – no: had to – step off the stage.
What a telegenic spectacle! There a despotic darkling who clung convulsively to power and favors until the end, here the light figure dressed alternately in white and yellow and immaculate housewife “Cory”, who was preparing to boldly carry on the political legacy of her murdered husband! The latter claimed her victory as a finale, surrounded by masses of the people once again streaming in, as if to celebrate itself and the resurrection of democracy. In those moments," Cory " embodied the mariological element so dominant in insular Catholicism – a distant reflection of a pre-colonial era, before the Spanish conquistadors from 1571 to 1898 completely cemented their macho domination throughout the country.
Red among others
And the radical Left in the form of the Communist Party (CPP), reconstituted in 1968 on the basis of Marxism-Leninism and the Mao Zedong ideas, with its guerrilla of the New People’s Army (NPA), founded three months later? After Marcos' proclamation of martial law in the spring of 1973, it had formed itself as part of the underground opposition alliance of the National Democratic Front (NDFP) and propagated an anti-imperialist, anti-feudalist and anti-fascist respectively anti-dictatorial struggle as its own secular “doctrine of the Trinity”. With the aim of gradually conquering the cities from the hinterland through a protracted people’s war and establishing a people’s democratic rule – a course that Mao Zedong had once pursued in China.
Until the mid-1980s, the NDFP, with its more than a dozen member organizations to date, was undoubtedly the ideological, political and organizational hegemonic force in the fight against the hated Marcos regime. They were NDFP members who, from the very beginning and most fiercely, resisted the dictatorship and at the same time paid the highest blood tax. But especially the CPP-NPA fatally underestimated the particular dynamics of the anti-dictatorial struggle after the Aquino murder. Unorganized leftists or leftists in other political groups were secretly regarded as suspicious if they felt “only” committed to the democratic struggle and were not to be sworn to an anti-imperialist-anti-feudal course.
This ultimately led to the CPP dismissing the early election on 7 February 1986 as a “riot”, overestimating Marcos beyond measure at this stage and believing his victory to be a foregone conclusion. Accordingly, the Executive Committee of the Politburo (Political Bureau) of the Central Committee of the party called for an electoral boycott in a narrow majority vote, leaving far greater scope for political-organizational action on the left beyond the NDFP and the dazzling “Parliament of the Street”. With the consequence that a little later tens of comrades turned away from the party, disillusioned in internal exile licked wounds or henceforth exclusively dedicated themselves to the parliamentary struggle.
Since the mid-1970s, the NDFP has been a formidable force, with over one million members and a mass base of about ten million people on the eve of the Marcos overthrow. NPA associations operated in 62 of the then 73 provinces-in some places already in battalion strength. New recruits had assumed an extent that the NPA, with nearly 30,000 combatants, was classified by US military experts as the “world’s fastest growing guerrilla” at the time.
“Cory” quickly fulfilled her election promise to release the political prisoners of the Marcos regime. But this did not prevent them from simultaneously guaranteeing immunity to all those who had been guilty of human rights violations. This was to be avenged during her reign: seven coup attempts could only be repelled thanks to the decisive intervention of the Chief of the General Staff and later Defense Minister Fidel V. Ramos. In general: it was Ramos who pulled the actual strings and ultimately ruled “Cory”. Instead of opening up more opportunities for political participation to their inclined organizations, the presidential cabinet, increasingly enforced with hardliners and militarists, steered a course that completely lost sight of the concerns of the people.
Aquino rejected the critical cooperation offered to the president by numerous progressive forces and individuals, preferring instead to rely fully on the US-inspired doctrine of the “low-intensity conflict” and the “total war"concept (absolute war) against everything (supposedly) on the left. Even bloodthirsty vigilantes, who prided themselves on publicly flaunting the severed heads of “communists” as “trophies,” described the president as the “embodiment of people power.” In doing so, it not only carried out the business of the right-wing, conservative and reactionary forces, but also ensured that the pre-Marcos elasticity of Philippine elite democracy was restored. For example, Enrile: he remained head of the Defense Ministry under Aquino, although he later distanced himself from the president and would have liked to have seen her slip away. Then he continued to speak of himself as a wealthy businessman, became a member of the Senate, and later moved to the House of Representatives and re-entered the Senate, where the now 97-year-old temporarily served as its president.
The simultaneous confluence of all these factors – the sudden departure of an important segment of the state security forces from Marcos, a newly tested crisis management that was as shrewd as it was successful on the part of Washington, a light figure “Cory” Aquino euphorically supported by the powerful clergy and the powerful metropolitan population, as well as the media projection of an old despot as a worn – out darkling-formed the explosive fabric from which “People Power” was woven. Although those turbulent days at the end of February 1986 meant a lot and raised the highest hopes, telegenic Machtrochaden finally prevailed to the exclusion of” people’s power " (Volksmacht) and to avoid a revolution of the same kind.
With the US airstrikes on the Libyan coastal cities of Tripoli and Benghazi codenamed “Operation El Dorado Canyon” on April 15, 1986 in retaliation for an alleged Libyan-led attack against the Berlin nightclub La Belle a few days earlier and with the nuclear disaster of Chernobyl two weeks later, the exalted coverage of the change of power in distant Manila came to an abrupt end. Since then, the Philippines has only received international attention in the event of natural disasters such as typhoons, volcanic eruptions or floods. Or there were once again hostages in the extreme south of the archipelago in the “care” of the Abu Sayyaf, who were classified as terrorist – but only as long as they were at least “Western” hostages.
Just 35 years after Marcos ' fall, a man in Manila’s Presidential palace Malacañang, whose term officially ends next summer, is holding office with ardent Marcos admirer Rodrigo Roa Duterte, while family members of the idol he adores are still heavily involved in the country’s politics. Imee, for example, is the oldest Marcos scion in the Senate, while other relatives consider Ilocos Norte their home province as their private principality, where they hold all important political positions-whether as governor, mayor or municipal councillors. None of the Marcos family spent even one day behind bars, and the bulk of the Marcos couple’s once-looted government funds, the amount of which the Intelligence Unit of the London-based business journal The Economist estimated at between five and six billion US dollars, has not yet been secured.
Although Duterte has rarely shown himself in public in recent weeks, preferring instead to appear in recorded video clips late on Monday evening, it is currently high-ranking soldiers and police officers, former military officers and hand-picked bureaucrats who determine the day’s events. With devastating consequences: the country suffered the longest and toughest lockdown in the region during the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the most devastating contraction of gross domestic product by about ten percent, while the bulk of the population is deprived of mass tests, effective economic aid, vaccinations and other vital services. Destructive mining and deforestation activities continue in the climate of heated militarization, in whose crosshairs primarily indigenous people in the south and in the central part of the country find themselves. Smuggling with imported food contributes to the destruction of local food production and fueled hunger and disease in many places after catastrophic environmental destruction (typhoons and floods).
Many NGOs and human rights organizations, both at home and abroad, are looking forward to the next sessions of the United Nations Human Rights Council and to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where they will launch an indictment for crimes against humanity against Duterte’s anti - drug war with an estimated 28,000 to 30,000 victims of “extrajudicial executions”.
One thing is certain, despite all the historical revisionism that ultra-right and reactionary elements have attempted, according to which the Marcos period was a “golden era”: whoever has a duterte does not need a Marcos (anymore)!