I promised myself I would stick to positive news but one of the aspects of my #TwoWeeksAsATitan and #WhatWouldBransonDo is to speak out about issues that concern me.
January first hit us with a viral post from Gang Badoy about a “Compromise Proposal” sent to the Department of Justice and Presidential Palace. In line with my promise to myself, I didn’t share it on social media but I do want to make a few comments on what it was and how I think we can really move on from Marcos.
Several things popped out about this proposal that made the internet go into frenzy:
- The compromise deal refuses to admit any guilt, disregards all successful claims on ill-gotten wealth, and claims that the remainder of the “Marcos Wealth” is allegedly ill-gotten.
- The narrative of the document attempts to make the “Compromise Agreement” as a gift from the Marcos Family to the Philippines to “help us” get out of debt, and to fight poverty and criminality.
- Plausible deniability is created because it comes from a lawyer and is not from the Marcos Family.
This pisses me off for several reasons:
- There is no acknowledgement of the crimes committed.
- It tries to turn the Marcos family into the “good guys” which hints of more political power play over the next few years.
- The whole situation pours salt on an open wound as we remember how the current administration, like thieves in the night, fulfilled a campaign promise to bury the dictator in the Hero’s Cemetery,
I want to make it very clear. I believe there can be no moving on and no real compromise without true reconciliation.
Any compromise created without acknowledging the facts and our history will only perpetuate more of the same.
To reconcile is to make beliefs compatible with one another. To allow wealth to be “returned” but to not acknowledge over 170 billion pesos of theft is NOT compatible. To give a “gift” to resolve debt and also be the ones who caused the debt is NOT compatible. And, to claim to support the fight against criminality when the Marcos family made efforts to block $40 million reparations to the survivors of Martial Law crimes is NOT compatible.
That being said these are some ways I believe, based on history, how we can really reconcile and move on:
1) Give the short battles teeth BUT move efforts to the long battle ahead.
We as a collective need to fight the efforts of this administration to water down the efforts to reclaim the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcos family and pay reparations to the victims of the bloody dictatorship.
BUT I believe we need to focus on the longer battles ahead.
I personally believe the time for chasing money and trying to make Marcoses pay for their crimes has expired. We need to be fighting the long battles that take generations. Because, after 30 years, we are losing.
This means turning these commissions into law. Create legislation around educating our youth. This administration has shown more often than not that executive decisions can be erased.
With that being said…
2) Fight misinformation on the ground and in the chamber.
Long battle: We need to push our lawmakers to create legislation against Martial Law Denial.
To fight the rise of anti-semitism in Europe. Several countries after World War 2 made it illegal to deny the holocaust. This of course came with backlash but has ultimately allowed generations to reconcile from the tragedy.
Especially with the rise of social media and fake news. We need to ensure that those who are most vulnerable to miseducation are defended from propaganda.
Short Battle: Call people out and encourage dialogue.
Create conversations around the facts. Don’t let misinformation spread. But keep in mind there will be people who just want to create noise. If you listen and they don’t do the same, save your energy on the longer battles.
3) Education. Education. Education.
Long Term: We need to continue to encourage Martial Law Education beyond the executive efforts of adding it to DepEd curriculum.
In the same way we have the R.A. 1425 which makes it a legal requirement to include Rizal’s life and works into the curriculum, we need a similar law for the Martial Law period. This means a full view look at the historical period as course in Grade School, High School and College, socio-economic issues and having required readings (read: The Conjugal Dictatorship).
Short Term: Volunteer to teach a class, find ways to insert it into your programs, or share relevant information to your circle.
One of the most fulfilling things I did as a public school professor was spend a week of National Service Training Program time to educate my students on the victims of Martial Law crimes. The main point was not to politicize discussion but to give voice to injustices and mostly untold stories. These were 400 young minds at a time listening and empathizing.
English teacher? Have them read a Martial Law History book and great them on reading comprehension. Education teacher? Teach them historical analysis by showing how public school text books portray the period compared to other accounts. Not a teacher? Organize a group discussion or book club. There’s so many ways we can keep ourselves informed.
4) Remove the monuments and physical remnants of Ferdinand Marcos.
Long term: Legal changes to road names, monuments and statues. Replace them with names of Martial Law Victims. Build more museums and statues to commemorate their stories.
If you ask me this should have been done years ago (some efforts have been made but none comprehensive enough to make a dent). I’ve always wondered how we still have a Marcos Road or Marcos Highway.
I go back to the example of Europe and Germany. You will never see a statue or road named after Hitler. Why? They made it a law.
From the same article:
“It would take time, generational change and external events to make Germany what it is today—a vibrant democracy that is notably less permissive of racism, extremism and fascism than the United States. Tearing down the symbols of Nazi terror was a necessary first step—but it didn’t ensure overnight political or cultural transformation. It required a longer process of public reconciliation with history for Germans to acknowledge their shared responsibility for the legacy of Nazism.”
History will show there was resistance. But it was necessary to push against that resistance and create public reconciliation to move forward from that dark period of their history.
Short Term: Go to Bantayog ng Mga Bayani and bring friends and foreigners.
The fact of the matter is that we have a museum with regular exhibits that showcase the story of the martyrs and heroes of that period.
I’ve personally helped organized tours and conversations with survivors in an effort to bring more awareness. It’s something we all can do.
I need to reiterate the short wins will make us feel better now but it’s the longer battle that matters. This is a generational concern that jumps from education to legislation to public sentiment. We need to all do our part.
Also published on Medium.