By Jose Ma. Montelibano
It is simply time, and timely. The Marcos issue is not over, and legal circumstances cannot just be buried, especially if there remain opportunities for country to recover illegally obtained wealth. Legal cases, however, can be pursued more dispassionately, less acrimoniously. The government has recovered some, lost some, and after twenty-five years, no one seems ready to kill one another over what is still pending in the courts. I feel total disappointment, believing that government bungled so many chances to recover more from Marcos’s hidden wealth. At the same time, I believe democracy and its most crucial processes, like the justice system, must be given more of a chance to grow and work.
Ninoy Aquino, the assassinated martyr, is now a national hero. Ferdinand Marcos, then president and dictator at the time of the assassination, cannot escape responsibility and accountability for the murder of a political opponent in the most secured area of the Manila International Airport. And Marcos did pay. Maybe not enough, but he did pay. Whatever pride he had or hoped to keep as a legacy is forever tainted. That Ilocanos may choose regional sentiments over the principle of accountability does not change the landscape of right and wrong, of innocence and guilt – not in the eyes of all other Filipinos and the eyes of the whole world.
The non-recovery of illegally-amassed wealth is not an indicator of innocence, just a manifestation that guilt beyond a reasonable doubt by the measure of human law and language could not be proved. The return to political power of the Marcoses, in their hometowns and provinces and the country for Bongbong, is not a statement of innocence. Rather, it had always been factional loyalties, until Bongbong’s election to the Senate when a younger generation is fast taking over as the majority voters of the country.
But Filipinos did tire of political conflict, even if it involved principle and justice as its foundation. A point has been reached when what happened forty years ago when martial law was declared, and twenty-eight years ago when Ninoy was assassinated, and twenty-five years ago when People Power removed the Marcoses from Malacanang so that they could install Cory, does not provoke as much anger or a cry for vengeance.
I wonder why P-Noy assigned to Vice-President Jejomar Binay the task of studying, and recommending solutions to, the unresolved issue of the Marcos burial. That assignment always put a smile in my face, and speculations in everybody else’s mind. I would like to think that P-Noy understood and appreciated that VP Binay had firsthand experience with the anti-Marcos era and also had a faithful relationship with the Aquino family. P-Noy was there, too, all this time but more as a son than a Filipino politician absorbing the dynamics of power and governance.
But since the assignment given by P-Noy to VP Binay can also be seen as encouraged by a retinue of anti-Binay personalities surrounding P-Noy, then it may be a trap with enemies ready to throw the vice-president to the dogs for the smallest mistake. Many anticipate that Mar Roxas and his satellites in Malacanang, all of whom have yet to articulate their own thoughts, can go no further than say “yes, bury him at Libingan,” or “no, don’t bury him at Libingan.” I suppose they are eagerly waiting for VP Binay to do just precisely that.
If P-Noy is a man of destiny, then he should realize that Jojo Binay is no less a partner of that destiny. If Noynoy’s ascendancy was catapulted by his mother’s timely death, Jojo Binay had his own spectacular run for the vice-presidency, no less as against the odds as Noynoy being the candidate at that time. If there are those like me who view Noynoy’s candidacy and election as undeniably destined, then they would be well-advised to understand what a twin destiny is like. The fate of two men in overlapping destinies is deeper than surface relationships because greater powers than them pre-arranged their unlikely victories and shared governance.
Vice-President Jejomar Binay does not have an answer that will satisfy all Filipinos, especially not the wolves in sheep’s clothing who only want him to make a bum recommendation. However, the experience of one who fought the Marcoses, who served Cory and family with unflinching loyalty, who stood his ground against Gloria when many around P-Noy today played footsies and remain accountable as part of her official family, will see VP Binay through. And Jojo Binay will see P-Noy through, as always the defender and protector.
The airwaves, or cyberspace, have been busy lately, as though they smell that P-Noy will have to make an official stand on the Marcos burial. I come across so many email addressed to either P-Noy or VP Binay on the same issue, with great passion and emotion at that. Whatever the surveys say, and I believe them, there is something surveys cannot measure very well – and that is passion. A committed minority will win over a majority who answer survey questions with their minds, not their hearts.
Jojo Binay the freedom fighter, Mayor Jojo Binay the local government executive who has brought Makati City to its premier position in the country, and Vice-President Jejomar Binay who will take a bullet for P-Noy, will find a way, the right way.
We, too, the Filipino, must find a way to look at the Marcos legal issue from the point of morality and justice, then hold our ground because of conviction. But we, too, the Filipino, must find a way to look at the Marcos burial from the point of culture, family and even kindness. The wrong of Marcos and the burial of Marcos are very related concerns, but they are not the same. In that perspective may come the elusive answer.
But by all means, let Marcos be buried.
“When our moment of greatness comes carrying the invitation to greatness, let us pray for courage to embrace it. Else, i may never come again.”