I DIDN’T ALWAYS AGREE with my Father, though he was brilliant. I was steeped in his libertarian thought and I shared his vista, yet we had our subtle differences.
He trained all six of us children to think for ourselves and to express our opinions, even if it clashed with his. Table talk in our family tended to debate, and usually intimidated friends who thought we were in heated conflict. They were invariably relieved to see us end it with united calls for dessert.
I had the privilege of working with my Dad in the Supreme Court as his proofreader and sounding board. He relied on me to check his ponencias for typos, the odd grammatical oversight and the even rarer logical inconsistency. There were times when I saw none of the above but merely believed that he needed a new perspective on this or that case. On those occasions, I would venture my opinion, and he would always listen.
One of those cases involved a rapist who got a life sentence and came to my Father on automatic review. The assigned legal clerk believed the defendant was falsely accused and recommended his acquittal; my Dad was inclined to agree with her. After reading the facts with a layman’s eye, I was convinced otherwise, and presented my views to him. I will forever be grateful that he took me seriously and gave the case a deeper look. In the end, he affirmed the life conviction and ensured justice and a modicum of satisfaction for the maiden whose life was eternally marred by that man.
My Father taught us that liberty reigns where opposing voices are encouraged, and that it is deposed when those voices are denied. He was not disappointed in us when we disagreed with him, but when we had nothing to say. In fact, he expected us to call his attention to unsound decisions or statements he may have made. He would recriminate against us if we balked from telling him the hard truth. He relished intellectual independence and moral integrity in his children. It was his legacy.
Thus I was shocked when Miriam Defensor-Santiago announced that she was choosing Bongbong Marcos for her running mate. It was her defense of him, however, that appalled me.
Asked about the human rights violations committed during the Marcos regime, Santiago said it was not as if the late dictator gathered all his family members and decided to implement martial law.
“They did not agree as a family to sit down and say, ‘let’s set up curfew, let’s regulate firearms,” she said, noting that the martial law was not a result of familial decision but of a “policy decision of the executive branch and Marcos’ advisers.”
She would have us believe that it is necessary for Imelda and her children to have co-signed every oppressive presidential decree for them to be accountable for the pain of that era. She would have us think that Imelda and her children were unwitting and innocent parties to the atrocities of the dictatorship. She would have us accept this logic, because the son is not the father and should not be punished for his sins.
This is true. Bongbong is not his father, as I am not my Dad. We are both of us leagues apart from our sires, but I am honest enough to know my place.
However, I disagree with Senator Santiago’s reasoning. She, more than non-lawyers like me, should understand the concept of complicity:
By virtue of his silence in the face of his father’s errors, his indubitable knowledge of his father’s excesses, and his willing enjoyment thereof, I consider Bongbong Marcos (and his mother and sisters) fully complicit in the fiendishness of the martial law regime and absolutely accountable for its crimes.
He was behind his parents throughout that miserable era, and was even touted as the logical successor to the strongman. He was obviously being groomed for the part.
Bongbong Marcos completely identified with his senior and never raised his voice against injustice, nor to correct his father’s abuses. To this day, he refuses to apologize for martial law and his family’s plunder of the country.
He likes to compare his father’s Philippines to Lee Kuan Yew’s Singapore, and many Filipinos now believe him. Imagine, they believe him! But Lee himself had this to say about our national penchant for denial:
It is a soft, forgiving culture. Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over 20 years, still be considered for a national burial. Insignificant amounts of the loot have been recovered, yet his wife and children were allowed to return and engage in politics.
I have not seen any stage 4 lung cancer patient as mobile and loquacious as madam senator Santiago. I have often wondered about the real state of her health. I hope she is not as sick as she states. But if it is true that she has been seriously ill and only won a reprieve, then we must soberly consider what it means to support her ticket.
Mga kababayan: kung iboto ninyo si Miriam, at talaga nga’ng malubha ang kanyang sakit, ang tunay na inihahalal nyo sa pagkapangulo ay si Bongbong.
Let us not discard the freedoms we have wrested by being loath to admit or too indolent to remember the vise-like grip of oppression.
Let these dire prognostications stoke our memories and move us to say, “No. Absolutely not. Never, ever again.”
Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.
– James 4:17