“We must never forget that human motives are generally far more complicated than we are apt to suppose, and that we can very rarely accurately describe the motives of another.” – Fyodor Dostoyevsky
The following are what Marcos apologists consider as their “best arguments” to date, never mind that they are unscientific or unfounded.
Marcos apologists still use them because it helps them in their plan to highlight the disappointment and disgust by people disgruntled by the massive poverty and wealth inequality in the country.
But before we dive into them, let us first level off and take a bird’s eye view of the economic and political situation in the country after the 1986 EDSA People Power.
FACT #1 The Philippine economy was a disaster after Martial Law; it was proven without reasonable doubt that due to the massive plundering of the Marcos government, the country was plunged into an economic catastrophe.
Being able to survive it without everyone tearing each other apart was already short of a miracle.
This is an undisputed fact and something that bears to be considered primarily in the context of the arguments thrown by Marcos apologists.
FACT #2 The country’s social fabric was ripped apart; significant institutions need to be rehabilitated, from the three branches of government, the military, the police up to the constitution.
There were also several interest groups from different sides of the political spectrum who were vying for power.
From the extreme right to the far left, the government’s goal at that time was focused on how to maintain and strengthen democracy while making sure that the economy stays afloat and people formerly connected to the Marcoses kept in check.
FACT #3 Aside from trying to bring the Marcos family to justice and retrieving their loots, the government was also trying to make sure that forces supportive of the Marcoses will not prosper in stealing power from the government.
There were already reports that Marcos was aiming for an invasion of the Philippines by hiring foreign mercenaries, prompting the intrusion of the U.S. government in helping prosecute the Marcoses and freezing their assets.
FACT #4 The government never went ahead and purged itself of Marcos supporters, some were retained in their positions, went into hiding, and a number of them either lie-low or went out of the country.
Perhaps they were trying to prevent a bloodbath; who knows?
Nonetheless, this decision saved many lives from the side of the oppressor government of Marcos to the detriment of most of its victims.
Up to this day, only a handful of significant players under martial law was brought to justice.
Now that we’ve discussed the facts relating to the events after EDSA, let us now move forward to these alleged strong arguments by Marcos apologists; they are as follows:
1. ” “EDSA People Power was a failed revolution, and it paved the way for the return of the old oligarchy.”
Whenever Marcos apologists tell me this, I ask them: “Firstly, what do you mean by the old oligarchy? Second, what kind of revolution were you looking for?”
Because for one, EDSA People Power, by its definition, was not technically a revolution. The term “oligarchy” needs to be more precise to be understood how it is detrimental to our country and democracy.
But what bothers me is not the critique of EDSA People Power. Still, the diminishing of it by interest groups, placing the blame on a particular stratum of society (in this case oligarchs) on a general level without putting forward a reasonable argument out of which Viktor Frankl so passionately warned people about and named it as “collective guilt.”
There is no collective guilt, it does not exist, and I say this not only today, but I’ve said so from day one when I was liberated from my last concentration camp—and at that time it was definitely not a way to make oneself popular to dare publicly to oppose the idea of collective guilt. Guilt can in any case only be personal guilt—the guilt for something I myself have done—or may have failed to do! But I cannot be guilty of something that other people have done, even if it is my parents or grandparents.
And to try to persuade today’s Austrians between the ages of nought and fifty of a sort of “retroactive collective guilt,” I consider to be a crime and an insanity—or, to put it in a psychiatrist’s terms, it would be a crime, were it not a case of insanity. – Viktor Frankl
Historically this exhortation is further exemplified by the Dekulakization in the Soviet Union in the 20th century that led to the deaths of millions of Ukrainians.
The video below explains this better.
2.“Elite democracy and the opportunism of the Aquino’s through the EDSA People Power only replaced Marcos’ cronies and Martial Rule.”
An FB friend recently shared what I consider as very malicious comics that aim to twist the facts behind EDSA People Power.
The image can be seen below: I replied to my friend the following and also to the FB page of the original maker of the comics:
“This is a very, very bad reading of history, first of all, Ninoy was murdered in front of everybody, second of all the Filipino people were the ones who pushed for Cory to run for President, in fact she asked for a million signatures from the people if they really want her to run and the people gave twice the amount of signatures.
How can a victim of cold-blooded murder, after being detained without charges for seven years, placed in a solitary confinement with only his brief on and denied his rosary be considered an opportunist?
How can one who decided to go back to the Philippines, turn back a good life in Boston with his loved ones, knowing that he will be murdered or put back in jail be considered an opportunist?
How can a democratically chosen President who survived 12 coup-de-etat’s and yet not declaring Martial Law be considered an opportunist?
Lastly, who is really the elite? The only elite that time was Marcos and his Cronies, people wholeheartedly chose Cory Aquino to lead them and not the other way around.”
I have yet to read a reply from both.
However, the real point of contention was about how Cory Aquino, after wresting power, failed to implement some significant changes in her government, particularly in the agriculture sector, out of which most problems emerged along with the issues of Hacienda Luisita and Mendiola Massacre.
Marcos apologists are quick to use both issues as justification for the ineptness of Cory and EDSA, and they forcefully drag the narrative of Cory being just another political opportunist no different or somewhat inferior to the one she replaced.
While I don’t condone the failures of Cory Aquino, you might have to tell Marcos apologists to look at the bigger picture and ask more profound questions before reducing her shortcomings and inadequacies as to the fault of EDSA.
The shortcomings of Cory Aquino are separate from the event of EDSA People Power, and those are two distinct and highly different scenarios.
The former was about the inability to follow through with her promises of reform by a democratically chosen President. At the same time, the latter was about spontaneously removing from power a pathological dictator.
Cory Aquino’s personal decisions being the democratically elected head of the state does not mean that she speaks for the people of EDSA.
Cory Aquino’s faults as a President are her faults alone and one which the people of EDSA are within their rights to make her accountable for.
However, to use every wrong decision and every failure of Cory Aquino as a fault to diminish EDSA People Power is a highly malicious misreading of the essence of the momentous event of 1986.
Unfortunately, many people are trapped with this line of argument, as if Cory Aquino and EDSA People Power are indivisible.
Marcos apologists argue that if the opposition can equate Marcos as correlated to Martial Law, it also follows that Cory, with her shortcomings and EDSA, is the same.
This argument is flawed because Cory Aquino wasn’t even in EDSA; she was in Cebu, giving talks and meeting different groups.
While the death of Cory’s husband Ninoy was indirectly related to the events leading to EDSA, there was no causation that Cory spearheaded the movement.
Whereas Marcos was directly connected to the implementation and application of Martial Law along with the millions of dollars he plundered and thousands of lives murdered, tortured, and destroyed.
Case in point, there is no evidence that Cory ever gave the command to open fire at the Mendiola protesters as opposed to the years and years of Marcos’ martial rule and deliberate jailing of people he deems subversive.
Cory’s government was never perfect, but to use its imperfections as justification for the glory days of the Marcoses is just outright pathological and stupid.
“Elite Democracy” is direct evidence of EDSA’s overall failure.
It is equally pernicious and irresponsible to throw around the term “Elite Democracy” without adequately understanding its consequences.
Again, this term pre-supposes collective guilt that justifies victim-hood mentality while misunderstanding the dynamics of human nature and society in general. I am talking about, in this case, the scientifically proven concepts called the Pareto Principle and Price’s Law.
The videos below explain this better.
Nonetheless, granted that what the term “Elite Democracy” means is a democracy where only the rich and the few are in power and hogging it themselves for personal interests, is an oxymoron because the practice of democracy will always be about individual electoral participation in which case people are free to vote whoever they want, whether rich or poor. No matter how faulty the outcome of a democracy is, it’s still a democracy, and it is better than having no democracy at all.
It might also seem that using the term “Elite Democracy” means barking up the wrong tree because it disregards the “practice of democracy.” In this case, anyone in government, as long as they are deemed “elite,” is already considered guilty.
The question is, who determines guilt? And what are the parameters to measure elitism?
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, had it right in his book The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956:
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies. – Friedrich Nietzsche
If you look closely at both arguments, you will notice that they follow a pattern.
By putting forward these arguments, they are pre-supposing that life was better before EDSA, no matter how much the Marcoses stole or how many human rights violations they committed.
Ironically, they justify this further by magnifying the flaws of Cory along with the other Presidents who came after.
Second, by putting forward these arguments, Marcos apologists directly disregard the four facts I listed above as valid or even existed.
The third is that it conveniently absolves Marcos apologists of responsibility in working towards democracy by putting forward these arguments.
Curiously, what makes their arguments attractive to people and why people buy them is that it incites doubt in the minds of a citizenry ignorant of the facts listed above.
The arguments rest on resentment and an illusory nostalgic return to a glorious past that is virtually non-existent.
If you ask Marcos apologists that granted what they are saying is true, what is their alternative to democracy? What do they want?
And they will tell you to point-blank that they want Marcos and Martial Law back.
So, you see, their arguments aren’t that much of a dispute; their views are only as strong as the lack of necessary information on the side of their audience.
The real problem lies with people who are not Marcos Apologists but are fully convinced that the government that followed after EDSA People Power didn’t do any good for the welfare of the people. And this is what I believe paved the way for Rodrigo Duterte to be in power.