Historical Revisionism on Presidents Marcos and Duterte

Diliman Way


“Those who cannot remember the past are
doomed to repeat it.”- George Santayana
“He could have made it right with the book. But
he hasn’t. He is a revisionist of history. He lied.”
-Monica Lewinsky

“History is not a burden on the memory but an
illumination of the soul.” – Lord Acton

History is a record of the past – what happened, who made it happen and how did it happen. It is a narration of facts, not fiction. History is the truth, revisionism is fiction. In plain and simple language, history is what is true and revisionism is false. It is a plain distinction between the truth and the lie.

Revisionist: Most of history is revisionist. Why? It is written by victors – and winners color their stories, usually by their assigned storytellers, with a touch of fictional narration to make them appear glorious, even if they are not. Many victors paint their sins and errors as gospel truths – just like the Devil quoting the Scriptures.

But historians, the genuine writers, who are objective witnesses to history, are the reliable ones to be credited with writing history. In the many books I have read which document historical events with a high degree of accuracy, the best of the lot are – John Reed’s Ten Days That Shook the World and William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
For history to be reliable, it should tell the truth, it should not be a conveyor of the lie or lies.

In the local scene: What passes for history in this country is written by persons who are not witnesses to events as they happened. They are not historians. They are interpreters of history. So their narrative of history depends on two things – their objectivity and their bias. Even if they are academicians, they suffer from bias and lack of objectivity.

The test of the truth of a historical narration is to determine the existence of these two elements – whether the narrator is biased and objective. It is not an either or situation as one can be biased but for professional reasons, one can be objective.

Marcos and Duterte: A few days ago, I had a chance of reading a discussion comparing Marcos and Duterte in a leading Manila daily. A dean of a law college, who is notorious for defending even the fart of Duterte as beneficial to the country, complained that the judgment on Marcos should be comprehensive and not limited to the issues of human rights violations, graft and corruption, violating the Constitution and dictatorship.

Since the two men are compared on those issues, he has no basis for complaining. It is only on these issues – human rights, Constitution, graft and corruption and dictatorship – where there is sufficient basis for comparison. On other issues and levels, to compare Marcos to Duterte is to insult the memory of Ferdinand and to elevate Rodrigo to a level he does not deserve as it is beyond his reach.

Dictatorship: On the issue of dictatorship, both men are dictators with a difference – Marcos was a constitutional dictator, thus de jure, meaning consistent with the law of his own creation while Duterte is a de facto dictator as his dictatorship is not allowed by the Constitution, in almost every step of the way in the exercise of dictatorial powers.

Graft and Corruption: On graft and corruption of their respective administration, there is both a quantitative and qualitative difference. To borrow the very graphic description of the difference between the Marcos and Cory Aquino administration, by the late Abul Khayr Alonto, who occupied various positions in government including the Chairmanship of the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDa) under the Duterte administration, “Under the Marcos administration, graft and corruption was under the table. 

In the Cory Aquino administration, graft and corruption is including the table.” Using the Alonto standards, I’m afraid that all you need to do to describe the state of graft and corruption in the Duterte is to substitute the name Rodrigo Duterte for Cory Aquino. It is that simple and indisputable.

Human rights: On human rights violation, there is also qualitative and quantitative difference. Human rights violations during the time of Marcos was basically directed at the Communist parties, their fellow travelers and human rights activists In the case of Duterte, it is primarily directed at illegal drug users and those involved in the illegal drug trade, those opponents who are treated as its enemies, and a sprinkling of activists here and there..

Both Marcos and Duterte are violators of the Constitution, since in the Constitution of both contain provisions on due process and equal protection of the law – honored by their violation but not by their performance.

Terrorism: As claimed by both Presidents, their respective governments is anti-terrorists but by definition under their laws, the Marcos and Duterte governments are terrorists. Their military and police as well as related institutions are the glaring practitioners of terrorism. In the case of Marcos, there is a semblance of observing judicial processes. Marcos declared martial law and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Duterte did not declare martial for the whole country but the murders committed by the Duterte death forces are blatant and scandalous.

Marcos used the Anti-Subversion Law as his effective legal instrument in terrorizing the whole country. Duterte has his Anti-Terrorism Act to legalize completely the institution of terrorism of his administration.

Political Opposition: In the case of Marcos, the political Opposition was not terrorized into submission. It mounted battles in all directions – in media, in the parliament of the streets, in elections, in provinces, cities and towns controlled by elected Opposition officials, especially in the Parliament – both in the interim and the regular. 

In the Duterte administration, the political Opposition is disorganized without an effective and charismatic national leader. Virtually operating individually, they are easy picking for Duterte – De Lima is in jail, Trillanes is facing criminal charges, Mar Roxas and Pnoy Aquino are invisible as though they do not exist. There is no rallying point.

Why is the situation like this? They have all been terrorized by Duterte and for lack of a rallying leader the overwhelming majority of the people have been sufficiently terrorized, too – joining the ranks of the embarrassing conspiracy of silence.

Death toll: As recorded by organizations of the victims, Marcos government killed more than three thousand citizens, most of them, as claimed by the Marcos allies, killed in encounters. Of course that is a blatant lie. Many of them were killed in torture chambers of the military and the police and in raids conducted by both organizations.
That is the death toll for a period of ten years – from 1971 to 1981.

In the case of the government, it has killed more than twenty to almost thirty thousand illegal drug users and pushers with a few major figures involved in the illegal drug war. The standard defense of the killers is that the victims fought the killers and the killers did them in for reason of self-defense. Of course, this claim is a lot of nonsense for in most of the cases witnesses testified that the killers were all telling lies – their acts are plain simple murders. If the late great Filipino comedian, Dolphy, were alive today he would tell the killers straight in their faces in his famous line, “Dassa lot of nonsense!” And that for a period of four years.

Revisionism: Both administrations and their defenders claim there are no extra-judicial killings. That claim is a blatant lie. Why? The extra-judicial killings are well documented. They are facts beyond denial. Denying facts is a lie. Lying is revisionism – trying to lie through their teeth in rewriting history.

Both administrations are rewriting history before us who know the facts. That is insulting and shameless revisionism. That is lying before us and the world.

They also say there is no graft and corruption in their administrations. That is another lie. The graft and corruption are well documented and they are happening before our eyes. That is another case of pathological revisionism.

They maintain there are no extrajudicial; killings in their administrations. 

Both administrations are guilty advocates and practitioners of that criminal theory and practice. That is another case of shameless and arrogant revisionism because they are documented by institutions here and abroad.

Marcos and Duterte historians claim there are no human rights violations in their watch. Documents here and abroad are overwhelming. They are beyond denial. So they are telling lies. A pack of lies is a bundle of revisionism.

Their claim to exterminate terrorism is enshrined in their laws, words and actions. They are just words, words, and a lot of word. They are the number one terrorist in the country. Both administrations have been terrorizing this country in their respective watch..

In practice, their military and police are the instruments to terrorize the country, especially their perceived critics and enemies – Marcos with martial law and the Anti-Subversion Law; Duterte with Anti-Terrorism Act, war against illegal drugs and the China corona virus of President Xi Jinping of Communist China.

So they are the terrorists by their own definitions. This too is undeniable. This too is revisionism at its baldest.

Reckoning: Revisionists always suffer in the end. Truth always prevails over lies. That is the ineluctable lesson of history. The revision may take hold for a time but in the ultimate analysis it is swept away by the tides of history.

I am always enthused by Duterte’s repeated warnings that there is always a time for reckoning. He restated a rule that is applicable to all, including him. That is simply explained by man’s mortality. Presidents are mortals like all of us and they can never be gods whether in small or capital letters, not even if they live several lifetimes. And so it with us!

his is one lesson of history that President Duterte should learn. Prevarication of the truth will not help them. It is also the same rule that holds for the Marcos loyalists who, like the Dutertistas, are the unashamed revisionists and prevaricators of history. (HAA)

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