Corazon Aquino's politics of hatred and vengeance

Tuesday September 06, 2016 ()

Cory Aquino

Cory Aquino had used the term "reconciliation" so much, people began to believe in its possibility. But the reconciliation she had in mind did not quite fit its dictionary meaning. It was peculiar in that it would be pursued strictly on her terms.

The late nationalist historian Renato Constantino, whose house was raided by the government for his dissenting opinions, noted:

Corazon Aquino

"From the Aquino point of view, reconciliation with Mr. (Ferdinand E.) Marcos and his associates is not on the agenda. Their extinction as the residual Marcos forces is a necessary condition for future reconciliation possibly on a case-to-case basis ..."

To Marcos himself, Cory kept the door to reconciliation not only shut, but all boarded up. Her greatest cruelties were invoked in the name of national security.

She prevented him from coming home, dead or alive, by pressuring Washington to restrict his freedom of movement in America. President Marcos never did that to Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. while the Aquinos were in the United States.

Marcos was, thus, unable to personally pay his last respects when his sister Elizabeth died in December 1986, followed by his mother Doña Josefa Edralin in May 1988. He was prevented from defending his honor in Philippine courts. Even when Marcos himself died on September 28, 1989, Cory continued to block his homecoming for burial in his native land. A widow's wrath can, indeed, be wretched. It would not be until September 1993, during the Fidel V. Ramos presidency, when the mortal remains of President Marcos would be flown home to the Philippines.

The Cory ban for Marcos to travel was justified on political rather than legal grounds:

In late 1989 Marcos and his family requested the Supreme Court to review the government's decision banning Marcos, who was old and sick, from returning from exile in Hawaii to die in the Philippines. The petition invoked his right to travel according to Article 4, Sections 1 and 6 of the Philippine Constitution, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 12 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

The book A Country Imperiled-Tragic Lessons of a Distorted History, written by Cecilio T. Arillo and published by Amazon, said:

"A majority of the Supreme Court rejected this petition on the basis of the political hazards inherent in the return of the Marcoses. Two important arguments raised by the dissenting minority concerned the conviction that the legal basis for the denial was too flimsy, and the opinion that the government had not convincingly demonstrated was that the return of Marcos would seriously destabilize the country.

"Nevertheless, the decision of the Aquino administration was not based on any law that specified the condition under which national security and public safety could be validly invoked in impairing the right to travel ..."

Considerations of the survival of the post-Edsa political order, therefore, prevailed over Marcos' individual freedom of travel and abode.

The Supreme Court's 1989 ruling in this case, Marcos v. Manglapus (117 SCRA 668), underscored one aspect of the Cory regime: The incompatibility between human rights and the regime's survival.

117 SCRA 668 involves a petition of mandamus and prohibition asking the court to order the respondents Secretary of Foreign Affairs, etc. To issue a travel documents to former President Marcos and the immediate members of his family and to enjoin the implementation of the President's decision to bar their return to the Philippines. Petitioners assert that the right of the Marcoses to return in the Philippines is guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, specifically Sections 1 and 6. They contended that President Aquino is without power to impair the liberty of abode of the Marcoses because only a court may do so within the limits prescribed by law. Nor the President impair their right to travel because no law has authorized her to do so.

The decision to uphold the "executive ban" on travel split the Supreme Court down the middle, 8-7.

Supreme Court Justice Vicente V. Mendoza commented on the Supreme Court's ruling in Marcos v. Manglapus:

"On the whole, the Court was agreed that on the grounds of national security or public safety, the return of even a citizen can be prevented by the state. The justices differed on the question whether such grounds were present in this case. The majority, employing deferential review, found sufficient and factual basis for the president's decision to bar the petitioners' return. On the other hand, the dissenters, insisting on strict scrutiny, found no 'hard evidence' supporting the president's determination. Ultimately, the difference between the majority and the minority of the Justices concerned the appropriate standard of review."

The majority justified its less demanding standard ... adopted from the ruling in Lansang v. Garcia (42 SCRA 448, 480 [1971]) ... The fact is that the Court performed a review on two levels in Lansang v. Garcia: On the level of policy, using deferential standard, and on the level of actual application, using strict scrutiny.

Meanwhile, what was involved in Marcos v. Manglapus was not the review of a policy, but of executive action against particular individuals. Justice Mendoza questioned, in effect, the applicability of the ruling in the Lansang case to the Marcoses.


  1. Politics of hatred and vengeance by Cecil T. Arillo, September 3, 2016 (

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