Marcos Trilogy - The uncompromising vision of the former president

Monday February 05, 2018 ()

The uncompromising vision of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos for the country's economic development still carries particular resonance until today, more than 28 years after his death. His principles, philosophies and achievements are still at the core of our identity as a nation.

With his policies and projects withstanding the test of time, the results in facts and figures can no longer be altered and have become the empirical evidence for validation. History, then, will be the final judge of his legacy.

The Marcoses in Hawaii

Trilogy, in The Marcos Legacy, the latest book authored by Dr. Cecilio Arillo and published by Amazon and the Brown Madonna Press this week, occupies the 17th and final chapter of the book written by Marcos himself before he died in Hawaii in 1989.

These are his words, immortal and imperishable:

The first part studies the total transformation of the Philippine Society from 1972 to 1985 by the Marcos administration; the second part is the loss of momentum of transformation and the Philippine crisis under former President Corazon C. Aquino administration from 1986 to 1988; and the third is about the revival and the salvation of Philippine society.

Martial law—uniqueness

The severest critics of Philippine martial law—and their number is diminishing—must grant two things about it: its compelling necessity and its uniqueness.

To recapitulate: The compelling necessity arose out of the seven grave threats to the existence of the Republic. These were the communist rebellion, the rightist conspiracy, the secessionist movement in the South, the rampant corruption on all levels of society, the criminal and criminal-political syndicates (including the private armies), the deteriorating economy, and the increasing social injustice. I have already explained in detail the necessity of the decision.

Our martial law is unique in that it is based on the supremacy of the civilian authority over the military and on complete submission to the decision of the Supreme Court and, most important of all, the will of the people. It is unique in that it does not seek to maintain the “status quo” but has instead brought about radical reforms.

The 1973 Philippine Constitution

I have always adhered to the idea that all revolutions, no matter what kind—whether Jacobin or democratic, violent or peaceful, bloody or constitutional—depend for their success on the initial and eventual support of the people. Accordingly, I took steps immediately to formalize the acceptance of martial law in the New Society through the adoption of a new Constitution and a referendum, which would manifest in unquestioned manner the desire of the citizens.

Upon the approval of a new Constitution by the constitutional convention, I organized the “barangays,” or village councils or citizen assemblies, in the barrios. I directed the new Constitution to be submitted to the barangays, or citizen assemblies, in a formal plebiscite from January 10 to 15, 1973. The barangays voted almost unanimously to ratify the Constitution, and continue with martial law and the reforms of the New Society.

I wanted to emphasize that the revolution that I was leading was a constitutional revolution. It was constitutional because it did not depart from the strictures or limitations of the old and new Constitutions.

I know that some old-society politicians thought their “eloquent” and “brilliant” opposition had precipitated my action. This was understandable, for they could not have imagined that a danger greater than their oratory was pressing upon the Republic.

Civil order-enforcement of an obedience to law

The truth was that martial law had peculiar ramifications in the Muslim areas. At that moment a three-pronged rebellion and conspiracy was in progress that included the leftists, the rightist conspirators and the Muslim secessionist.

The dangers from the leftist rebellion and the rightist conspiracy were checked in Luzon. But in Mindanao as early as 1971 (or even before) other plans were in operation. As early as the summer of 1972, while Luzon was in near anarchy, Mindanao was beleaguered by the activities of some 16,000 secessionists.

Strengthened by foreign material and moral support, encouraged by the seeming impotence of government in Luzon, the secessionist rebels planned an all-out attack to overwhelm government military installation in the Muslim provinces of Sulu, Zamboanga del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte and Cotabato, and from there take over all of Mindanao and Sulu.

What bearing do these have on my decision for a quick ratification of the Constitution? The answer is that, the secessionist rebels had somehow convinced their financial supporters abroad (openly identified in the international press) that there was a civil war in the Philippines.

They argued that the condition was ideal for establishing a government separate from that of the Republic of the Philippines, allied, if necessary with a neighboring country. This step would be followed by a demand from the United Nations Security Council for the right of self-determination, following the formula that successfully set up Bangladesh as a state independent of Pakistan.

The plan was almost a political masterpiece. My options were few. The hostile reaction of the American press to the declaration of martial law destroyed for us any immediate expectation of United States aid at a time when we badly needed it. The assaults in Mindanao were calculated to divide our forces between Luzon and Mindanao.

The political plan, along with its clever, if crude, military strategy, might very well have worked had I vacillated about the risks of immediately ratifying the Constitution. The danger of a supposedly separate and independent shadow government set up in one or another municipality in Mindanao was apparent and would at once place in doubt our sovereignty in the area.

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