Political closure not only on the Marcos narrative, but also on the Aquino narrative

Saturday August 25, 2018 ()

Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos asks those who continue to vilify and malign her family, particularly the memory of her father President Ferdinand Marcos, to move on.

But critics of her family and of the late President will not allow us to move on.

Senator Bam Aquino, one who despite being a virtual political nobody without any record in public office won a seat in the Senate on the strength of a surname which he further capitalized on by mimicking the appearance of his dead uncle, demands closure.

For many, that closure would be in the form of Imee and her brother Bongbong Marcos making a public apology. It is an apology that will never be accepted anyway, but they demand it for the pleasure that will be derived from the optics of further shaming the Marcoses. It is not enough that the narrative which dominated the post-Edsa storytelling was one that already practically exposed all the nooks and crannies of the dirt and mud that can possibly be found in the public and private lives of Ferdinand, Imelda, their children and relatives, and their so-called cronies. The closure which many demand further requires that the Marcos children openly admit to what is already conclusively held by those who demand the apology.

Marcos and Aquino
(President Ferdinand Marcos (left), and Senator Benigno Aquino Jr.)

However, if indeed we have to force descendants to pay for the sins of their predecessors, then our political landscape will be littered with shame by those who now populate Congress, and national and local politics. I heard this anecdote where Rep. Imelda Marcos allegedly have quipped during the roll call of the House in which she was a member that the roster sounded all so familiar, as if nothing has changed from the time she and her husband were in Malacañang.

Indeed, our political landscape is full of surnames that have histories of culpability not only for their actions during the martial law period, but some even long before it, with grandchildren of traitors who sold out our revolution, of thieves who stole the funds of the revolutionary government and of those who collaborated with the Japanese imperial army, now sitting in the halls of Congress, or occupying positions of power in national and local politics. Some even ended up becoming presidents.

Some will accuse those who demand full accounting of past culpabilities from everyone, and not just the Marcoses, as a form of historical revisionism. But revising history becomes an imperative when what we have is a narrative that is being told only from the lens of those who won in EDSA in 1986. History is weaponized by the elites who benefit from its hijacking. Dominant narratives are told not to complete the story, but to weave convenient tales that would be safe for these elite interests. The complete story is replaced by focusing on the evils of one particular family, and one particular period if only to justify a convenient landscape of simulated truths. Cory Aquino did not just sequester the assets of Marcos and his cronies. She, through the actions of her apologists and dedicated story-tellers, also sequestered history, and then inoculated it by labeling as historical revisionism any attempt to recover from it the fair, complete and balanced narratives.

One of the biggest stories that remain to be told is who really ordered the assassination of Ninoy Aquino. The convenient narrative is that it was ordered by Marcos himself, or that it was Imelda Marcos, or even Gen. Fabian Ver. But there are many loose ends to this version of the story. For one, Marcos, who was already ill at the time, was not stupid enough to order the assassination knowing fully well that it would be blamed on him.

Cory Aquino had revolutionary powers during the first years of her presidency. She was in the best position to order a reinvestigation to once and for all determine the real story behind her husband’s assassination. She came into power as a grieving widow demanding justice for her slain husband, but she did not even lift a finger to direct the relevant organs of the state to inquire into his death.

Indeed, the most convenient narrative is to keep on believing that the Marcoses were behind the assassination of Ninoy Aquino. This is the only narrative that could nicely fit into the framing of his image as a hero. Any other narrative would necessarily dilute the heroic nature of his death.

Alternative stories abound, with conspiracy theorists offering a plethora of narratives, from the plausible to the incredible. I have heard one story that the assassination plot was allegedly designed only to wound, and not to kill, perhaps to increase the value of the political optics of an attempt on the life of a returning opposition leader. There is another story line being woven by people who believe that it was actually a relative who ordered the assassination. If any of these stories are true, then Ninoy’s heroism will be negated because the cause of his death would no longer be in the hands of an alleged dictator, but as an accidental death from an allegedly staged assassination attempt, or that he died as a victim of political fratricide to advance clan interests.

All of these stories will continue to fester, and will be entertained by those who are not convinced of the official narrative. What raises the suspicion is the refusal of Cory Aquino, and later of her son Noynoy Aquino, to reopen the investigation into the assassination of Ninoy.

On the balance, the Marcos side of our political history has already been over-exposed to a point that this has even become income-generating endeavors for many resourceful journalists and scholars. It is the Aquino side that contains so many hanging narratives comprising of secrets, untold stories and unresolved allegations. In addition to queries about the real story behind the assassination of Ninoy Aquino, many are also asking what the real story is behind the Plaza Miranda bombing, and if there is truth to the allegation that Ninoy had something to do with it.

Bam Aquino talks about closure.

The stories on the Ninoy Aquino assassination and the Plaza Miranda bombing are just two of the many stories in our political past that remain open and that need closure.

Bam Aquino must demand closure not only on the Marcos narrative, but also on the Aquino narrative. We need that closure, lest a cloud of doubt remains hanging, particularly over the heroism of his uncle.

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