The 1986 People Power Uprising marked the end of the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., a regime that was characterized by massive corruption, widespread human rights violations, and unprecedented economic plunder.
According to the Human Rights Violations Victims’ Memorial Commission, at least 11,103 individuals had fallen victim to rights violations under the dictatorship. Other estimates such as those of Amnesty International put the number of victims killed, tortured and imprisoned by the Marcos regime at 107,200.
The Marcos Sr. martial law regime was also marked with the worst economic recessions in Philippine history, with the gross domestic product posting negative 7.32% growth rates in 1984 and negative 7.037% in 1985. Poverty incidence worsened from 40% in 1965 to 60% by the time the dictatorship ended.
But the Marcosian legacy now casts an ever darker shadow on the Philippines as the late dictator’s son and namesake, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., has become the country’s president. Despite his attempts to rehabilitate his family’s image, Bongbong Marcos’ inutility as president, his onerous economic policies, his waste and misuse of public funds, his puppetry to US and Chinese interests, and his perpetuation of his father’s fascist policies and that of Duterte’s cause the Filipino people to remember the dark days of dictatorship and urge them to continue waging resistance.
Bongbong Marcos’ political career has been marked with incompetence. He has served as congressman, Ilocos Norte governor, and senator, but did not make any significant impact in any of these positions. It comes as no surprise that he is doing very badly as the country’s self-appointed agriculture secretary, unable to curb the rising prices of onions, sugar and other basic commodities. Reports are rife that his relations are actually behind the rampant smuggling of agricultural products which has destroyed the livelihoods of local farmers and further condemns the country to being a dumping ground for agricultural imports.
With Marcos Jr. now in Malacañang, we are witnessing a continuation of his family’s corrupt and fascist legacy. His presidency is an insult to the sacrifices of those who fought for freedom and democracy before, during and after EDSA.
In further trivialization of the EDSA People Power Uprising, Marcos Jr. has moved the commemoration of the uprising’s 37th anniversary from February 25 to February 24, whittling down its significance to Filipinos as a mere chance for them to enjoy a long weekend. The move is also a sly attempt to derail ongoing plans for a mobilization on the 25th and sow confusion among the people.
The people, however, remain infused with the spirit of the EDSA uprising and will not be deterred.
They remember that the Marcoses plundered the country’s economy, leaving it in ruins. The Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth is estimated to be worth up to US$10 billion. Despite the Filipino people’s grinding poverty, the Marcoses spent this money on extravagant lifestyles, lavish parties, and opulent properties, both in the Philippines and abroad.
As president, Bongbong Marcos and his family have been displaying the same profligacy and crass insensitivity to the people’s suffering. Further manifesting their sickening sense of entitlement, they refuse to pay their estate tax obligation of PhP203 billion. Marcos Jr. is now notorious for being a jetsetting president, with his numerous foreign trips that have gained little for the Filipino people but where he and his family hobnobbed with the rich and famous.
Bongbong Marcos presides over a country that still faces the same basic economic problems as it did in 1986. The inflation rate has risen from 7.7% in October to 8.7% in January 2023 and continues to rise. Foreign debt rose from $98.488 billion in 2020 to $106.428 billion at the end of 2022. Official statistics say that unemployment has decreased, but as of September 2022, up to 40% of the so-called employed were only actually marginally employed.
As expected, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., has shown himself to be as inutile as ever in solving the country’s problems. He has no viable economic program to speak of. He has wasted public funds with his foreign travels and plans to waste even more monies on programs like the Maharlika fund, which will enhance opportunities for high-level corruption and plunder.
Moreover, he is continuing his father’s legacy of puppetry to foreign interests. His obsequious attitude to China regarding the territorial disputes in the West Philippine Sea and his reaffirmation of unequal treaties with the US show that he is not interested in standing up for the Filipino people’s sovereign rights and interests.
The Marcos Sr. regime was known for its authoritarian and repressive policies. Despite his rhetoric to the contrary, Bongbong Marcos has been upholding the same tradition, as evidenced by his alliance with the Dutertes and his perpetuation of the same fascistic counter-insurgency programs of his predecessors that have spawned innumerable violations of civil and political rights.
To date, there have been 17 victims of extrajudicial killings in the first six months of Marcos Jr.’s regime, and four persons involuntarily disappeared. There were more than 9,000 victims of forced evacuation, more than 3,000 victims of indiscriminate firing by State forces and more than 350,000 victims of threats, harassment and intimidation. As of November 2022, there were a total of 825 political prisoners held in various detention facilities nationwide, 26 of them arrested under the Marcos Jr. regime.
In light of these facts, we must continue to struggle for genuine justice, national freedom, and democracy.
The 1986 People Power Uprising serves as a reminder of the power of collective action and the importance of holding those in power accountable for their actions.
The people will not stand for Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s gross incompetence, his blatant misuse of the public coffers and his kowtowing to US and Chinese imperialist interests. He is a massive burden on the Filipino people’s shoulders.
The people have not forgotten the atrocities committed during the martial law period. We are neither deaf nor blind to the continuing exploitation, corruption and oppression that plague us. We will not relent in our struggle for democracy, human rights and social justice.