I have no impulses to authoritarianism, Marcos tells Aussies

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
I have no impulses to authoritarianism, Marcos tells Aussies
President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. on March 4, 2024.
(PPA pool photos by Noel Pabalate)

MELBOURNE – President Marcos claimed he has not been tempted to enforce an authoritarian system in the Philippines even as he justified his late father and namesake’s decision to declare martial law.

In an interview with ABC News aired on Monday, Marcos was asked how he, as the only son of a president overthrown by a people’s revolt, “resists the impulse to authoritarianism.”

Marcos replied, “I have no impulses to authoritarianism whatsoever.”

“We have a good system going. We have a Constitution that we have gone by for the last 36 years now. We are hoping to make some changes to it. But no, I have not felt any tug or temptation to make it a more authoritarian system,” he told ABC News’ Sarah Ferguson.

According to Marcos, stakeholder participation was permitted during his father’s presidency, but the peace and order situation made it necessary to implement martial law.

“Well, it was a different sort of authoritarian rule. I think when people think of authoritarian rule, it was non-participatory,” the President said.

“Whereas, I think the version that my father tried to promote and actually practiced was very much still with the participation of all stakeholders that were involved. It was just a peace and order situation that really dictated the necessity for the declaration of martial law,” he added.

Marcos said the declaration of martial law was something that could not be avoided in a “war.”

“Oh, yes. And with war, death and destruction are inevitable, but this is a war not declared by the government of the Philippines,” the President said when asked if he believed there was a human cost to his father’s rule.

“These wars were declared on the government of the Philippines. Both of them, one was to divide the country and the other one was to remove the present political system by armed struggle,” he added, referring to the threats posed by separatists and communist rebels.

Some groups regard the elder Marcos’ presidency as a “golden age,” citing the infrastructure built and the discipline observed by Filipinos during his term.

But most historians and human rights advocates believed otherwise, saying the Marcos years were tarnished with human rights abuses and corruption.

In 1972, the elder Marcos signed Proclamation No. 1081 placing the Philippines under martial law, citing “lawless elements” who have taken up arms against the government.

According to Amnesty International, the military rule  “unleashed a wave of crimes under international law and human rights violations, including tens of thousands of people arbitrarily arrested and detained, and thousands of others tortured, forcibly disappeared and killed.”

Imelda hospitalized

Meanwhile, former first lady Imelda Marcos has been hospitalized due to suspected pneumonia, her daughter Sen. Imee Marcos told reporters yesterday.

The elder Marcos was brought to a hospital in Taguig for close monitoring.

“She has been having fever and cough on and off. Given her age, we have to take maximum precautions,” the senator said.

Imelda underwent angioplasty procedure in May 2023.

She will turn 95 on July 2.

“She still wants to receive the centenarian benefits,” the senator said, referring to Republic Act 11982 which provides Filipino citizens aged 80, 85, 90 and 95 cash gifts of P10,000. Those who will reach 100 years old will be given P100,000.

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