EDITORIAL - Rewriting history
() - April 10, 2011 - 12:00am

Shortly before the nation marked a day dedicated to the heroes of World War II, Ferdinand Marcos was ensconced in the Hall of Heroes at Camp Aguinaldo, headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. AFP officials explained that Marcos was included in the exhibit because he was among the recipients of the Medal of Valor, even if there are unresolved questions about the authenticity of his war exploits.

This is another step in continuing efforts to rewrite history and portray an oppressive despot in a heroic light, one who deserves no less than a hero’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Already a significant number of members of the House of Representatives, where the dictator’s widow Imelda once again occupies a seat, have voted to grant the long-standing wish of the Marcos family. This has given rise to the joke that the burial is fine – as long as the cemetery retains only its generic name and the “bayani” or hero is struck out.

But giving a hero’s burial to a dictator is no laughing matter. Next month the second batch of human rights victims of martial law will receive their largely symbolic compensation from the Marcos estate. Their stories of suffering at the hands of an oppressive regime should be told and retold, before the abuses of the Marcos years disappear in a collective amnesia for which Filipinos are gaining notoriety.

These human rights victims were arrested and detained without formal charges, on the basis of ASSOs or arrest, search and seizure orders whose main signatories have been richly rewarded with high public office after the 1986 revolt. The detainees were subjected to sleep deprivation, electrocution, the water cure, repeated beatings, burning with cigarettes and rape. Many disappeared, never to be heard from again.

How can a nation forget the sins of the conjugal dictatorship? How can the man responsible for such systematic atrocities be considered a hero? What about the corruption on a scale so mind-boggling it gave rise to new words such as kleptocracy? Surely Filipinos have heard the admonition from George Santayana repeated often enough: those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES BAYANI CAMP AGUINALDO FERDINAND MARCOS GEORGE SANTAYANA HALL OF HEROES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES IMELDA MEDAL OF VALOR SURELY FILIPINOS WORLD WAR
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