Tell me who your friends are…
OFF TANGENT - Aven Piramide (The Freeman) - January 23, 2019 - 12:00am

Immediately after President Duterte announced being favorable to President Marcos’ remains laid in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, he drew a harsh line between a huge, though visibly-diminished, political block called Marcos loyalists and those who suffered, in innumerable ways, from the Martial Law years. In the following days, people from both for and against burying the remains of Da Apo resorted to mass actions. The voice of the opposition accused the president of being friendly to the Marcoses.


The Supreme Court spoke on the issue and even in such divided wisdom of the highest tribunal, the nation bowed. Some of us mumbled disturbing remarks, but yes, we, too, bowed. The court’s decision favoring the entombment of Marcos in the place reserved for heroes, ironically speaking, put to rest a running argument on the propriety of such heroic accommodation. It was understandable though that the glaring absence of unanimity of thought among the learned justices added weight to the disquieting perception that the friendliness of the president to the Marcoses was a ponderous factor in the court’s ruling. Needless to say, the decision somehow also succeeded to stoke the angsts of the Martial Law victims.

 While the margin of victory of President Duterte was carved in unprecedented numbers, the triumph of Leni Robredo over Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was rather close. After Robredo was declared vice president, protest and counter protest were filed. On this issue, the president sent a clear signal. President Duterte is a friend of Marcos Jr. In one occasion, he declared that Robredo, a lawyer like him, was incompetent to become president of the republic such that if he were to step down from Malacanang, he would want Marcos Jr. to succeed. The president knew, as he should, that his friendly preference for Marcos Jr. as his successor would desecrate the constitution but I could only surmise that he did that precisely as a feigned signal to the Presidential Electoral Tribunal.

  Few days ago, I saw a paid political advertisement on prime time television. There were several spots and I imagined the staggering cost the propaganda incurred. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, the president’s daughter, endorsed, in differently-crafted statement, the candidacy of candidate for senator Imee Marcos, the daughter of the late Marcos. The endearing smiles of the endorser and the endorsee could probably be traced to decades-old friendship. It could also be a result of focused practice. Upon viewing that propaganda, my memory, despite being frailed by seniority, traveled to a distant past. Imelda Marcos, widow of President Ferdinand, and now congresswoman, went to several areas in the country to raise the hands of the KBL candidates whenever there were elections. Her credentials included her being governor of Metro Manila. The endorsements done by the then first lady presumably carried distinct advantage of being likewise endorsed by the sitting president. Undoubtedly that was also the message of Mayor Sara -- Duterte, the president, endorsed a Marcos for senator.

   As the saying goes, tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are.

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