Burying the Aquino myth
One of the most stunning myths ever foisted on Filipinos by a single family is that of Benigno S. Aquino Jr., his widow, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, and their son, former President Benigno Simeon Cojuangco Aquino III.
The myth consists of three parts. First, the Aquino name represents competence and good governance. Second, the Aquino name represents nationalism, patriotism, love of country, and the rescue of democracy. Third, the Aquino name represents concern for the poor and inclusive growth.
There are two letters to describe the three—BS. Bullsh*t.
And why is the Cojuangco-Aquino family so worked up about Ferdinand Edralin Marcos’ remains being laid to rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the state-run cemetery for former presidents, heroes, and the dead of the armed forces?
Because when the nation buries Marcos at the Libingan, it will also bury with him the so-called Aquino legend, as described above. The former president’s interment is in effect a rewriting of history, a righting of a grievous wrong, and a rendering of credit where credit is due. The burial will be a restoration for the Marcoses and a diminution for and a shaming of the Aquino family.
Competence and good governance. Ninoy Aquino was senator of the republic of nearly four years. In those four years, little is known about his output in terms of bills that became law. Little. He was famous for being a heckler, to Ferdinand Marcos and the First Lady Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
Ninoy’s widow, Cory Aquino, assumed power in February 1986 without the benefit of a rightful election. She served for six years and four months. During her presidency, the country was plunged into the most severe energy crisis in its history. Blackouts of up to 18 hours were a daily occurrence. Hence, Cory acquired the monicker “The Queen of Darkness.” The electricity shortage brought forth economic slowdown and deterred investments, thus fueling inflation, promoting joblessness and overall despondency and poverty. Today, we still suffer from the after effects of that crisis, by paying among the highest-priced electricity in the world.
Under Cory, the communist New People’s Army grew to unprecedented strength, up to 35,000 armed regulars, and reaching a level of strategic confrontation with the government. She revived the Muslim separatist movement. The country was riven by discord. After six years, the people became poorer than they were in 1986. Economic growth was stunted. Even today, we have 25 million Filipinos mired in poverty. During her presidency, Cory was crippled by seven coup attempts.
Yet, today, Cory Aquino is known to the world as an angel, a freedom fighter, the Mother of Democracy, and the woman who inspired the Philippines’ most peaceful revolution, People Power I, and the restoration of democracy in some 30 other countries under a dictatorship.
The BS Aquino III presidency (June 30, 2010-June 30, 2016) is outranked only in incompetence and corruption of government people in his mother’s presidency. Yet, today, BS Aquino’s is the presidency that is supposed to have recaptured the Philippines’ lost decade of growth, made the country investment-grade for the first time, and one which achieved also for the first time, fiscal balance. Truth to tell, even if the president in the last six years were a dog or a rat, the Philippines would have achieved these milestones just the same. The economy was so strong it could stand the worst level of incompetence and corruption which became remarkable under BS Aquino.
Love of country. Ninoy’s father, Senator Benigno Aquino Sr. collaborated with the Japanese during the Japanese Occupation (when Marcos was fighting the occupiers) and was charged with for treason for collaborating with the enemy.
Senator Ninoy himself exposed a so-called Jabidah Massacre wherein commandos being trained in secret by President Marcos to invade Sabah (yes, our Sabah) were supposed to have been massacred in 1968. No dead bodies were recovered from Manila Bay as evidence of a massacre. Marcos believed that the best way to secure a territorial claim was to occupy it. Occupy Sabah was aborted because of Ninoy’s exposure of a bogus massacre. You know how much Sabah is worth today? Easily $3 trillion. Enough to make every one of the 26 million poor Filipinos today very rich.
BS Aquino III himself, as president, allowed the Chinese to occupy Scarborough Shoal for four years, illegally. He also allowed the Americans to operate five military bases in the Philippines. That’s love of country?
Pro-poor and inclusive growth. Under Cory Aquino, economic growth was stunted. Under BS Aquino III, economic growth could have been better. This is why we still have 25 million poor Filipinos despite the Philippines being one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia.
So let’s proceed with the burial of Marcos at Libingan and with that, bury with him the fake Aquino legacy.