Last September, I wrote an article titled “A Flawed Notion of Historical Revisionism” which was published here in the Manila Standard.
I wrote the article in reaction to the accusations hurled against singer-actress Toni Gonzaga of resorting to historical revisionism when she had presidential candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. as guest in her online program.
Today, I am revisiting the said article with additional inputs after a group of educators led by Oscar Campomanes, a professor at the Ateneo de Manila University, launched an online campaign calling for the defense of their so-called historical truth which is premised primarily on their claimed “traumatic personal and collective memories of plunder and human rights violation” under the Marcos dictatorship.
“We want to bring out a strong statement in defense of historical truth against unrelenting efforts to revise the historical record of plunder and human rights violations during martial law and the entire Marcos era,” read their manifesto, written in English, Filipino, and other regional languages.
Actually, I was supposed to write on this if not for some health concerns which bothered me the past few days.
Anyway, I just can’t understand what historical truth they are referring to in defense of their position. Again, I begin my article with a quote on Napoleon Bonaparte as I did in my previous article.
According to Napoleon, “What is history, but a fable agreed upon? By its very nature, history is always a one-sided account.”
Allow me to follow it up with another quote, this time from Leigh Teabing, a character in Dan Brown’s novel, “The Davinci Code.
In the book, Teabing was quoted as saying, “History is always written by the winners. When two cultures clash, the loser is obliterated, and the winner writes the history books – books which glorify their own cause and disparage the conquered foe.”
Now, let me ask these self-proclaimed defenders of the so-called historical truth: Who wrote the version of history are they trying to defend?
They decry the declaration of Martial Law as being the primary culprit in human rights violations that escalated sky-high during the time of then-President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.
Yes, the declaration of Martial Law is part of the historical truth. But what about the numerous sides of the story, which play a vital role in the historical truth which these people have deliberately omitted?
A crucial part of the historical truth, according to former cadres of the Communist Party of the Philippines who are now coming out, claims that party chairman Jose Maria “Joma” Sison had sold the soul of the revolution to the group of the late Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr. in exchange for funding and arms supply.
The collaboration between the Left and that section of the Oligarchs – precursor to the Yellows – was even openly manifested in 1978 when the Left fielded Alex Boncayao along with other traditional politicians, including Ninoy, in the election for the Interim Batasang Pambansa under the banner of the Laban ng Bayan or Laban.
According to these former cadres, Ninoy collaborated with the Left in bombing the Liberal Party miting de avance at Plaza Miranda in August 1971 which forced Marcos to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
Even the late Senator Jovy Salonga, in his book, expressed suspicion on Ninoy Aquino as he was conspicuously absent from such an important rally even as he, Ninoy, was supposed to be the star of the opposition Liberal Party.
And even before the Plaza Miranda bombing, Ninoy was already demonizing Marcos with his Jabidah Massacre exposé, which the Left capitalized on, but which later turned out to be a hoax.
There was a war going on between the State forces and the Underground Left which was openly being supported by the Legal Left.
Expectedly, there would be casualties on both sides. But as it was, all those killed and incarcerated were labeled as victims of human rights violation by the Legal Left.
But this has to be qualified. Those waging an armed struggle against the government were not listed in any roster, wore no uniform and didn’t flash any ID identifying them as armed combatants.
Thus, members of the Legal Left can easily vouch for a slain combatant as their member—a civilian mass activist—for them to claim he or she is a victim of human rights violation.
But non-combatants can’t seek refuge on the excuse they are not directly involved in the armed struggle, for it is the policy of the Party for its members to be prepared to be deployed in the New People’s Army anytime.
They are reservists. In fact, when you take an oath in any underground organization, the last line of the oath reads: “Buhay man ay ialay…”
Marcos was eventually ousted. Cory Aquino assumed the presidency. And these defenders of the so-called historical truth claim Cory restored democracy. But did she?
Cory benefited from the coup d’etat staged by then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile even as she was then hiding in a convent in Cebu.
These so-called defenders accuse the late Marcos of being a dictator for having delegated to himself the role of the executive and legislator.
But those powers came with the declaration of Martial Law which was provided for in the 1935 Constitution.
But Cory abolished the Constitution, established her revolutionary government, implemented her own laws, removed all local officials and replaced them with people of her own choice.
Restored democracy? Tell me about the Mendiola and Hacienda Luisita Massacres which claimed the lives of the poor peasants who were merely seeking a piece of land they could till.
Why are these missing in the historical truth these educators are trying to defend?
It is because history, as it is being taught today, has been written by a section of the society who had deposed the former president—the victors in the 1986 uprising.
To glorify their own cause and continue to disparage the conquered foe. Thus, they will continue to sell their version and interpretation of history as the truth.