“You’ve got to be kidding, BBM.”
The DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) and FDA (Food and Drug Administration) should ask the namesake and heir of President Ferdinand E. Marcos if he is duly licensed to sell the product ‘Amnesia’ to Filipinos who will be voting in the coming election. It’s virtually certain that BBM (Bongbong Marcos) does not have the required DTI and FDA licenses.
The product that BBM is hawking is intended to make Filipino voters experience amnesia about all the bad things that happened in this country between September 21, 1972 and February 25, 1986 – the violations of the Constitution, the political prosecutions, the confiscations of properties, the abuses of human rights, the cronyism and nepotism, and so on. Ingesting his product Amnesia, Mr. Marcos Jr. wants Filipino voters to suddenly have no recollection of all those nasty things.
BBM is very ambitious. He has been going beyond trying to make Filipinos forget every bad thing that happened between the day that his father placed this country under martial law and the night that he, his parents and his siblings were unceremoniously bundled off to Hawaii by the U.S. military; he has been telling the people of this country that the martial-law regime ran by Ferdinand E. Marcos was a golden age.
Golden age? BBM obviously does not know the meaning of that phrase, for there was nothing golden about what happened to the Philippine economy from August 21, 1983 to the overthrow of his father’s regime two and a half years later. On that day began the worst downturn that the economy of this country has experienced in the post-World War II era – worse, even, than the 9.4 percent GDP (gross domestic product) decline sustained by the economy in 2020.
August 21, 1983 was, of course, the day on which former Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., returning from a three-year exile in the U.S., was assassinated as he disembarked at the airport that now bears his name. Since the detail that escorted Sen. Aquino from his plane was composed of soldiers, the Filipino people – and the international community – concluded that the Opposition leader had been assassinated with the knowledge of Malacanang. The Filipino people and the world reacted with horror, dismay and disgust.
The Philippine economy immediately went into a tailspin. Fearing flight of capital out of the contrary and of runaway inflation as Filipinos engaged in a pre-emptive buying spree, the CBP (Central Bank of the Philippines), then headed by Jose “Jobo” Fernandez Jr., launched a liquidity-mopping-up operation that saw the benchmark Treasury bill rate rise to an unprecedented 42 percent. With panic-buying, the decline in producer confidence and skyrocketing of interest rates occasioned by the ‘Jobo bills,’ inflation rose to as high as 65 percent.
Externally, the fallout from the Aquino assassination consisted of severe rebukes from international organizations – especially the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank – and the turning off of credit flows from the foreign banking community. Not only did many banks suspend lending to the Philippine government. Those that maintained their lending did so on the basis of sharply higher interest rates. The Marcos regime had become a pariah with a capital P.
With inflation raging, unemployment much higher and the economy running short of foreign exchange, things looked really grim during the days and months immediately following the butchery of Senator Aquino. And they were to remain pretty much in that state until the Filipino people, deciding that enough was enough, overthrew the overstaying Marcos regime in four days of peaceful and determined action along the stretch of EDSA.
The World Bank was heard to say, subsequently, that the long recession triggered by Senator Aquino’s assassination pushed millions of Filipinos below the poverty line.
The worst recession in the post-World War II history of the Philippine economy took place squarely within the period of the Marcos regime. Martial law was a golden-age time for the Philippines? You’ve got to be kidding, BBM.