"Was Marcos a hero or a heel?"
The nation marked last Sept. 21 the imposition of martial law by strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos.
Sadly, all we read and hear are the narratives of abuses committed during those days. These bring to fore the question: Was Marcos a hero or a heel? The answer: It depends.
To many who envy his ingenuity, vision and foresight, and to those who seek revenge, Marcos is most certainly a heel.
But to those who are aware and appreciative of his remarkable performance during this time, he can also be seen as a hero.
The fact is that Marcos was not fully aware of what was happening during those years of infamy.
Then again, who can deny that he was responsible for starting the first light railway of the country with LRT1? Who can also deny that he was responsible for the beginning of the North Luzon Expressway and the South Luzon Expressway, as well as the Marcos Highway that connected Luzon with the island of Leyte?
Those projects made traveling so much easier.
Who can deny that during the first two years of martial law, we saw relative stability throughout the country?
Santa Banana, the years of the dictatorship were not all bad as the Marcos haters would have us believe.
As a journalist and lawyer, I would like to believe that the legacy of Marcos—great infrastructure projects and 7,883 presidential decrees and other legal issuances—is not entirely bad.
In other words, Marcos’ place in history is assured.
Retired Justice Manuel “Lolong” Lazaro said in his introduction to “The Marcos Legacy” by Cecil Arillo: “It is typical of some people to have short memories of another’s good deeds, but long memories of the other’s bad or perceived wrongs.”
The crafting and formulation of thousands of legal issuances that have the force and effect of the law covering every phase of human life, from birth to death, include:
The Judiciary Development Fund the basis of the financial benefits of the members of the judiciary, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, an alternative revenue source to fund miscellaneous activities of the government, the Export Processing Authority to attract foreign investments, the Movie and Television Review and Classification Board, the Philippine Coconut Authority to develop coconut production and export, the Philippine Tourism Authority, laws on socialized housing, the Philippine Heart Center, Kidney Center, Philippine Children’s Center, establishment of the biggest oil company now known as Petron, establishment of a nuclear power plant, geothermal power plants as alternative sources of energy, exploration and drilling in Malampaya.
Marcos is also the only president who acknowledged, by law, the importance of arts and culture in the like of the nation. There was the construction of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and the huge Philippine International Convention Center.
Lazaro also said that in time, Marcos will be vindicated. “He is a great man unjustly judged at the wrong time by wrong minds. Time and history will vindicate his vision and foresight especially in lawmaking. Generations freed from the ugly blemishes of hate, vengeance and prejudice will look more kindly and with gratitude on his achievements and contributions to the nation.”
I say amen.
Marcos haters perpetuated the hoax of People Power in 1986. Not even half a million people gathered on Edsa. This was not a revolution because there was no system change! We simply changed regimes, that’s what.
Martial law at that time served its purpose. It had to be done because Marcos was facing a three-pronged problem: The communist movement, separatist movement in Mindanao led by Nur Misuari, and an independence movement.
Had Marcos delayed proclaiming martial law, who knows what would have happened?
Good deeds cannot be expunged. Good survives and triumphs in the end.
* * *
Sometimes, rules and regulations themselves become the stumbling block to progress and development.
The New Manila International Airport by San Miguel Corporation easily comes to mind. The proposal was submitted many years ago. Why was it not acted upon then?
The proposal had to go through the National Economic and Development Authority through its Investment Coordinating Council, a group of bureaucrats who think they know better than Ramon Ang.
Had they acted sooner, we would be enjoying the benefits of the new airport now!