By Artchil B. Fernandez
On Monday, 65.7 million Filipino voters will troop to the polling precincts to cast their vote in the most consequential election in the country’s history in nearly four decades. The 2022 election is a turning point for the Philippines. It marks the year the country either moves further into the dark or steps into the light.
For historical context, the Filipino people rose and overthrew the patently corrupt, morally bankrupt, and repressive Marcos dictatorship 36 years ago. Tomorrow, Filipinos will decide whether to return the Marcoses to power or chart a new future by rejecting the country’s dark past.
The question before the Filipino electorate is simple – move forward or backward. Returning the Marcoses and their allies to power is a giant leap backward while repudiating them is a monumental step toward a bright and better future.
Darkness will once again descend upon the Philippines if the Marcoses and their allies return to power. This infamous family ruled the country for twenty years. In the two decades the Marcoses were in power, the Philippines plummeted from a vibrant nation into the “Sick Man of Asia.”
The Marcos dictatorship crippled the economy through mismanagement and massive graft and corruption. Philippine development was stunted consigning more than half of Filipinos to grinding poverty. Human rights abuses were widespread as Marcos senior used terror to cow Filipinos to submit to his tyranny. Arrest without a warrant was common as well as torture of political dissenters. Others disappeared without a trace.
Aside from devastating the country’s economy and committing horrendous human rights violations, the Marcoses also robbed the national treasury. The family stole US$10 billion from the Filipino people and so far nearly half of the loot had been recovered.
Given the macabre record of the Marcoses, putting them back to power is tantamount to national suicide. For one, the family remains unrepentant and remorseless of the high crimes they committed against the Filipino nation. Their refusal to acknowledge their wrongdoings is a big red flag to Filipinos and signals it will be “business as usual” once the Marcoses return to Malacañang. By insisting that what they did were not wrong, the Marcoses will keep on doing them once they are back.
The Marcoses do not care about the Filipino people. Their agenda for returning to power is to protect and advance their interest. They have an unpaid PHP203 billion estate tax and close to PHP100 billion (PHP99.6B) of ill-gotten wealth is still in litigation. A Marcos win means goodbye for good to these huge amounts of money they owed to Filipinos. The Marcoses will not only keep them, but they will also get back the stolen wealth previous administrations have recovered.
There are still numerous pending legal cases involving the Marcoses. These cases will be out-rightly dismissed or withdrawn by the government in the event of a Marcos win. Imelda Marcos, the other half of the conjugal dictatorship will have her guilty verdict on graft overturned if not given a presidential pardon.
In short, a Marcos victory will only benefit the Marcoses and their allies who are either also guilty of plunder or are accused of plundering the national coffers. The united team of robbers hit a jackpot once the Marcoses are back.
The biggest loser is the Filipino people and nation in the event of a Marcos win. The Axis of Evil only has self-serving agenda. These cabals of oligarchs will further enrich themselves at the expense of Filipinos. This is plainly clear since Marcos’s candidacy is anchored on lies and falsehoods.
Deception had taken the center stage in this election and the Marcos campaign is driven by fiction, lies, and falsehoods. The Marcoses have employed all forms of treachery and trickery to fool and deceive the voting public. Among the myths they foisted on the unsuspecting are the “golden age” during the Marcos dictatorship falsely claiming that the Philippines was the second richest country in Asia and the fabled “Tallano gold” as the source of the Marcos fabulous wealth.
If Filipinos make a grave mistake in the 2022 election, an uncertain and turbulent future awaits them. In the end, the lies will be punctured by the truth and once this happens the country will be plunged into chaos and unrest. The new Marcos regime founded on lies and deception will flounder and eventually collapse. Marcos senior ruled the country by lying and destroyed the nation. The son following the footstep of his father is riding to power in the waves of lies and falsehoods and will likely ruin the country.
Filipinos cannot have a country run by thieves, but they might get one if they make a wrong decision in tomorrow’s election. Putting a cabal of robbers in charge of the fate of the nation will be disastrous, a calamity of epic proportion.
It is for this reason that the 2022 election is a turning point for the country. Will Filipinos break free from the past where plunderers were at the commanding heights of power or chart a new future by rejecting “Alibaba and his forty thieves” and elect leaders who are honest, with integrity and proven track record of good governance?
The choice before Filipinos in the 2022 election is clear: robbers or trustworthy; liars or honest; iniquitous or righteous? If the gang of thieves wins, they will rule the country for a long time but if they are defeated, it might be for good. Will Filipinos finally vanquish the team of robbers and choose morally upright people to lead them?
These questions will be answered by the outcome of the 2022 election. Nevertheless, one should remain hopeful that the vast majority of Filipinos will choose public service over self-service, good over evil, right over wrong, light over darkness.