Hidden agenda

By Artchil B. Fernandez

Forging stronger ties with a long-standing ally is the official agenda of Bongbong Marcos’ (BBM) second visit to the United States (US) early this month. There is however a hidden agenda in BBM’s US visits as well as in his frequent trips abroad.

The unofficial agenda of BBM’s incessant foreign travels was revealed at the end of his recent US visit. Speaking to Reuters, he again tried to whitewash the dark past of his family and push their alternative view on the issues.

BBM told Reuters that Filipinos should stop focusing on the past and look into the future. The past referred to was the 20-year rule of the Marcos family marked by unbridled corruption, horrific human rights violations, massive poverty, collapse of the economy and resurgent Muslim and communist insurgencies.

“These are not the things that Filipinos feel we must be talking about. We need to be talking about livelihoods, about jobs, about education, about the economy,” BBM insisted. “My opposition would try to bring up this old issue. But of course, we answer to the voting public and the voting public has given their very clear and loud response to that and that they are not worried,” he added.

For decades the Marcoses had been harping and hammering “move on” to whitewash the corruption and authoritarianism that characterized the dictatorship of Marcos senior.  Filipinos should not dwell on the past the Marcoses emphasized. “Forget the past” is the mantra the Marcos family kept on repeating to escape responsibility for their high crimes against the Filipino people.

“A fractured society that continues to fight battles that are 45 years old is selling itself short because it’s the future that we’re worried about, not the past,” BBM further said.  The quest for justice and accountability divides the country BBM asserts and the fight he suggests should be abandoned, buried and forgotten.

Whitewashing, burying and forgetting the dark past of the country is the best thing to the Marcos family who are responsible for it. This is the only way for them to evade justice and avoid being made accountable for their horrible deeds.

It is not surprising that distorting history and burying it is high on the agenda of the Marcoses. Since driven into exile, this has been the obsession of the Marcos family.  With the Marcoses now back in Malacañang, they are using the Office of the President to legitimize their nefarious agenda.

Against the backdrop of the ferocious effort of the Marcos family led by BBM to conceal and sugarcoat their dark deeds, it is crucial to assert and uphold the facts about their high crimes. Courts have found the Marcoses guilty of numerous wrongdoings.

On December 21, 1990, the Swiss Supreme Court ruled that the $683 million Marcos deposits in Swiss banks are “of criminal provenance.” The Philippine Supreme Court on July 15, 2003 handed a ruling on the same funds declaring them ill-gotten. “In the face of undeniable circumstances and the avalanche of documentary evidence against them, respondent Marcoses failed to justify the lawful nature of their acquisition of the said assets,” the PH High Court declared in its ruling. “The Swiss deposits should be considered ill-gotten wealth and forfeited in favour of the state.”

The U.S. District Court panel in Hawaii on February 3, 1995 ordered the Marcos estate to pay 10,000 human rights victims $770 million in compensatory damages and $1.2 billion in punitive damages for suffering torture and other atrocities under the Marcos dictatorship. The Hawaii class suit was considered the first successful case filed against the late dictator.

Imelda Marcos, the other half of the conjugal dictatorship was found guilty of seven counts of graft by the Sandiganbayan’s Fifth Division on November 9, 2018. She was sentenced to a minimum of six years and one month to a maximum prison sentence of 11 years “for each count” of graft.

On May 1, 1991, a Hawaii court ordered Imee Marcos to pay an indemnity of $4.16 million for the murder of Mapua student-leader Archimedes Trajano. Part of the court’s ruling stated: “…judgment was entered based on the court’s findings that Trajano was tortured and his death was caused by Marcos-Manotoc. The court concluded that this violation of fundamental human rights constitutes a tort in violation of the law of nations under 28 U.S.C. § 1350, and awarded damages of $4.16 million and attorneys’ fees pursuant to Philippine law.”

Least to be forgotten BBM himself is a convicted tax-evader. In July 1995, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court found him guilty of tax evasion beyond reasonable doubt and imposed the following penalties: imprisonment of 6 months and P2,000 each for 3 counts of failure to file ITR (1982, 1983 and 1984); imprisonment of 6 months and P2,000 each for 3 counts of failure to pay income taxes (1982, 1983 and 1984), and imprisonment of 3 years and pay fine of P30,000 for failure to pay income tax for 1985. The judgment became final and executory on August 31, 2001.

These court rulings found the Marcoses guilty of terrible crimes – graft and corruption, murder, human rights violations, tax evasion, ill-gotten wealth. These litigated court cases took decades to resolve. The courts have ruled with finality on these cases. The guilt of the Marcoses beyond- reasonable doubt is clearly established by the courts.

The hidden agenda of BBM’s foreign trips is to erase the horrific crimes committed by his family from public consciousness. The unrepentant Marcos family must not be allowed to succeed in whitewashing and distorting history. To forget the past is to doom this nation to reproduce the wicked deeds. Making the Marcoses accountable for their past actions is the only way to prevent history from repeating itself.