The Manila Times : All candidates should be heard, even Bongbong

17 October 2021

By The Manila Times

AS expected, the volume of black propaganda has grown with the onset of the election season. Mudslinging, character assassinations and outright lies are, regrettably, common fare in a political process, but that does not dampen our desire for an elevated discourse on national issues as well as for an honest review of character and competence, commonly expected from the next President. Of course, every aspirant should answer tough questions and face scrutiny between now and election day. And all of them deserve to be heard.

Views and platforms can and should be challenged without being disrespectful. Our hope is for a civil and meaningful election discourse. Most might see that as wishful thinking, and they would probably be right. Already, social media and other channels are rife with name-calling and similar attacks.

For instance, the term "dilawan" has been lobbed at Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo, referring to the official color of the Liberal Party. She remains as its chairman, even though she filed her candidacy as an independent and has switched her campaign color to pink.

It is her former opponent for vice president, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., however, who seems to be getting more than his fair share of the political vitriol. Even Manila Mayor Francisco "Isko Moreno" Domagoso, another candidate for President, was bashed for suggesting that people should get over their Marcos hangover.

Mr. Moreno has a point. Former president Ferdinand Marcos died long ago, and more than half of the population today were born after the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled him from power.

Not a few have suggested that children should not suffer the sins of the father. Besides, the younger Marcos now running for President has his own record that voters can scrutinize. He was elected governor of their home province of Ilocos Norte in 1998, more than a decade after the EDSA revolution. Later, Mr. Marcos became congressman of a district there and served two terms. And more recently he was a senator, before losing to Miss Robredo in 2016.

Available for scrutiny

Those arguing that kleptocracy might return if a Marcos becomes president again should check whether the coffers of Ilocos Norte were emptied when Bongbong was its chief executive. Besides, graft and corruption were not eradicated after 1986. Some even say they became worse.

Also, some fear that the brutality of the martial law period might return if former senator Marcos wins in 2022. They should not compare the situation at present with his father's time in office. The late president Marcos dealt with two revolutionary movements, including a communist insurgency that perpetrated terrorist attacks, like the bombing of Plaza Miranda in 1971, and created political unrest in their attempt to gain control.

If all the Marcoses were such incorrigible human rights abusers, their family would not keep getting elected to public office. The younger Mr. Marcos and his sister, incumbent Sen. Imee Marcos, would not win in national elections. Their mother, former first lady Imelda Marcos, might not get elected to Congress. Either the Marcoses have been reformed, or the history of their patriarch's time in office is yet to be objectively studied.

Those who say the Marcoses are revisionists are perhaps unfamiliar with how history forms. Stories evolve over time, as new records or insights become available. Even views can change when events are revisited after passions subside. If history is written on stone, as it were, then there would be no need to pursue it as a discipline in graduate schools.

Finally, those who fear the Marcoses' return to power will be disappointed to realize that they have been back for many decades already. As mentioned earlier, they were elected to local governments up north and to national posts in both houses of Congress.

To be clear, we are not endorsing any particular candidate at this time. Our point here simply suggests keeping an open mind about every candidate.

Choosing whom to support based merely on political rhetoric, especially those generated by propaganda, seems like a flimsy way to make important decisions. Fortunately, we have plenty of time before May 2022.