President Ferdinand Marcos was the most powerful President in Philippine history. With nearly absolute power, he led the country under a strongman government from September 1972 when he placed the entire country under martial law until February 1986 when he gave up power to prevent a bloody uprising.
When they were president, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino (1986-1992) and her son Benigno Aquino III (2010-2016) ignored the accomplishments of President Marcos and delighted in portraying the constitutional strongman as a ruthless authoritarian.
This editorial is about what Marcos did not do as president, which the Aquino presidents and their historical revisionists have desperately tried to assign to the dustbin of history.
Since the early years of Philippine independence, the vast military reservation known as Fort Bonifacio in the Makati-Taguig area was the home of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Non-commissioned officers and enlisted men who could not afford their own homes were provided decent housing inside the reservation. Hundreds of hectares of large trees inside the military reservation and the golf course within it provided fresh air in the metropolis.
By the time the Philippines was under martial law, Fort Bonifacio became extremely valuable real estate due to its proximity to plush Makati subdivisions like Forbes Park and Dasmariñas Village. With his awesome powers, President Marcos could have easily converted Fort Bonifacio into a large piece of expensive prime real estate and profited from its disposition.
President Marcos did touch Fort Bonifacio. He left it as it should be — a home for those valiant men and women who defend our country from internal threats and external aggression.
During the administration of President Fidel Ramos, a former AFP chief of staff and Mrs. Aquino’s anointed successor to Malacañang, Fort Bonifacio was sold off to commercial interest groups and was converted to the pricey real estate enclave now known as Bonifacio Global City. Soldiers displaced from their homes in Fort Bonifacio were compelled to seek shelter elsewhere. Ironically, the soldiers lost their homes during the presidency of an ex-military man.
President Marcos considered gambling casinos a menace to the nation’s social fabric. Upon the proclamation of martial law, Marcos did not allow the pre-martial law-era casinos in Manila and Pasay City to continue their operations. Only one casino was allowed to operate, and it was exclusively for foreign tourists willing to throw away money at the gambling tables.
The Aquinos expanded the casinos during their separate incumbencies. Today, the Philippines is the gambling destination in this part of the world.
Under President Marcos, the Philippine National Bank (PNB) was what it was supposed to be — the national bank of the Philippines and the depository bank of the government. For obvious reasons, Marcos did not allow the private sector to own the bank. Sadly, the privatization of the PNB began under Mrs. Aquino and was completed under President Ramos.
After the Arab oil cartel used oil as an economic weapon, Marcos did not allow the Philippines to be at the entire mercy of the cartel. He created the Philippine National Oil Corporation (PNOC) and the oil price stabilization fund to protect Filipino consumers from drastic increases in fuel prices. After Marcos, the oil fund was abolished; the PNOC was privatized. As a result, motorists in the Philippines are again vulnerable to sudden increases in fuel prices.
Because Marcos did not allow communists to threaten national security, local Reds like Jose Ma. Sison were kept behind bars. Likewise, Marcos did not allow priests to meddle in the government. Upon seizing power, Mrs. Aquino released Sison and his group and allowed Jaime Cardinal Sin to influence her government. Today, Sison harasses the nation from his comfort zone in Holland and priests think they have the right to meddle in politics.
Under Marcos, the government maintained law and order in trouble spots in Muslim Mindanao. During Aquino III’s watch, 44 elite policemen were left to die in a failed attempt to serve a warrant of arrest on a Malaysian terrorist hiding in Mamasapano in Maguindanao.
In 1983, Marcos did not use his power to compel University of the Philippines College of Law to issue a diploma to his daughter Imee. The fact that Marcos did not do so is something the anti-Marcos sector conveniently avoids discussing in the ongoing campaign for the May 2019 elections.