The death of President Corazon C. Aquino has once again revived suggestions of reconciliation between political families, most notably, the Marcoses and the Aquino’s. The animosity, quarrel, acrimony, loathing even, between these two families began as early as the late sixties during the second term of President Marcos and the election of Ninoy Aquino in 1971as the youngest senator of the Philippines. Marcos was to finish his second and last term as President in 1973 while Ninoy was, for all intents and purposes, preparing to be his successor. The late sixties leading up to 1972 were tumultuous years in as far as political street activism was concerned. This was true not only in the Philippines but in most other countries, the United States in particular due to the growing anti-Vietnam war sentiment among the youth as well as assassinations, in quick succession, of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. Violent street demonstrations had become frequent in the capitals of the world from Paris to Tokyo to Manila, New York, London, etc. In the Philippines, grenades were lobbed at the stage of the final political rally of the Liberal party at Plaza Miranda (1971 mid term senatorial and local elections) ensuring the victory of all but two in the Liberal party senatorial slate. Ninoy Aquino topped that race but curiously, was not present when the grenades exploded. He had sent word at the last minute that he would be arriving late so was saved from the harm of the explosion. Many others were hurt, some seriously. Blame was placed on Marcos by his opponents which he vehemently denied suggesting it was the work of the communists. The following year, amidst more street demonstrations, sporadic bombings, and more vilification of the Marcos administration by the local media, the “lame duck” Marcos declared Martial Law and jailed some of his opponents including Ninoy Aquino. The rest, as they say, is history.
Fast forward to the wake of Mrs. Aquino: after some indirect communication between the Aquino and Marcos “children,” finally, Bong-Bong and Imee are in the church face to face with the eldest of the Aquino daughters, Balsy, and a couple of the grandsons. Both “sides” behave graciously and appropriately.
Now, everyone has an opinion on the manner in which a reconciliation of both families should proceed, if at all. There are some that remember the words of Mrs. Aquino: “there can be no reconciliation without justice.” Well, as far as we know, besides the soldiers that accompanied Senator Aquino down the tarmac and who have served time in jail for over twenty years, there has been no court that has found anyone else guilty. In other words, the “who masterminded it” remains unresolved. To assume the Marcos children know who masterminded it is being naive. If (and this is a big IF because in fact, Marcos was heavily medicated and at his death throes around the time of Ninoy’s flight back to Manila) the assassination of Ninoy was indeed hatched in the palace, we doubt if this was a subject discussed with the children over family dinner. In the same manner that the decision to disallow Marcos and his family to return to Manila (every Filipino’s right) was not an Aquino family decision made during Sunday lunch but a decision of her advisers and herself with the full cooperation of the Americans. All other aspects of the “feud” (media thrives on feuds) between these two families have really nothing to do with the children on either side. Nobody will sue Chelsea Clinton in the future for her father’s sexual indiscretions of the past and nobody will go after the Bush twins, after their father has gone, for having invaded Iraq,
Again, it was not Bong-Bong or his sisters that declared Martial Law. It was their dad with the help of Senator Enrile, President Ramos, Cory’s cousin Danding Cojuanco, etc. and the Filipino’s allowed it. Subsequently, with Cory at the helm, democracy was restored. Observe that those of us that put democracy “above all” are the same ones that marvel with envy at the economic growth of non-democratic Singapore, China, Malaysia and even Vietnam. The principals involved in the Aquino-Marcos political battle are now gone. Having said that, our question is: what changes can we expect from a reconciliation between the remaining members of both families in as far as reconciling the fact that a handful of families control the wealth of this country while half the population starve? What changes in our corrupt culture will be effected if Bong-Bong and Noynoy decide to shake hands and go out for a beer? If Imee and Balsy were to decide to put the past behind and celebrate that with an outdoor barbecue, will that end the existence of political dynasties and patronage politics? Perhaps we are again putting too much importance on something that will have very little effect in solving the deeper problems of our nation. Next….