It is almost beyond comprehension how some people try to hold Congressman Ferdinand Marcos II (Bongbong) “responsible” for the declaration of Martial Law by the late President Marcos especially now that he is running for Senator. Bongbong was barely fifteen years old when Martial Law was declared in 1972 not to mention he was in England attending to his schooling and perhaps, worrying about where to get tickets to the “sold out” Rolling Stones concert for that fall season as most youngsters his age were concerned with… or with the likes of it. It’s been more than 35 years since Martial Law was declared and President Marcos is no longer here to defend it having passed away two decades ago. Most of them who were with him during that period are likewise gone except for a few including the present Senate President, Juan Ponce Enrile and former President Ramos, both key players during the entire period of Marcos rule until the last few days. Others that served under Marcos are still serving in Congress while most of the rest are pillars in their respective industries. It is not for Bongbong Marcos to pass judgment, for obvious reasons, on the merits or shortcomings of the Martial Law period nor should he claim credit for the achievements of his father, such as the thousands of kilometers of roads built, the hundreds of schools erected, the bridges, the ports both sea and air, and the other numerous infrastructure projects that Filipinos benefited from and are still benefiting from up to today. Neither can he claim to have contributed to the robust agricultural sector of his father’s era, when not only was the Philippines self sufficient in rice but a major exporter of this crop. We could go on and on debating the positive and the negative of the Marcos era but that is best left for the historians to render a dispassionate accounting of that period in our history as a nation where his father, President Marcos, stood at the helm of government as President of the Republic of the Philippines.
Bongbong Marcos, in fairness, has declared that he is ready to be judged by the electorate not based on anyone’s actions, good or bad, but based on his own performance the last 15 years he has been in public service – nine years as Governor of Ilocos Norte and six years as Representative of the 2nd district of the same province.
To begin with, he transformed a third-class province into a first-class one (based on income) within his first term. With some 70% of Ilocanos dependent on agriculture (as in many other provinces), he raised agricultural productivity by focusing on rice production and cash crops and investing in hybrid seedlings production thereby succeeding in making his province self sufficient in rice instead of “importing” from other provinces. He set up one of the most if not the most successful program for “cooperatives” development in the entire country. He turned his province into a model for public health care by providing 100% of his province mates with health insurance. He “brought” Ilocos Norte to China by participating in International Tourism Conventions in Shanghai even when the Philippines as a country failed to participate in them. He lobbied the Chinese government to open a Consulate in Laoag City (the consulate opened two years ago) to make travel from China to Ilocos Norte easier and more convenient, capitalizing on Laoag City’s proximity to China and it’s being the northern international gateway into the country. In education, students from high schools of his province have become consistent “1st placers” in national student competitions in math and science. And in energy, he oversaw the creation of the first wind farm in Southeast Asia providing his province with half of its energy needs – cleaner and cheaper. And just as remarkable as all of these achievements is the fact that not once was he tainted with corruption or any anomaly in all his years in public service. The biggest proof of his sterling performance as governor is the fact that, in his last bid for the Governorship in 2004, he ran unopposed, and again, unopposed for Congressman in 2007.
If the voters will decide on giving him a Senate seat in the coming elections based on his performance, as they should with every other candidate’s respective track record, he may even top the race for the 12 seats that are up for grabs in the coming senatorial elections.