Candidate to academe: tell your students what happened under Marcos

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /15 February) – Presidential candidate Norberto Gonzales called on the academe to “tell your students or inform your students what happened in the past” and tell them that the campaign being waged by frontrunner Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos “is a big lie.”

Gonzales said Marcos is revising history and talking about a glorious past under martial law and the dictatorship of his father, Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, as if the people who lived through that period forget. “Pero may natitira pang witnesses (There are surviving witnesses). I am one of them.” 

Gonzales was the first Presidential candidate featured in Candid Dates 2022, a series of online conversations between Mindanawon voters and candidates running for President, Vice President and local seats in the May 9, 2022 elections. The forum is presented by the Davao Association of Catholic Schools (DACS) and co-presented by the Initiatives for International Dialogue, MindaNews and the Mindanao Consortium of Ateneo  comprising the Ateneo de Davao, Zamboanga and Cagayan de Oro. 

Gonzales said supporters of Marcos keep saying the son should not be blamed for the sins of his father “but you see, masakit sa puso eh. You know, nagsimula kami since martial law na maging aktibista. I experienced martial law, I experienced the years that led to martial law.”

Adela Apitan Yugon holds a photo of the victims of Lampasak Massacre in Barangay Alegri, Alabel in Sarangani Province in 1985 under the Marcos dictatorship. The massacre claimed 17 lives, including 12 of her relatives. She is among those joining the long queue of claimants wanting to to be served by the Human Rights Violations Victims Claims Board in Davao City on 5 August 2014. MindaNews photo by Toto Lozano

The Marcos family, he said, is revising history. “We will not allow that to happen,” he said. He called on activists of that period who are still alive, to speak up. “We know what happened during martial law, we know what happened why Marcos declared martial law.”

Gonzales said contrary to claims that the economy was thriving, the economy was down. Activists took to the streets just before Marcos declared martial law on September 21, 1972. 

The former Defense Secretary and National Security Adviser under the Arroyo administration said Marcos used communism as an excuse to declare martial law when “wala pang dalawang dosena ang NPA(New Peoples Army)  during that time” (There were not even two dozens of NPA then), he said. 

He said as student activists, they marched for Charter Change just before martial law because they thought it was “about time that we change the charter, it is about time that we have political change in the nation.”

“Mga kabataan, dami namin (we were so many, the youth)  but then martial law was declared can you imagine?” Gonzales recalled, adding that young people had to go underground, joined the communists, were killed. Activists were called communists by Marcos “and then now, today, you have a candidate who says ‘hindi ko naman alam yan’ (I do not know that)? Anong hindi alam (How can he claim he did not know when) he is the administrator of the wealth that is father stole from the nation,” Gonzales said. 

He said if it is true the Marcoses were giving that to the country, why wait till he becomes President?  

A fact-check by Rappler on June 4, 2021 showed that while Marcos’ father, wrote in his personal diary on December 31, 1969 that he would “give away” all his “worldly possessions” to the Filipino people through a “Ferdinand E. Marcos Foundation” and would  “ask some closest confidants to study the mechanics of this decision,”  the confidants did not include his only son Ferdinand. The son also “never publicly committed to giving his family’s wealth to the Filipino people through the Ferdinand E. Marcos Foundation. “There are no interviews, public announcements, or official news reports wherein he speaks about his plans to do so,” it said. 

In Malacanang on August 29, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte told a mass oathtaking of newly-appointed officials that a spokesperson of the Marcos family told him they would return part of the wealth “pati yung a few gold bars” that the deposed dictator allegedly hid because he was “protecting the economy.”

“Hindi ganon kalaki (It’s not as huge). It’s not a Fort Knox, it’s just a few. But sabi nila isauli nila para walang ano” (But they said they will return it), Duterte said.

He said he was informed that the father, referring to the ousted President Marcos, “was protecting the economy. Now, of course, the eventual kung maalis siya. But he … thought of regaining the Malacañan and that is why ganito ang lumabas. Parang naitago.” 

“I will accept the explanation, whether or not it is true, wala na eh. And they are ready to return. How much they would give me an accounting?,” Duterte asked as he said he was “trying to look for a guy not identified with anybody to handle the negotiation kung gusto nila. I’m looking at a former Chief Justice. Sila na lang mag-usap, then another CPA, and maybe a representative of all that is accepted also by all.”

No return has been made since. 

Gonzales said that if Marcos wins the election, he foresees the seizure of big companies that were owned by the Marcoses before they were ousted by People Power in 1986, but in the name of their dummies. 

“These people will attempt to recover, will attempt to consolidate, kawawa yung mga front nila na tumakbo at hindi nagsoli sa kanila at nagsoli sa gobyerno (pity their fronts who didn’t return their companies to them but to the government).  See, that is the future.”

Arroyo, under whose Presidency from 2001 to 2010 Gonzales served in three Cabinet posts, said he kept his candidacy “a secret from her as long as I can. I don’t want to have, I didn’t consult her, I didn’t ask her permission or anything of that sort.”

Arroyo is credited as having been behind the team-up of Marcos, Jr. and Davao City Vice Mayor Sara Duterte as his running mate. 

Gonzales said he is running for President to accept the challenge, though belatedly, of his friend, Fr. Archie Intengan who reminded him that the PDSP is composed of ordinary people but in every election PDSP is just supporting other personalities as if it does not trust that ordinary people can win elections.

He said Intengan also asked him why he keeps supporting people and “why are you not leading political change yourself?”

“He died before I can answer. Now I am answering you. I’m accepting this challenge. I’m going to do this because I am 75. I cannot do this six years from now.  I will be 81 six years from now. I have to do it today so I’m doing it. 

Winning, losing, that’s beside the point.”

But he asked the public to be discerning. “Try to examine the past elections: popularity does not determine victor, that I know.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)