Soon he participated actively in the military, earning 28 medals all in all; some of them prestigious grants by the United States, but most were later found out to be phonies. Fakes or for real, these has helped him pave his way to heading the Philippine government. Marriage was even a political move for him. He married the beautiful and popular Imelda Romualdez, who was considered the Rose of Tacloban. Together, they both hold two religions and the northern and southern part of our country, plus thousands of supporters. It became easy for him to become a Congressman, then a Senator, and soon he tasted sweet victory as he was elected the sixth President of the Republic of the Philippines in the year 1966. Marcos was elected twice in the position. During his terms, the economy boosted. He built hundreds of classrooms and other infrastructures like bridges and looked after the country well.
But by the end of his second term, he did not want to give up his authority and power. At first he denied the rumors about him planning to declare Martial Law in order to rule the country again. However his plans got a way to the public as Ninoy Aquino revealed the OPLAN: Sagittarius, Napoleon Rama warning Marcos not to run again, and Eduardo Tintero divulging his targets.
He pulled all the tricks up his sleeves and resorted to coercion: he faked the ambush of his ally, Juan Ponce Enrile; he was the suspect of the Jabida Massacre, the ghost Joe’s Department and the Plaza Miranda bombing where all the oppositions got injured; he came up with excuses to suspend the writ of habeas corpus; he took advantage of the typhoon that devastated Central Luzon; he planned to change the system into Parliament or build a Garrison state (a state ruled by the military) so he could still assume power; he bribed his cabinet members, the “Rolex 12”, while they plan on how to amass power. Nothing could stop this man from executing every political move to maintain a total control of the country. After all, he’s got the guns, the goons, and the gold! It wasn’t long before the day he declared Martial Law, on September 12, 1972, with a promise to “save the republic, and reform our country”. His plan? It is to fabricate a New Society.
With this purpose in mind, he arrested the people who dared to go against him. One good thing that he did was to fire government officials who were allegedly corrupt and replaced them with more honest officials. Throughout his term, and since he was a lawyer, he legalized approximately 3,000 Presidential decrees and Presidential instructions, even making an effort to make the Martial Law look authorized. He successfully gained American support—even though they were really just concerned of their interests and military bases in the Philippines. He hired technocrats, and for awhile production, thus the GDP, increased significantly. Because of the high export product prices, the economy, for the first time, had budget surpluses.
However, most of the years he ruled brought economic and political disasters. His amnesty report showed thousands of Filipinos who got arrested, injured, and tortured. He also organized RAM, which stands for Reform the Armed forces of the Philippines Movement which dominated the Philippines, harassing innocent citizens. An effect of massive violence is the loss of credibility for businesses, and withdrawal of foreign investments, which weakened the economy, raising the height of poverty among Filipinos. His wife Imelda, who was a sinfully luxurious woman, used the people’s money to erect cultural centers, hospitals, landmarks, and maybe even our cash for shoe shopping. Some of the erected buildings were hastily constructed causing unnecessary deaths, and bad investments. In the present, some of these erected buildings are about to be demolished in fear of untimely destruction. What a waste! She also travelled to different nations around the world, taking her sweet time partying ‘all expenses paid’. Ferdinand also controlled businesses—seizing the Lopez companies like Meralco and ABS-CBN, and gave them to his golf-mates, fraternity brothers, family members and relatives, simply called cronies. Most of his cronies have little knowledge and experience in running businesses, causing most of their companies to face bankruptcy and eventually shut down. In fear of getting robbed of their companies, the country experienced capital flight, where our businessmen leave to invest someplace else. He directed institutions, such as schools, to teach only positive lessons about the government, making the children sing a new anthem. He monopolized the media. The newspapers that got published did not reflect the truth that people needed to hear. It was biased, filtered, and meant to brainwash them into thinking everything is running peacefully, when it was going on the opposite path. Same thing happened in news reports in radios and the television. During two consecutive years, the GNP contracted for about 15%. The Philippines experienced a balance of payment crisis. In addition to those, the war in the Middle East boosted inflation and the foreign debts we owe ballooned every year because of the expense that the Marcoses indebted.
Tears for Freedom
But Filipinos did not remain silent. Pluralisms soon emerged in the form of anti-Marcos government organizations such as the CPP-NPA-NDF (Communist Party of the Philippines, New People’s Army, National Democratic Front), the LFS (League of Filipino Students) and the MNLF and MILF (Moro National Liberation Front, Moro Islamic Liberation Front), which was sponsored by rich countries in the Middle East, to say the list. Different sectors fought against the exploitive dictatorship of Marcos under the Martial Law. Brave political parties dared to oppose his long and hard rule, thus causing political and economic instability. Numerous times, dirty and choreographed snap elections were held in order to prove the legitimacy of Marcos’ authority. These national snap elections were expensive and costly, only for them to be cheated by the man through bribery and black mail. Soon, during the latter years of his reign, mosquito press surfaced, such as Mr. & Ms. and Malaya. Non-government controlled radios broadcasted the truth about the fraudulent President. And especially with the death of Ninoy Aquino, the long-infuriated people united and mustered all their strength to overthrow the violence and distraught that Ferdinand Marcos advocated for two decades.
In present time, Marcos has been dead for 22 years, yet still unburied. He indeed continues to haunt Filipinos economically, even the unborn ones, because of the debt he incurred to our country. It is still a question to me why they didn’t pay a cent for what they did—why Imelda is enjoying her life right now while the country is drastically suffering from inflation, foreign debts, high price of living, and unending graft and corruption. Instead of dedicating a bigger portion of our budget to civil service, it is continuously being used to pay for the Marcos reign’s excesses that did not even benefit Juan dela Cruz. When will there be justice for us? Until when will government officials use their power to amass power and money? Until when are they going to make selfish political decisions that visibly affect our economic condition? Economics being naturally intertwined with politics is undeniably a curse in the case of our country. It is an unwritten law in economy for people to work in service of themselves, unfortunately, the same phenomenon goes for politics. For as long as power-hungry politicians find their way to the seat of power, the Philippines will continue to be imprisoned with a long history of being weighed down by the institution that could have made it rise up from the dirt called poverty.