Jun 14, 2024

News and Views from Manila

The office of incoming President Ferdinand ” Bongbong” Marcos Jr. announced that he is thinking of attending the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly in September in New York.

Incoming President Ferdinand ” Bongbong” Marcos Jr. met with the UN Resident Coordinator to the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez on  June 10, 2022.

The announcement came after Marcos met with UN Resident Coordinator to the Philippines Gustavo Gonzalez, who said, “This UN General Assembly meeting will be the first time that the President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. will be in front of an important number of heads of state, so this is a great and, I think, a historic opportunity for the president and for the Philippines to share the new vision, the new challenges but, at the same time, the new opportunities.”

This was a day after the meeting of Marcos with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman, who told reporters afterwards that Marcos will not face arrest when he goes on an official visit to the United States, in answer to the question on whether Marcos would be allowed to enter the U.S. despite the contempt order against his family due to their non-compliance with a court order to pay victims of the martial law imposed by his father.

“This is not something that needs to be discussed. The fact is that when you’re head of state, you have immunity in all circumstances and are welcome to the United States in your official role,” Sherman said.

Marcos’ office has also announced that he will be attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Thailand in November. The 21 APEC members include the United States, China, Canada, Russia and the ASEAN countries.

Press Secretary-designate Trixie Cruz-Angeles said, “Marcos was personally invited by Thai Chargé d’ Affaires Thawat Sumitmo to the APEC Summit, in his capacity as representative of Thailand, which is the current APEC Chair.”

Since his overwhelming election win last month, Marcos Jr. and his family are on a roll. Ambassadors are lining up for a courtesy call on him.

After his virtual talks with U.S. President Joe Biden, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, and outgoing Prime Minister of Australia Scott John Morrison one after another after the elections, Marcos Jr said, “We’re already being recognized.”

“This new administration is being recognized; mukha namang wala nang problema sa (it looks like there is no problem with) recognition. Maybe the comfortable margin that we enjoy during the election has a part to play with that,” he added.

In what is considered as one of the modern world’s stunningly successful political comeback, Marcos, once a despised name, has now become a much-desired guest.  It’s as if his 31 million votes, a majority vote — a rarity in Philippine elections — has erased the issues of human rights violations, massive corruption, and tax evasion that characterized the more than 20-year Marcos regime.

Sen. Imee Marcos, the incoming president’s elder sister, goes further by painting themselves as the victims.

In an interview right after the proclamation of his brother as the winner in the May 9 presidential elections, Imee said they are very grateful for “the second chance” because “medyo mabigat ang pinagdaanan ng aming pamilya, talagang matapos ‘yong 1986 kung anu-anong kaso ang hinarap namin, bukod pa do’n sa pangungutya at pang-aapi, sabihin na natin, eh medyo hirap talaga.”

(Our family went through a lot, after 1986, we were accused with a lot of things, apart from being mocked and oppressed; it was really difficult.)

As Imee was saying that, families and friends of the victims of the Marcos regime and concerned citizens are frantically digitizing the records of the atrocities under the Marcos regime before the incoming administration, with its formidable disinformation machinery, succeeds in imposing social amnesia. The Amnesty International has documented, with the help of local civil society groups, at least 35,000 cases of torture; 70,000 incarcerations; and, 3,257 killings from this era during the Marcos regime.

As Marcos outlines in the world stage his new vision for the country, what comes to mind is Hans Christian Andersen’s story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes.”

The story is about an emperor who was talked into by two swindlers who offered to weave for him a beautiful robe, which is visible only to intelligent people and invisible to all people who are stupid.

When the garment was supposedly finished, the weaver-swindlers made the motion of putting the robe on the monarch. His courtiers, afraid that they would be exposed as stupid, gushed over the garment. The emperor also pretended he was seeing the robe he was wearing and thanked the swindlers for making a beautiful garment for him. He went out proudly to join a parade. Everybody bowed to the monarch, admiring his “beautiful clothes” until he passed by a child who exclaimed, “The emperor wears no clothes!”

Ellen Tordesillas is trustee and writer of VERA Files (verafiles.org),a group that undertakes in-depth reporting on current issues and does Fact-checking to fight disinformation. She writes opinion columns which appear in Malaya Business Insight, ABS-CBN online and VERA Files.  As a reporter, she has covered education and health and science, the PCGG  and foreign affairs beats before she was assigned to cover politics. She has covered all Philippine elections since the 1986 snap elections that triggered the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos. She continues to watch closely anything relevant to the Filipino people.

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