The Son Also Rises!

MANILA: The Philippines this week is celebrating the restoration of democracy some 30 years after Martial Law, but many "who suffered through the Marcos dictatorship tremble with anger at slow justice and the stunning political ascent of the late strongman's heir," says Joel Guinto (23 February 2016,

On one hand, members of SELDA, the association of former detainees during Ferdinand Marcos' Martial Law years, have vowed "to stop the return to Malacañang of Ferdinand Marcos Jr, whose father turned the country into a dictatorship until his ouster in 1986," says Guinto.

On the other hand, veteran "Investigative journalist and award-winning political blogger Raissa Robles has a new book that tackles the atrocities committed by the Marcos regime," says ANN (author not named, 23 February 2016,

The SELDA campaign and Raissa's work both want the same result, as the title of Raissa's book puts it bluntly: Marcos Martial Law: Never Again. As an editor, I expected an interjection after Again but there was none. Again, again? The writer and the editor in me would have agreed on Again! But to each his own. And that happens to be the message of my essay

What SELDA and Raissa are commonly trying to say, if I may put it in my own words, is this:

We must stop the Marcoses from going back to Malacañang because we know they will declare Martial Law again, and look what happened the first time!

Did you notice? This is a biblical scene; the sins of the father are visited on the children, and rightly so, says Exodus 20:5 (NRSV):

You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me.

Any objections to the implementation of this law?

However, there is another rule on the iniquities of forebears. The sins of the father are visited on the children, and wrongly so, says Deuteronomy 24:16 (NRSV):

Parents shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their parents; only for their own crimes may persons be put to death.

These are all in the Old Testament. What's the matter, the Bible is contradicting itself early on?

Actually no. Exodus is the Law of God, while Deuteronomy is the Law of Man. In a global context, the sins of our fathers visit on all of us; the Original Sin is inherited by all. In a local context, my father's iniquities will be visited on me but I will not be punished by the law of the land for his crimes. Fair is fair.

The victims of Martial Law must be given justice; they must also practice justice and not punish the son for any proven crime of the father. If they abhor atrocity, they should not visit it on anyone.

SELDA is complaining that they have yet to receive justice. Why blame Bongbong Marcos? Why not blame many a President after Ferdinand E Marcos? Slow justice: Cory Aquino, Fidel Ramos, Joseph Estrada, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, Noynoy Aquino...

Under Martial Law, what cannot be denied are the abnormalities. But let us not also deny the authenticities.

Such as in Science. The other day came out on Facebook the post of Bong Banal that said, in big, bold letters: Nung panahon ni Marcos, mas maganda ang buhay – ni Marcos!!! (The last 2 words were in red.) In the time of Marcos, life was more beautiful – for Marcos!!!

And I wrote as comment: "Maganda rin ang buhay ng mga scientists. Ask Emil Q Javier, former Chancellor of UP Los Baños and former President of UP." The life of scientists was beautiful too.

During the Martial Law years, Marcos created so many science agencies that he deserves the title of Father of Modern Philippine Science. It was he who created the following (the ones I happen to know about a little bit):

(1)   1972. Philippine Council for Agricultural Research, now Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic & Natural Resources Research and Development, or PCAARRD. The Council was and still is the national coordinator of scientific studies in the broad area of agriculture and related fields. Right away, the Council proved its worth in coordination: It stopped the unknown or unnoticed practice of duplicate research and saved the country millions of pesos in science money. PCAARRD was so successful other Asian countries copied it.

(2)   1972. University of the Philippines Los Baños. Marcos elevated the UP College of Agriculture (UPCA) into the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UP Los Baños, or UPLB). By elevating it, Marcos transformed the Cow College into a prestigious institution. UP Los Baños was and still is the premier university of agriculture in the country. In fact, UP Los Baños can stand on its own, outside the UP System. In the last 100 years, UP Los Baños has been the source of agri science in the country.

(3)   1975. Forest Research Institute (FORI). The work is science applied to forest conservation.  I cannot forget this because this is where I was admitted as information officer soon after Marcos created FORI in 1975. The scientists did their job and I did mine. I founded the quarterly technical journal Sylvatrop, became its Editor in Chief, and published research reports. I also founded and became Editor in Chief of FORI's Canopy, a monthly. Together, these 2 publications made FORI well-known nationally and internationally. Who rose to become the Chief Information Officer at that time? That was me. (FORI is now the Ecosystem Research & Development Bureau.)

(4)   1977. Philippine Tobacco Research & Training Center (PTRTC). Tobacco is bread and butter to many Ilocanos but at that time the growing, processing and marketing of tobacco were all neglected by government. The work of PTRTC improved at once the production and processing of tobacco to a noticeable commercial degree.

(5)   1979. National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (Biotech). This agency is attached to UP Los Baños and based in that campus. It is the national research body for agricultural, environmental, food and feeds, and health biotechnology. Message: Your GMO cannot be better than ours.

I daresay Philippine science is better than any of the Asean countries, with no small thanks to the genuine Ilocano Ferdinand Edralin Marcos, the one whom Filipinos (mostly Tagalogs) love to hate.

And before I forget, "the stunning political ascent of the late strongman's heir" is because Bongbong is a good son of his father – a good governor of his province and a good Senator of his country.  On his own, the son also rises!

We cannot deny the bad things that happened during Martial Law. We also cannot deny the good things that happened. Such as in science.

On Facebook, I'm reading right now the quote from the editorial of Malaya, 22 February 2016: "EDSA People Power (was) not a genuine Filipino revolution. It (was) just the downfall of one powerful family and the rise of another, the Aquinos."

I beg your pardon. I say it was a genuine Filipino revolution. We continue to have millions of the poor and the number is increasing. The gods did not fail us; we failed ourselves.

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