MANILA – The Marcos family intends to correct what it views as historical “revisionism” in the Philippines by providing the “truth” and not just a version of what happened during the more than two decades of rule by Ferdinand Marcos that ended in 1986, the late leader’s son and namesake said Thursday.
“Many revisionisms happened since 1986. Even from 1983, they are revising history already. So of course we want to fix that,” the junior Marcos, popularly known as Bongbong, 60, told reporters in Manila.
His father has been accused of human rights abuses and of amassing illegal wealth during his rule that began in 1965.
Bongbong, a former senator, ran unsuccessfully for vice president last year and has since filed an electoral protest, seeking to prove that the counting was rigged against his favor.
His mother, former First Lady Imelda Marcos, is presently a member of congress, while daughter Imee Marcos is a provincial governor.
The late president has been called a dictator for imposing martial law in the country from 1972 up to 1981. The government at that time justified the declaration by citing the worsening insurgency problem across the country, while critics say it was meant to perpetuate Marcos’ power.
Throughout their rule, the Marcos family has allegedly plundered from state coffers up to $10 billion, of which only $4 billion has been recovered so far. The family maintains the former leader was already rich before becoming president.
The August 1983 assassination of Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, the most vocal critic of Marcos, sparked bigger mass actions that culminated in the historic People Power Revolution of February 1986 that ousted Marcos and forced him into exile. He died three years later in Hawaii.
“We will not provide a version. We will provide the truth,” Bongbong said, as he expressed hope the family will recover his father’s complete diary — some parts of which are still missing — “that will show what the situation then was to justify his decisions and actions.”
“The truth is what really happened during my father’s administration, what were his projects, what he did, how he helped the country, what his faults were and the right things he did.”
The Marcoses are themselves accused of attempting to revise history by dismissing the allegations of irregularities against them and portraying the Marcos regime as the country’s best.
Last year, critics of the family lamented over the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the remains of Marcos, which had been interred at the family-owned mausoleum in the northern province of Ilocos Norte since 1993, to be buried at the cemetery for the nation’s heroes, which happened last November.
“We are still getting used to it, but there’s a very great sense of closure,” Bongbong said when asked how the family has been nearly a year since their patriarch was laid to rest at where it really wished him to be.
He said “sporadic” talks between the family and the Duterte government are ongoing regarding their desire to settle the issue of questionable properties.
April Hope Castro, an assistant professor of history at the University of the Philippines, said that while “historical revisionism” is not necessarily evil as it simply means a reinterpretation of history with the onset of new sources and pieces of evidence, “we can’t really give a ‘true version’ of history.”
“We can only get closer to the truth by utilizing proper historical inquiry,” Castro told Kyodo News when sought for comment.
“In this case, I strongly disagree with (Bongbong Marcos) saying that they will give us the true story and not just the family’s version of the Marcos history.”
“We have to unload our personal views and opinions in writing history. But how can I be assured of that when (the Marcoses) are always on a defensive stance?” she said.
“With all these denials and defenses, history is already compromised.”
Xiao Chua, a historian who teaches at De La Salle University, said highlighting “their father’s legacy” is expected of the Marcos family and “is alright for as long as we also acknowledge as a people the narratives of those who suffered.”
“Sure, there were achievements in his administration. But these were eclipsed by the downfall of the economy, the corruption and the frivolity of their administration which resulted to EDSA 1986,” Chua noted, referring to the People Power Revolution.
He acknowledged that “a more detached view of the Marcos regime is not to be expected soon because the politics of the Marcos and the Aquino children continue to make everything emotional for everyone.”
Some historians, though, he said, “are trying their best to present history in such a way” that both narratives are acknowledged.