Marcos, Macapagal, Aquino and Duterte

I was and still am a basketball fan. I love the aggressiveness of Oklahoma Thunder hotshot Russel Westbrook, the perimeter shooting of the splash brothers of Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Every basketball fan love Lebron James, Kevin Durant and Dwayne Wade. I admire most among the coaches Erik Spoelstra, not because he is a Fil-Am but he is a tactician and knows how to build a championship team.

Now let’s talk about governance. It has similarities vis-vis in assembling an athletic championship team. The best team ever assembled in governing Philippines was formed by the late strongman Ferdinand E. Marcos. He had a search committee and was able to recruit the best among the best minds. He didn’t concentrate on his picks from classmates, roommates and provincemates unlike the one whom you know who. Of course I am referring to President Duterte of Davao from the region of Mindanao. But of course appointing to key positions his own people is his prerogative.

Cesar Virata of Cavite was finance minister, Rafael Salas of Negros and Ernesto Maceda of Manila became executive secretary, Francisco ‘Kit’ Tatad of Catanduanes was press secretary, Blas F. Ople of Bulacan was labor secretary, Estelito Mendoza, Ricardo Puno and Vicente Abad Santos of Pampanga,alternately headed the justice portfolio, Carlos P. Romulo of Tarlac was foreign affairs secretary, Jose Aspiras of La Union was tourism head and Jose Rono of Samar was secretary of the local government. See how President Marcos equitably distributed governmental powers through the line departments.

Now let’s know more of Ferdinand Edralin Marcos was lawyer who graduated in the University of the Philipines in 1939 and passed the bar as a topnotcher. He was an outstanding congressman, became a senator and was the rival of then Vice President Diosdado P. Macapagal as presidential bet of the Liberal Party (LP). The two were party mates of the opposition LP. Macapagal prevailed upon Marcos to allow him first as the party’s standard bearer with a promise that he will only serve one term. ( In those years the constitution allow the president to serve one term of four years with one reelection). Macapagal was pitted against then reelectionist President Carlos P Garcia.. The ‘poor boy from Lubao’ drubbed the ‘balak beauty’ of Bohol.

Past Forward, Macapagal reneged on his promise. Marcos bolted the Liberal Party and joined the rival Nacionalista Party.

He sought the help of Eugenio Lopez, owner of media outfits like Manila Chronicle, ABS-CBN, Meralco and other business concerns. He was the kingmaker of that era. The foxy Marcos won over Macapagal. The nation was on its way to become an economic tiger and in his reelection bid he beat Sergio Osmena Jr. of Cebu for his second term.

Marcos wanted to remain in power and so he wanted to change the constitution via a constitutional convention. From a presidential form to parliamentary, and Marcos to become the prime minister. Scandal broke as news spread that some delegates were bribed. Unable to suceed in changing the constitution of his own liking, he declared martial law instead in September 21, 1972. Opposition leaders, media men and civil society group leaders were jailed.

Benigno ‘Ninoy’ Aquino, the popular senator from Tarlac who could have been president if only Marcos had not declared martial law stayed much longer than most.

His colleagues in the opposition the likes of Jose W. Diokno, Nene Pimentel, Teofisto Guingona and many leading political figures in those years were freed after months in the stockades. Ninoy was kept in isolation in the army camp of Fort Laur in Nueva Ecija with then Lt. Voltaire Gazmin as his warden. He was there for years.

Ninoy had a taste of freedom and regained his family life when he was allowed by Marcos to travel to the United States for his heart by-pass operation. He was enjoying his stay in the United States when he was told that Marcos was very sick and may die anytime. His political advisers told him that he would miss his opportunity for the presidency if Marcos will expire and he’s not in the country. So he decided to go home. (More on the next issue).