After more than twenty-five years after the first People Power uprising that sent Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies into exile, the pursuit of justice has ended with the full restoration of the families of the former dictator and his allies.
The aging solon and former street parliamentarian Sen Joker Arroyo was like a lonely voice crying out in the wilderness upon hearing the flacid “lukewarm” remarks of President Aquino in reaction to the Supreme Court ruling favoring his formerly estranged uncle over the government in the case involving about twenty billion pesos (nearly half a billion dollars) worth of shares in San Miguel Corporation one of the country’s biggest conglomerates that he purchased during the dictatorial regime under dubious circumstances.
As often is the case when dealing with ill-gotten wealth of crooks in government who operate in a lawyerly fashion, the labyrinth of transactions make it difficult to pin down the accused. Hiding as they do behind the corporate veil, their ability to weave through the legal system in order to extract wealth from the collective pot contributed by the lowliest in society allows them to go unpunished and even be vindicated by the legal system.
And so as in the case of Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco, Jr. former czar of the coconut industry under Mr Marcos, it appears that the scales of justice have finally tipped in his favor. Having previously lost his case in the anti-graft court the Sandiganbayan, he has won on appeal to the Supreme Court. Not all justices voted to clear him though. The senior ranking dissenter pronounced the majority decision the biggest joke of the century to be visited upon our countrymen.
Indeed. And as for the Marcoses their restoration was cemented in the last election with Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. winning a seat in the upper house from where he probably intends to stage a presidential bid in 2016. A hero’s burial for his father’s remains has been winning support in the lower house. This probably reflects the mood in the wider body politic to forgive the former dictator for his failings. President Aquino himself put this possibility on the agenda by commissioning the vice president to look into it.
During his election campaign, President Aquino said that he wanted to bring some final resolution to the remains of the EDSA I struggle. It appears now what that closure he spoke of means for the victims of the Martial Law and the perpetrators of the injustices under it. Incidentally, it will be interesting to see how the case of Hacienda Luisita Incorporated owned and run by the Aquino-Cojuangco clans but subjected to agrarian reform will be handled by this Supreme Court. Will the final ruling there bring about “closure” to that case as it has in this instance? Would that be the final form of appeasement between the rivaling factions that have governed our country for so long (and will continue to in the foreseeable future)?
For those who joined the struggle to restore democracy to the nation like Sen Joker Arroyo, it will grate them to see the very liberties and freedoms they fought and paid for with their blood, sweat and tears being adroitly used by those who formerly suppressed them to frustrate the cause of those who suffered under their foul treatment, to have history re-written, to find the same legal minds that defended their tormentors receiving honor and prestige, occupying positions of power and authority, and for their countrymen to look on indifferently.
Unfortunately, this is probably how the cause of freedom will end: not with a bang, but a whimper.