Why can’t we just forgive if we were Catholics?
A question was raised if the Philippines, which prides itself for being the only Catholic country in Asia (which technically speaking isn’t true anymore since South Korea and China are now following suit), cannot just move on, respect and forgive Ferdinand E. Marcos (FEM), the president who declared Martial Law spurring several human rights abuses and corruption of Imeldific proportions.
What we feel collectively is a summation of individual experiences. Consider a typical story among 324o killed, 34,000 torutured and 70,000 imprisoned. For decades now, a family still tries to figure out the location of their father’s body. This member of their family, during Marcos regime had been abducted because of perceived rebellion and was never to be found ever since. Up to this day, although they cannot be clueless on what happened to their loved one – what with all the horrible tales of tortures worse than death to people with similar fates- they are still looking for answers and justice to their presumably dead. Until this day as well, no one from the Marcoses who had full control of the military back then by virtue of Proclamation 1081 has been held accountable. Not one from their family even had the decency to say a genuine sorry.
EDSA revolution happened and somehow it helped ease the pain because the perpetrators were ousted from the highest seat in the land. The entire country and the rest of the world mourned with this family for their loss by the way of People Power. Every Feb 21 and All Soul’s Day then, they pray for their dead and cry that silent cry for this kind of abuse not to be forgotten and not to be repeated ever again.
Then came the new presidency. Few saw it coming that the change this fresh administration promised will come in ways that has been unthinkable before. True enough, it did something that’s unprecedented and as one witty celebrity puts it, comparable to the unpredictability of the majority of Game of Thrones episodes. An electoral debt had to be paid and Duterte proved to be quick at that. The Marcoses, reportedly,contributed a hefty percentage of Duterte’s campaign fund (from the mouth of the babe). Therefore, even though for so long, it has been fairly common sense not to entertain the thought of FEM being laid to rest in the ground reserved for the heroes of this country, legalities albeit without morality found its way to do otherwise. We had supreme court justices voting 9-5 in favor of the Marcoses – and should I say, in favor of the new president.
After 9 days, like a thief in broad daylight, the late dictator’s remains were buried in full military honors but without the knowledge of the unsuspecting public and the protesters who are still waiting for the result of the motion for reconsideration which could have been filed up to 15 days after the supreme court decision.
Unannounced, FEM’s remains were buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, 9 days after a supreme court ruling. Photo from http://www.philstar.com
Expect the news and the streets to be all about this most shocking turnaround of events in our recent history. Arguments are louder in social media where almost everyone can give a piece of their mind regardless of sense and sensibility or the lack thereof. Anti and pro-Marcoses are all at rage, hurling stones at one another, each having their own hits which are far less than their tons of misses. Intelligent exchange of differing opinions is still so far from the Filipino consciousness. If it were for any consolation the rest of the world stands the same. Each netizen is either hiding behind anonymity or false identity or deriving courage from being virtual safe from a most probable punch as compared to if the argument was conducted face-to-face. Social media reveals true identities- without censorship and without consequences.
Let me dedicate this blog post on answering a religion-specific attack. For the record, in any intelligent discussion, whatever irrelevant personal preference should remain untouched. This preference will ubiquitously emanate from the arguments of person indirectly and need not to be a target of any offensive attack.
So back to the questioning of how Catholics cannot move on and forgive. The victims have long forgiven but now the wounds are being made new. Had FEM continued to be laid in Batac, Ilocos Norte mausoleum underneath its wax replica, Martial Law horror would have not come back to haunt us with this intensity. Filipinos are unparalleled when it comes to moving on, believe me. Bongbong Marcos’ almost-win to the vice-presidency is a testament to this.
Martial Law victims who settled for injustices are being told to move on. They are forced to forgive without the culprits apologizing. They are doing exactly those things, being the better persons in the dire circumstances they are in. Then suddenly they will be slapped with the supreme court ruling that the dictator who started this all will now be revered as a hero. Don’t tell them FEM deserves this as a former president. He was ousted because of grave actions unbecoming of a president. He has long forfeited this title. For most of Filipinos who have nothing to be proud of but the marks their clean names made in history, label is everything. Don’t force us to regard him as what he is not. Marcos is no hero.
For once let us not abuse the meek and the victims who chose to just settle this on their own accounts alone. They had no body to bury, no answers to their questions, definitely with no closure.
Don’t tell them to just forgive because they are religious. Mercy and justice should meet as they did on the cross. As St. Thomas puts it, “Mercy without justice is the mother of dissolution. Justice without mercy is cruelty.” We must forgive. We must forget the pain, the hurt, and anger for our enemies’ and our own’s sake. You can tell that that’s the hard part of forgiving.
But you know what Christians also have to do? They have to show love by correcting the sins of their neighbors. They should call out wrong doings and never tolerate it by regarding their deeds as heroic. They should also not turn the blind eye just because they thought they benefited from sin. What shrieks me the most from all of these circus is when people scream that Marcos had done so much for the economy. Whatever good that is, clearly it is not long term. Need I remind you we are still all paying for the debt his 21 years of presidency incurred. And if it were true, so what? Never mind that he killed and tortured thousands just because he once made the Philippines “great”?! He was 21 years in service. He made use of our money for those long grueling years. At the very least, It is only expected that he was able to erect some hospitals, bridges and museums of worth!
You know what else Catholics should do aside from moving on and forgiving? They should have an opinion. It is more so (not even though) because they are Catholics and religious, that they should take a stand. They should feel this burning desire to contribute and participate on nation building. The language of silence is always the easiest to speak but it is the most dangerous as well. Yes, Jesus was someone you can call rebellious during His time and it is for good reason. Catholics should not expect to fight the good fight unscathed! To people who say that CBCP is saying a lot, well let me tell you, the general silence we’re hearing now, it is deafening.
Catholics should speak out not only when they are the ones being abused but also when their neighbors are. We should not tolerate injustices whether made to us or to other people. They should use their heads and use it really well because the devil is cunning.
It will make no use to exhume his remains. We can move forward. By moving forward, it means bringing justice to all the victims. It means retrieving all the wealth of our country that was ill-gotten by the Marcoses when they were in power up to the very last cent and the last piece of precious stones from their vast shoe collection. It’s time to make every one accountable and answerable by conducting a real investigation this time. Spare no one from the rule of law be them from Marcoses, Aquino or any political clan. Let us settle history once and for all. We deserve to know the past as our nation, who, being lost for so long may only have to know its real identity so it can move forward correctly. Lastly, let’s teach the new generations the truth. Let them not be confused by unfounded conspiracy theories that makes Wattpad really jealous.