UP Diliman alumna: Duterte is not like Marcos

University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman graduate, Paulino Jose Misa, recently took to the popular social media account in order to share his sentiments and thoughts towards the ongoing issue of the public comparing President Rodrigo Duterte to former President Ferdinand Marcos.
President Rodrigo Duterte and former President Ferdinand Marcos / Photo from GMA Network

According to a lengthy essay written by Misa, he says that the two president have their similarities, but the differences must be included in the narrative as well.

He first started his post by drawing out the stories which he believes have no concrete proof nor basis, one of which is the claim before that President Corazon “Cory” Aquino was cheated during the presidential elections, and that the Constitution that was drafted and approved after the martial law was perfect.

He says that these are stories that went about that he does not believe in. It is clear that Misa does not see Marcos as a dictator, rather as someone who only wanted the best for the country but was caught up in a fight against some of the masses who were angry at some of the atrocities that happened during his presidency.

Misa says that it is this negative narrative that contributed to the tarnishing of Marcos’ name, and how Duterte was also affected of.

He admits that they do have some similarities, like the infrastructural projects that were implemented and an attempt to bring back the “golden age”. Another similarity is their utmost focus towards discipline and law and order, even in the strictest sense.

However, Misa stresses that they do have their differences, one of which, and perhaps the most striking of all, is that Duterte is trying to avoid the mistakes that Marcos made during his time. 

More than that, he says that one difference is the support of the people. He says that this is a better time because people are more conscious and are unwilling to be dominated by a narrative that only benefits the opposition.

Read his full post here:


The most remarkable thing about the past thirty years is that Cory and everyone else who followed Marcos seemed fixated on the huge treasure he supposedly looted from the country. It was like they couldn't believe how such vast sums could actually be there for the taking by those who knew how to do it.

And so, the 1987 Constitution was drawn up with the explicit aim of assuring the means by which Marcos "constitutionally" made himself a dictator could never be repeated ever.

Strangely enough, this "perfect" Constitution was actually created by a revolutionary government headed by someone who had ZERO experience in anything political or even industry or management, much less the affairs of government.
President Rodrigo Duterte and former President Ferdinand Marcos / Photo from Rappler

She nevertheless insistently CLAIMED to have been cheated in a presidential election against a seasoned, if fast fading, dictator.

The question is, what was the TRUE inspiration, motive and driving force behind the efforts of those who were “hand-picked by Cory” (meaning? Anointed by a saint?) to write the 1987 Constitution?

That “despicable” Marcos himself had probably actually been the one who dictated the contents of the “despicable” 1973 Constitution, despite a Constitutional Convention elected for the purpose, would not be far-fetched to imagine.

Thus, it had to be replaced.The fact that the duly ratified 1973 Constitution was the one under which she ran and “won” and was presumably obligated to uphold had absolutely no bearing. It was simply trashed into oblivion.

Anything conceived by Marcos just HAD to be evil. Or so went the justification.

However, as far as I recall, the fact is that NO ONE actually ever complained much about anything in the Marcos Constitution except perhaps some grumbling from those who were used to the old one. Why did it have to be so immediately and unceremoniously trashed and a RevGov proclaimed by someone who had absolutely no idea of how to run a government? Government by caprice and intuition?

Certainly, the intelligence, credentials and competence of the writers of the 1987 Constitution would be hard to question BUT as the saying also goes, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions". What more if those good intentions were to be undermined by a few with their own ulterior motives?.

But, again, as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Almost 300 years after the US Constitution was written, the US is still a world leader.

30 years later, it seems that while our 1987 Constitution indeed prevented another interminable dictatorship by the succeeding Presidents, it hardly prevented the looting of the national treasury to the disinterest for almost everything else. Rather, it actually seemed to inspire corruption by empowering even more people to do it without fear of sanction.

Infrastructure, industry and agriculture were practically abandoned despite mounting foreign debt that went God-knows-where and were viewed as an excuse for corruption rather than paths to progress. In its place, export of labor to foreign lands became practically the only means for the masses to a better life. This was quite convenient for the oligarchy which then sucked up all that money coming in for the recipients to spend on.

Indeed, why kill yourself gambling in industry and manufacturing and agriculture when you can make an easy living simply providing finished goods and services to the people?

It was like each succeeding administration became more and more adept and the looters more and more entrenched, gathering a momentum that culminated in the almost unquantifiable and practically unaccountable plunder of the Aquino administration. There would probably not be enough courts, investigators and prosecutors to even make a dent.

It was like rather than learn the lessons of history in order to move the country forward, all everyone became interested in was how to outdo Marcos in terms of staying in power and accumulating wealth beyond imagination.

Even as he was made out to be the vilest plunderer, the reality was that Marcos actually became the standard that they secretly measured themselves by and endeavored to eclipse.

If he was smart, they were smarter. If he had managed to do it with impunity, then surely they could do better.

But as yet the old adages go, “You can’t fool all of the people all of the time” and “All good (?) things must come to an end”.

Despite pulling out all the stops and to their utter dismay, Duterte became President. Who was this pretender who, because he simply admired Marcos, surely thought he could do even better than they could at plunder?

How could a perfectly oiled machine, meticulously built up for 30 years and primed to shift into high gear be suddenly disabled by just one man fueled by nothing but guts and determination? Oh, and that inconsequential and immaterial thing called the people’s will?

And unlike Cory, who was totally at the mercy of her handlers, this one was at least as competent as Marcos and much more experienced to boot.

And so, their greatest nightmare, another Marcos, came around to haunt them.

And it is true. For all intents and purposes, Duterte certainly seems like a Marcos clone.

But without the hubris and excess baggage and with the more weathered wisdom of a victorious general of countless battles.

And yet, while there may be some striking similarities between them, there are also important and defining differences.

Marcos was after all, the youngest Philippine President. Duterte is the oldest. All things being equal and assuming neither was afflicted with a debilitating illness, an additional two decades of survival taming tumultus surroundings would afford one a much better perspective on most things.

Marcos was elected with the full backing of his party and the money of the elite in the person of his VP, Fernando Lopez. Thus, he had many political debts to consider. While he had considerable support among the people, it was nowhere near the overwhelming backing Duterte has maintained from the general public.

In stark contrast, Duterte won practically single-handedly with a minimum of resources and the help of a only few friends who appreciated his achievements more than what favors he might possibly grant them.

Marcos, just like any other man in the prime of his life, had many great plans and foresight but he was also driven by personal ambition, yet unseasoned by time, affected by hubris and, particularly when affected by illness in the later years of his rule, subject to the machinations and intrigues of the people around him, the US, as well as the oligarchs he had offended.

But he was a man of his time and did the best he could do to the limits of his abilities. He must be judged by history not solely by his mistakes but also by the great many things he did right.

When he assumed the Presidency, Duterte had almost 20 years more experience than Marcos. He spent over 20 years single-handedly battling intractable foes while successfully building a modern progressive city practically from scratch.

A man who has lived simply for 72 years will not suddenly become a rapacious plunderer nearing the twilight of his years. Rather, he will tend to intractably live as he has always lived, do as he has always done and will meticulously strive to learn from and avoid the mistakes of the past, both his own and those committed by others.

And this is the crux of the difference between the Opposition’s imagined narrative and the reality of the Duterte administration’s narrative.

The opposition tirelessly accuses and speculates that Duterte MUST be guilty of ALL the bad things they have condemned Marcos for but which they have in reality merely refined and found more sophisticated ways to perfect. Because they have unanimously been guilty of mostly the same misdeeds, in many ways to an even greater degree, they can hardly imagine that anyone would not do otherwise.

That someone could so unexpectedly usurp what they have come to consider their birthright is the actual root of why they so passionately hate Duterte.

And that is why they show not the slightest hint of guilt or remorse or sense of accountability for the corruption and chaos they have caused and continue to pursue. It is for them, simply a question of regaining their “birthright”.

In a way, this is practically a replay of the battle between Oliver Cromwell and the monarchy/nobility in England hundreds of years ago.

But yes, Duterte seems to be attempting to emulate the achievements of the “golden age” of Marcos half a century ago. A time when Marcos built countless roads, bridges, schools, power plants and other vital infrastructures. A time when he attempted to put the country on the road to industrialization by building steel mills and a local automotive industry. A time when agriculture was given importance and the IRRI and Masagana 99 made us the leaders in rice research and development.

However, in the same manner as he is committed to follow the good things Marcos has done, so too does he seem to be determined to avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that ultimately tarnished the Marcos legacy.

Yes, like Marcos, Duterte is also determined to restore law and order and the rule of law in a country that was on the verge of anarchy. But, in contrast to the rather heavy-handed discipline imposed by Marcos, his Martial Law only inspires fear in the hearts of the enemies of the State even as it affords peace of mind and confidence in the law-abiding.

Unlike any other President before him, aside from guidance in what must be done, he has refused to get directly involved in the planning, approval and implementation of major projects, leaving the responsibility to the Cabinet secretaries involved. This novel procedure enables unprecedented accountability and eliminates undue interference, influence-peddling and opportunities and temptations for corruption emanating from the Office of the President.

His war on drugs is not a cosmetic effort to mask a takeover of the illegal drug industry from its former protectors but a genuine struggle to deal with the very real threat posed by an extraordinarily pernicious drug.

The violence that it entails is in fact not a measure of the brutality of the administration but rather simply a byproduct of the violence the drug itself causes. In stark contrast, there have never been any drug busts associated with marijuana, past or present, and in the course of the current war on drugs.

Rather, the unremitting hostility of the opposition to the drug war despite an 80% approval of the general public gives rise to rather well-founded suspicions that they are angry at the government interference in an illegal industry they may well have a considerable stake in. There can hardly be any other conclusion given the much greater importance they seem to give to the rights of the criminals vis-a-vis the rights of the victims.

And yet, unlike Marcos, he has not engaged in mass arrests, has not allowed either the military or the PNP to run ragged over the rights of the people and even the opposition and the enemies of the State. He has not silenced either the press or the opposition in stark contrast to their hysterical claims which, in the first place, they could never had made if this was in any way true.

Perhaps most remarkably, despite persistent demands from the general public, he has firmly resisted doing what both Cory and Marcos did: trashing what is probably an even more defective Constitution than its 2 predecessors in spite of the glaring anomalies in it which have ultimately been at the root of many of the intractable problems he faces.

In this regard, history will be the sole judge of the wisdom of whatever he eventually decides to do or not do.

So yes, he is much like Marcos but in the beneficial ways that Marcos served the nation.

But then again, in stark contrast to his predecessors, he has striven to learn from history how to avoid and correct the mistakes and failings of Marcos rather than repeat or institutionalize them.

Because after all, he is not Marcos, He is Duterte."

UP Diliman alumna: Duterte is not like Marcos  UP Diliman alumna: Duterte is not like Marcos Reviewed by Nathan Singson on March 02, 2019 Rating: 5

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