By Louis “Barok” Biraogo
For today’s column, I need to discuss regarding the recent online interview of ex-Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. by famous vlogger and media personality Toni Gonzaga about a week ago.
As far as I am concerned, that interview, which went viral, is a tell-tale interview.
The first thing I noticed was the way Marcos Jr. behaved during the interview. He did not say anything bad or derogatory against anybody, not even against those who have been saying bad things about him and the rest of the Marcos family. The ex-senator also praised the Filipino people, despite the February 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution that toppled his father, the late President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., from power.
Another thing I noticed was his understandable admiration for his father who, notwithstanding his accomplishments as president, remains the most controversial of all Philippine leaders.
What I found interesting was Marcos Jr.’s answers to Gonzaga’s questions about alleged wrongdoings attributed to his father by anti-Marcos groups.
“Lies,” Marcos Jr. said, stressing that the historical record has proved that those accusations have not been proved. As a politician, Marcos Jr. said that his father had his share of enemies and detractors, and it is impossible for any president to please everybody.
Using various social media platforms, anti-Marcos netizens, allies of the late Presidents Corazon Aquino and Noynoy Aquino, and supporters of the infamous, pro-Aquino Liberal Party, commonly referred to as the the so-called “yellow army” (dilawan in the vernacular), denounced Marcos and Gonzaga.
Their common complaint is that Gonzaga should not have interviewed Marcos Jr. in view of the supposed abuses of the martial law regime of his father. They also slammed Gonzaga and said she should have interviewed somebody else.
A number of them insisted that Marcos Jr. has no basis for calling the accusations against his father “lies.”
Others insinuated that Gonzaga is “biased” for interviewing Marcos Jr., inasmuch as the latter is Gonzaga’s wedding sponsor.
All those who bashed Marcos Jr. and Gonzaga were in for an unpleasant surprise.
Scores of other netizens, as well as numerous political and media personalities, went out of their way to defend Marcos Jr. and Gonzaga.
Broadcast journalist Erwin Tulfo said the yellow army has no business telling Gonzaga whom she can and cannot interview in her online program.
One particular netizen called the yellow army’s meddling ironic. She pointed out that although the dilawan gang claims to support freedom of speech, they are unable to tolerate any statement or program which puts anyone in the Marcos family in good light, or which reveals the positive side of the Marcos martial law regime.
All in all, it was obvious to many netizens that the yellow army is filled with hypocrites who believe that freedom of speech belongs only to those who are anti-Marcos.
The yellow army pushed its weight around when Noynoy Aquino was president. Now, it is out of power, and yet it wants to restrict freedom of speech in the country. It’s dreadful to imagine what abuses the yellow army will commit again once their surrogate Liberal Party ever seizes power again.
From the perspective of the nation’s sovereignty, whether or not Marcos Jr. is correct when he said that the accusations against his late father are “lies” is beside the point.
The Constitution states that sovereignty resides in the people and all government authority emanates from them. Sovereignty, in turn, is exercised by the people through the ballot.
Through the ballot, the Filipino electorate has been electing members of the Marcos family to high national office for the past decade.
In 2019, the Filipino people elected Imee Marcos, President Marcos’ daughter, to the Senate. Also in 2019, the Filipino electorate soundly rejected the re-electionist Senator Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino, a first cousin of Noynoy Aquino, whose only legislative accomplishment was to imitate how his late uncle, ex-Senator Ninoy Aquino, looked in the 1970s. In fact, all eight senatorial candidates supported by the yellow army’s Liberal Party lost miserably in that election. The LP was so unpopular, it couldn’t even field a full slate of 12 candidates.
Earlier in 2010, the electorate voted Marcos Jr. to the Senate. Marcos Jr. almost won the vice presidential election in 2016. He was short of just 200,000 votes from the purported winner, Leni Robredo.
From the foregoing indications, the sovereign Filipino people of present times are sympathetic with the Marcoses. That also means the yellow army is obsolete and politically irrelevant.
Turning UP campuses into communist havens
The House bill will have this effect. The Senate should do its part.
The House of Representatives of Congress wants to make all campuses of the University of the Philippines havens for communists and their sympathizers, and to keep UP the recruitment center that it is for the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army and the National Democratic Front.
Former UP Executive Vice President Teodoro Herbosa said so in an online story carried by the Philippine News Agency last Tuesday afternoon.
Herbosa disclosed that the House recently approved House Bill No. 10171 which proposes to amend Republic Act No. 9500, or the New UP Charter. It purports to protect the academic freedom of UP.
More specifically, House Bill No. 10171 bans state police and military personnel from entering any UP campus without the prior permission of the campus authorities, except in cases of “hot pursuit” or similar emergencies.
Herbosa said House Bill No. 10171 is unnecessary because the academic freedom of UP is already expressly guaranteed under its charter.
Further, Herbosa said the bill reinstates the so-called 1989 accord between UP and the Department of National Defense. That accord provided that policemen and soldiers must first get the permission of UP officials before they can enter any UP campus, even for law enforcement purposes.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana withdrew the DND from the accord last January 21. Lorenzana said the accord transformed UP into, among others, a recruitment center for the communist movement.
Herbosa shares Lorenzana’s assessment, and confirms that when the accord was in force, the residential areas of the UP campuses in Diliman and Los Baños became clandestine havens for gambling, narcotics and communist cadres.
I agree with Herbosa and Lorenzana. If House Bill No. 10171 becomes a law, the UP campuses throughout the country will continue to be recruitment centers for local communists.
As Lorenzana once succinctly put it, what is so special about UP that law enforcers need the prior permission of UP officials in order to enforce the law inside its campuses?
Nobody, not even UP, is above the law. Come hell or high water, Philippine laws must be enforced throughout the territorial jurisdiction of the Philippines, with or without the prior permission of criminals, terrorists, communists, fugitives, or anyone who wittingly or unwittingly harbors them.
UP campuses are public places. Like any public place, a UP campus should have visible police presence in order to discourage criminals, terrorists and their kind from committing unlawful acts there.
Parents who send their children to study at UP have the right to expect that their children will be safe from criminals and terrorists while they are at UP. One step in that direction is to keep police presence in the UP campuses visible. The absence of uniformed policemen in any public place is a tempting invitation for criminals and terrorists to operate there.
There are, of course, security guards inside each UP campus. However, because these security guards are fielded by private security agencies, they do not have the same law enforcement powers vested by law in actual police officers. Unlike policemen who are responsible to the public in general, private security guards are primarily loyal to their agencies.
Private security guards in UP are not employees of UP. They are employees of their security agencies. Obviously, they are not public officers. Precisely for that reason, private security guards cannot be held liable under the strict laws applicable only to state law enforcers. Unlike policemen and soldiers, private security guards cannot be held to account before the Ombudsman.
In other words, don’t expect quality public service from private security guards because they are not public servants in the first place.
Despite the abrogation of the 1989 accord, policemen cannot enter UP offices, college buildings, classrooms, libraries and dormitories unless they are called in. They cannot enter homes inside the campus without a judicial warrant. Like any other public place, police presence in UP is confined only to public areas like roads, parking lots and the like. As such, I do not see how the lawful presence of law enforcers inside a UP campus can actually compromise the academic freedom of UP.
To repeat, parents send their children to UP to graduate and become successful adults. No right-thinking parent will send his child to UP just to end up recruited by the communists, and to take up arms and die fighting government troops in the countryside.
House Bill No. 10171 should be rejected outright by the Senate. If it manages to pass the Senate, President Rodrigo Duterte should veto it.
Should it lapse into law, it should be challenged before the Supreme Court by parents who do not want their children to enter UP just to die for CPP chief Jose Ma. Sison’s useless war to make the Philippines a communist state.
Louis Biraogo is a lawyer and a columnist of Manila Standard’s “Citizen Barok”. He has established a reputation for invoking citizen action to protect the public interest and actual filing of cases in the judiciary, the most prominent of which assailed the constitutionality of President Noynoy Aquino Executive Order No.1, creating the Philippine Truth Commission, 1 asserting it threatens the independence of the Office of the Ombudsman, and violates the principle of equal protection. He now works under the Presidential Adviser on Political Affairs.