Basagan ng Trip with Leloy Claudio: A history of the Marcos Restoration

Southeast Asian studies professor Leloy Claudio talks to @mlq3 on key events that led the Marcoses back to power. Watch this new episode of #BasaganNgTrip.
.@mlq3 says the story of the Marcos restoration started in 1992: The first and most significant [event] was that Imelda Marcos ran for president and so did Danding Cojuangco.
.@mlq3: If the two of them had combined their votes, they would have achieved 28% which would have been enough to have won the presidency six years after the EDSA revolution.
Claudio cites a study saying that even during Cory Aquino’s administration, Filipinos wanted ‘unity.’ According to the study from Ateneo-Social Weather Stations, 69% of Filipinos wanted Aquino to reach out to Marcos loyalists.
.@mlq3: We have to go back to the snap elections. We often overlook the fact that the election itself…was a close election. And that therefore, the status quo as of 1986 was a…divided nation.
.@mlq3: What EDSA did was thoroughly upset the balance of forces, which were in a sense, tied.
.@mlq3 says that while the elections exposed how “clumsy” the Marcoses were about the cheating, “it still left the Marcoses knowing that they still have a strong base of support.”
Claudio raises the perception during 1992 and onwards that pro-Marcos ideas are already “fringe ideas.” With the Aquino phenomenon at that time, Claudio says these ideas were “not enough to dent the national narrative.”
.@mlq3 says the public should have to look at the dynamics that make a restoration possible: As the regime that replaced it faces its own crises, what was formerly unthinkable starts becoming possible.
.@mlq3: What was created after EDSA was a democracy that may have been very close to what would have been achieved in 1972 if Martial Law hadn’t happened. It was a democracy that had gatekeepers.
.@mlq3: These gatekeepers were fundamentally the Catholic Church, which could grant or remove the mandate of heaven. It was the military which would decide to prop up a gov’t or stand by and let it fall.
.@mlq3: And civil society, media, the symbolic figures like the Aquinos who could also grant legitimacy or take it away from the government.
.@mlq3: Whatever the case, each of the gatekeepers fell and were not able to have the effect they had in the past.
.@mlq3: At the same time, the logical conclusion started becoming, as one by one each of these gatekeepers fell by the wayside, the whole question of the legitimacy of who represented the “malasakit” aspect shifted.
.@mlq3: The Marcoses were able to invest money, resources, and strategizing into the things that would flip the balance [such as] social media, which no one could have foreseen even 10 years ago.
.@mlq3 and Claudio talk about how Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who became president as a result of EDSA 3, eventually developed disillusionment with EDSA.
When Cory Aquino called for the resignation of GMA over the Hello Garci scandal, @mlq3 says “the pieces were supposed to fall in place.” But “the military and the Church chickened out, leaving [Aquino] exposed.”
Claudio points out that this coalition based on the streets “was electorally rejuvenated in 2010 with the election of Noynoy Aquino.”
.@mlq3: The fundamental lesson of EDSA 3 was to close down the streets as an option moving forward. Because when the middle class…saw that they are far outnumbered by the poor, this was not an option that could be opened anymore.
.@mlq3: The lesson they took away from 2010 was, “if we do not get ourselves together then the pendulum will swing back and we will be back to square one.”
.@mlq3: It was Arroyo who figured out “we better go shopping for a candidate who will change the whole frame of reference of elections.”
.@mlq3 says former president Rodrigo Duterte changed the “frame of reference” of Philippine democracy through his focus on criminality and drugs, along with his use of the middle class’ “impatience with reforms” and public dissatisfaction with the late Noynoy Aquino in 2016.
.@mlq3: The pandemic led to such a shock to the system. And for all its weaknesses, the only institution that was able to deliver was the government.
.@mlq3: The rule under the post-EDSA republic is very different from all the governments that came before. It was never about achieving a majority, it was always about a plurality only slightly larger than the next guy.
.@mlq3: What the Marcoses had was a very old-fashioned combination na binuo ni Ferdinand Marcos, which is Ilocano plus Waray.
.@mlq3: You look at 2016, malakas si Ferdinand Marcos Jr. sa Luzon and the Waray areas. But it’s still not enough to win the country because nandoon pa rin ang Cebu, mga Ilonggo areas, Mindanao, and Bicol.
.@mlq3: None of these areas are traditionally pro-Marcos because nasaktan sila noong Martial Law…. Ngayon, ang mga Duterte hawak nila ang Mindanao. But we forget that they are ethnic Cebuanos.
.@mlq3: The only two families who produced two mayors of Cebu City are the Osmeñas and the Dutertes.
.@mlq3: says former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was thinking like “an old-time pre-Martial Law presidential candidate” in the brokering of the coalition between Dutertes and Marcoses.
.@mlq3 on Arroyo: She can speak to the Dutertes and the Marcoses on a couple of levels: to Bongbong and Sara as the child of a president. She can speak to Dutertes and to everyone else, which is, as former president.
.@mlq3 says Arroyo has “an institutional memory to get the [political] factions together and remind them what’s at stake.”
.@mlq3 echoes a thought that “the Filipinos’ idea of a president is someone who can decide things for them.
.@mlq3 says the media focused on the violent side of the Duterte administration, but for most of the public, Duterte has come “to incarnate and monopolize the idea of caring which was something that the Aquinos had for generations.”
.@mlq3: If we were let down by the middle yellow discourse for 30 years, then everything we thought was bad must be good…. This is the heart of any restoration. The Marcoses have this karmic rebirth. And at the same time, it borrowed charisma from Sara [Duterte].
.@mlq3: The logical conclusion for the Marcoses is that there has to be a Sixth Republic. There has to be a new republic that puts an end to this existing republic and enshrines their vision of the Philippines. This is not necessarily one shared by the Dutertes.
.@mlq3: One of the reasons we are where we are with the Marcos restoration was imposibleng amendyahan ang Constitution because of the defective way it was written…. A system that cannot revise itself is a dead system.
.@mlq3: The irony is that the same thing that destroyed the Aquinos may be the same thing that [destroys] the Marcoses [once more].
.@mlq3: The window of opportunity for a president to accomplish anything major is probably in the first half of the term. By the midterm they will be judged, they will be weakened or emboldened.
.@mlq3: Marcos has to redo the whole system within the next 3 years. In that way he can knock out the Dutertes, stand on his own, and most of all, create a new system that they can either continue to dominate or will leave them all safe. The present system will not do that.

Manuel L. Quezon III.

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