[EDITORIAL] Scared of their own ghosts

Even before Ferdinand Marcos Jr. rose to power, he was already avoiding the ghosts of his family’s past by skipping presidential debates and turning down questions relating to Martial Law.

Now with executive powers, Marcos Jr. continues to run away from the long trail of blood dripping from his surname as he enjoys toying with historical holidays.

Exactly 38 years ago, millions of Filipinos — tired of human rights violations and blatant corruption — filled Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA) to topple Marcos Sr.’s dictatorship and revive democracy.

This year, however, Marcos Jr. excluded the historic event from the list of holidays, perhaps still afraid of the very movement that overthrew his father and sent their entire family to exile in Hawaii.

When the administration immediately drew flak for its non-inclusion, Malacañang simply reasoned that Feb. 25 falls on a Sunday, claiming that there would only be “minimal socioeconomic impact” if it was included.

Such an alibi is appalling considering that the event significantly marks the country’s liberation from a very dark era and serves as a constant reminder that “power” in society belongs to the people.

And lest we forget, this is not the first time Marcos Jr. did not declare Feb. 25 as a special non-working holiday. Last year, he also abruptly moved the holiday’s observance a day early to supposedly create a long weekend “pursuant to the principle of holiday economics.”

Started by former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the holiday economics policy gives the president authority to shift the observance of select holidays closer to a Saturday or Sunday in the hopes of encouraging tourism and domestic travel.

Apparently, money is more important for Marcos Jr. than upholding the historical spirit of commemorative events. But what do we really expect from a president whose political career is fundamentally built on disinformation, revisionism and outright denialism of their shameful past?

Last September, there was also an attempt to further dilute history by removing their notorious surname when teaching about “Marcos dictatorship” under the proposed syllabus for Grade 6 students in the Matatag curriculum.

Apart from this revisionist background, Marcos Jr.’s true motive becomes far more questionable knowing that he had also shifted the observance of two other holidays: the Day of Valor and Bonifacio Day.

The trend among the events targeted by Marcos Jr. is disturbing as they not only have historical significance but also revolutionary elements. 

Marcos Jr. is taking advantage of his position to hit two birds with one stone: wipe the dirt off their surname and disrupt displays of opposition brought by his incompetence.

Progressive and multisectoral groups often stage symbolic actions on nationwide and historical holidays to amplify the long-standing calls of various communities — something the current administration has always impeded with military presence if not state harassment.

These attempts to quell the people’s voice, however, have always proved to be insignificant as seen in the large showing of people in various mobilizations, including the labor groups at last year’s Bonifacio Day and the sea of people that filled Mendiola during the 51st commemoration of the Martial Law declaration.

If anything, Marcos Jr.’s efforts to erode the value of our history have only emboldened the people to organize further, expose his tactics and collectively express dissent.

Various labor groups have also slammed holiday economics, saying it does not benefit the working class who struggle to go on holiday trips in the first place due to low wages.

In fact, some workers even receive lower earnings as a consequence of no-work, no-pay arrangements.

If the administration is really genuine in its goal to boost the economy, it should leave the nationwide holidays alone as a matter of respect and realign its priorities for the benefit of our laborers, farmers and the working class that directly feeds and serves the nation.

No amount of holiday switching could fix an economy that serves the interests of the elite few.

Instead of holiday economics, what should have been institutionalized into law is the annual commemoration of the People Power Revolution to make it less vulnerable to political subjectivities and people who want to distort history.

The government should also do away with amending the 1987 Constitution through the bogus Project People’s Initiative, which may only worsen the economy at the hands of foreign businesses and unjustly extend the terms of politicians in office.

Now more than ever, the spirit of EDSA must be regarded with utmost importance in the face of conflicting parties fighting for power and public support. 

It should be treated as an annual pledge to the Filipino people that we will never bow down to another tyrannical monster, another fascist figure and most importantly another Marcos.