'Hindi ako ang nakaraan' slogan, the shallowest excuse: Osmena
MANILA (UPDATED) - If Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr wins the vice-presidential race in 2016, the Philippines will become the laughingstock of the world, a fellow senator said Thursday.
Sen. Sergio Osmena III, grandson of the late Commonwealth President Sergio Osmena, was incarcerated for five years during the martial rule of Marcos' father, the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos. He escaped from a maximum security prison cell in Fort Bonifacio in 1977, along with ABS-CBN's Eugenio Lopez Jr.
In an interview on ANC's Headstart, Osmena said he is reminded of the late Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew's description of the Marcos family in his book "From Third World to First."
"He begins his part on the Philippines this way. 'Now the Philippines is a completely different story. Nowhere in the world do you see the family of a dictator being allowed back into the country and running for public office.' Even Lee Kuan Yew couldn't understand it, so somebody as dumb as me can't understand it either," he said.
Asked what would be the effect of a Marcos being elected vice-president, Osmena said: "We will be the laughingstock of the world. I think so."
In his book, Lee described the late President Marcos as "the undisputed boss of all Filipinos."
"Imelda, his wife, had a penchant for luxury and opulence. When they visited Singapore before the Bali summit, they came in style in two DC8’s, his and hers," Lee wrote.
He also described the Filipino people as having "a soft, forgiving culture."
"Only in the Philippines could a leader like Ferdinand Marcos, who pillaged his country for over 20 years, still be considered for a national burial. Insignificant amounts of the loot have been recovered, yet his wife and children were allowed to return and engage in politics," Lee wrote.
OSMENA POSITION NO SURPRISE
For his part, Marcos said he understands where Osmena is coming from, noting that Osmena's father - Sergio Osmena Jr. of the Liberal Party - lost to the older Marcos during the 1969 presidential election.
"Talagang opposition siya nung panahon ng aking ama. The old man Osmena was the opposing candidate nung 1969 nung na re-elect ang aking ama. Siguro sa lahat ng nakaraan, talagang magiging maliwanag na Senator Serge ganun ang kanyang position. Hindi ako nagugulat sa kanyang mga sinabi," he said in a separate radio DZMM interview.
"In fairness to him, kapag nasa Senado kami at mayroon kailangang pag-usapan, mahusay naman ang aming usapan. So ideologically hindi kami magkasabay pero pagkatrabaho na okay naman kami," he said.
Life under Marcos: A fact-check
The Marcos family has long been dogged by accusations the dictator oversaw massive human rights abuses and plundered billions of dollars from state coffers until a famous "people power" revolt toppled him from power in 1986.
But after the Marcos patriarch died in exile in Hawaii in 1989, the family returned to the country in 1991 and began a successful political comeback, culminating in Bongbong Marcos getting elected to the Senate in 2010.
THE SHALLOWEST EXCUSE
In the interview, Osmena castigated Marcos' series of campaign ads that focused on the theme "Hindi ako ang aking nakaraan (I am not my past)."
The campaign emphasizes Marcos' previous message that Filipinos should "move on" from the past.
READ: Marcos wants Aquino to 'move on'
"That is the shallowest excuse. If we were in Germany and a son of [Adolf] Hitler came back, I don't think that he'd be able to use the phrase 'moving on.' In other words, sasabihin ng tao 'Tumahimik ka na lang.' Maski wala kang direct kasalanan, tumahimik ka na lang sapagkat this reminder of your father's pre-war and wartime activities is not going to sit well with our nation and our people," Osmena said.
"They are going to say that. The son of Stalin or the son of Mao Tse-Tung will probably face the same situation. Again, like Lee Kuan Yew wrote, the Filipinos are a very forgiving people. I guess that is the best way to explain that."
Marcos, however, said there is a big difference between the genocide of Jews in Nazi Germany and the human rights violations during martial law. He explained that unlike the Final Solution of Adolf Hitler or the atrocities committed by Imperialist Japan, it was never the policy of his father to commit human rights violations.
''The examples you gave, these are government officials apologizing for state policies. The things that my father is being accused of, wala namang state policy na ganoon. If people were hurt, that was never the intention. If there were people who were left behind, that was not the intention. For example, the killing of the Jews was precisely the intention. Of course they should apologize for that. That's the difference with what we're talking about," he said in a DZMM interview.
In the interview, Marcos acknowledged that human rights violations were indeed committed during his father's time by abusive soldiers.
He noted that during his father's time, the Philippine government was fighting a war on two fronts - the secessionist movement in the south and the communist uprising in the countryside.
Asked about the reported torture of activists and political enemies during martial law, he said: "Yung mga nangyayari sa gera, yun ang nangyari. Kung hindi tayo ginera, hindi sana nangyari yun."
Marcos was also asked if he is willing to apologize on behalf of his father and family. He replied: ''Wala sa kamay ko na magbigay ng closure na sinasabi ko. It is not within my power, it is not within my means to do that.
Bongbong on Marcos era: What am I to say sorry for?
He also defended his campaign ads, noting that the Filipino people should "move on from the past" so that the country can move forward.
"Tayong lahat, kahit nahirapan tayo sa nakaraan, kahit tayo ay minalas sa nakaraan, huwag nating pababayaan na hanggang doon na lang tayo. Ipagpatuloy pa rin natin ang pagsisikap," Marcos explained.
Asked if the ad is meant to tell people to forget martial law atrocities, he said: "Not specifically."
"Ang sinasabi ko, lahat ng tao may pinagdaanan na kahirapan. May kasabihan nga: 'Into every life a little rain must fall.' Pero huwag nating pababayaan na yun na ang, hanggang doon na lang tayo," he said.
In his interview, Osmena said he has no plan to campaign against Marcos, saying that he is very civil with the latter in the Senate.
He said that with only 24 senators in the Upper Chamber, "you can't have cold wars going on."
"We talk if we have to talk. There's been no problem."
He also confirmed that he is backing the vice-presidential bid of Liberal Party bet Leni Robredo but noted he does not know if the latter can beat Marcos.
"The elections are always a dynamic process...I’ve never seen so many candidates for vice-president and these are all political heavyweights," he said. Aside from Marcos and Robredo, the other vice-presidential candidates include Senators Gregorio Honasan, Alan Peter Cayetano, Francis Escudero and Sonny Trillanes.
MAR ROXAS' GROUP 'INCOMPETENT'
In the same ANC interview, Osmena confirmed that his son is marrying the niece of Liberal Party presidential candidate Mar Roxas. He said his family and the Araneta clan are old friends.
However, he also said that he is not backing Roxas' bid because he does not agree with the way the Liberal Party has been conducting itself.
"The incompetence, that's what they are. And they persist in being incompetent. The [Department of Transportation and Communications] has been one of the most awful performing departments, starting with Terminal 1 and the [Manila] port problem that we had, the traffic, MRT...It's endless. It took me three months to get my driver's license. Can you imagine? Something as simple as a plastic card. And then I have friends applying for a firearms license, wala ring plastic.
"I would say Mar Roxas' group has proven itself to be incompetent. I think the Filipino people deserve better."
Instead of Roxas, Osmena said he is leaning towards backing Davao City Mayor and presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte because he has a track record of getting things done.
Osmena, a martial law victim, defended Duterte from allegations that he is a human rights abuser. He said the mayor "has a tendency to exaggerate."
"Nagyayabang lang yan para matakot ang tao. It serves a purpose because he himself says 'I'm going to shoot you.' When you go to Davao, you behave yourself. So nakikinabang din ang taga-Davao. I think he is exaggerating a lot," he said.
Duterte earlier admitted that he has actively participated in the execution of several criminals in his city ever since he was elected mayor.
He said said he was just three months into his first term as mayor in 1988 when he participated in the killing of three suspects in the kidnap and rape of a Chinese girl in Davao City.
"Hindi crime yun because they were committing a crime in my presence and I was the person in authority under the law...Pagsabi ko 'Taas ang kamay', walang tumaas ng kamay. Binira ko na," he said.
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