Machiavellian plotters | Opinion, News, The Philippine Star

From the start of their political careers no other political clan in the Philippines has taken to heart the Machiavellian principles of “divide and conquer” and “the end justifies the means” as much as the Marcoses when, during the martial law regime, the late President Ferdinand Marcos and his family virtually run the country for almost two decades. 

Throughout our country’s history, they have used all means possible to get into power and stay in power. It is well documented how they have masterfully used the so-called “3Gs” of Philippine politics – Guns, Goons, and Gold – to reach the highest elective posts in government. 

Overlooked, however, in this massive system of intimidation and bribery is how the Marcos family not only uses all resources available to them but also the very well known Machiavellian tactics to get where they want to be or to get things done their way. 

To them, people are mere pawns to serve a greater purpose.

A Marcos getting into power and staying there for the remainder of their lives as much as possible is one of them. This pattern has been their perpetual strategy from Apo to Apo’s wife, former First Lady and now Ilocos Norte Congresswoman Imelda Marcos, and of course, Apo’s three children, namely, Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee, ex-Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” and Irene Araneta.

Last July 26, we featured Gov. Imee as guest in our weekly Kapihan sa Manila Bay over the latest controversy involving her alleged diversion of Ilocos Norte’s share of revenues from the tobacco excise tax. During that forum, Gov. Imee disclosed that their family is coming up soon with the Marcos version of their side to correct historical narratives about her late father’s martial law rule.

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According to her, many of the so-called “millennial” generation of Filipinos do not even know ex-president Marcos and they want to find out the truth as against how his late father was portrayed as the villain at a time the Philippines had its glorious past of economic growth and development among the countries in Southeast Asia. Taking to heart her suggestion to review the past, I went back reading books on Philippine history.

In 1963, Marcos as a young Senator then, held the Chairmanship of the powerful Senate Committee on Finance, in charge of approving the national government budget for the administration of then president Diosdado Macapagal. 

At that time, Marcos was eyeing a presidential run under a platform of being the most bemedaled Filipino World War II hero. Since medals for heroism are usually awarded by the President of the Philippines, Marcos saw that he had an ace up his sleeve against the late president Macapagal who was back then eligible for reelection.

His ploy was for president Macapagal to award him more decorations. And, in exchange, he will not vie for the presidency against Macapagal. According to academic sources, president Macapagal awarded then Sen. Marcos a total of ten medals in one day, an unprecedented number for one ex-soldier.

Of course, we all know what happened in the end. Marcos betrayed Macapagal, bolted his party to run under the Nacionalista Party (NP) and eventually defeated Macapagal in the 1965 elections.

Fast forward to the early part of 2015, his namesake son, Ferdinand Jr., was an incumbent first term Senator set to run for higher office. His close advisers prevailed upon him not to run for President because he would surely lose. But, he stood a better chance if he runs for the vice presidency instead.

However, there was a small glitch in this scheme. Despite our 1987 Constitution allowing for the President and Vice President to be elected separately, he still needed a runningmate to legitimize his vice presidential run. Here he found an ailing Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who wanted a final presidential run as a swan song to her political career.

Marcos Jr. took advantage of this opportunity and paired up with the ill Senator – knowing fully well that she could not take the rigors of the presidential campaign because of her stage 4 cancer. He only needed a partner on paper anyway. And the rest, shall we say, is history.

A few months into the first year in office of President Rodrigo Duterte, one of his most controversial decisions was to have the waxed remains of ex-president Marcos be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Denials to the contrary, the Marcos family saw this as payment for supporting the presidential bid of the former Davao City Mayor. 

To his credit, President Duterte does not deny but even publicly acknowledges at every opportunity that Gov. Imee was one of the two provincial governors who helped a lot in boosting his presidential campaign. President Duterte also cites his late father as having served as Marcos Cabinet minister.

In President Duterte’s mind, having brought to his final resting place the late dictator’s body six feet under ground, his political debt has been repaid. Unfortunately, however, the Marcos siblings have another perspective. Marcos money helped bankroll his presidential bid. Therefore, he is forever in their debt. 

There have been reports that the Marcoses have been asking Palace favors, from an appointment to the Department of Interior and Local Government to an intervention for their political problems. Unlike others they have tried to use, the President is seemingly standing his ground and not allowing the Marcoses to control him as they did many others before.

The unfolding Comelec debacle puts a new face to a strategy that has been overused and overdone by the Marcos family. Looking back at 1963, 2015, and 2016, the same narrative has gone on the past few days. 

Seeing that his electoral protest is slowly losing the public’s interest and a majority of the population believing that he had lost the Vice Presidency, Marcos Jr. is reportedly using another pawn in the person of Patricia “Tisha” Cruz-Bautista, estranged wife of Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andres Bautista.

Tisha, who has vested interests of her own share of fame and fortune, dragged her husband to settle their marital problems in public. Marcos Jr. seemingly backing her bid through his close friend Martin Loon who is now lawyering for Tisha. Both Marcos Jr. and Loon, however, vehemently deny any links.

But both intentions have aligned and now we are seeing how both parties have been acting on them. For Tisha’s sake, she should hope she is not left to hang dry once she has served the purpose of Machiavellian plotters behind her.