Poe, Escudero: We can't force Marcos Jr to apologize

LA UNION, Philippines – The tandem of Grace Poe and Francis Escudero said on Thursday, February 25, that an apology from vice presidential bet Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr for the atrocities that happened during his father's administration would not be good if not done voluntarily.

This was a reiteration of the statement that Poe made to reporters in Baguio City on Tuesday.

Calls for Marcos Jr to apologize for the human rights abuses during martial law have intensified leading up to the commemoration Thursday of the 30th anniversary of the People Power Revolution that ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. 

President Benigno Aquino III – whose late parents were among those who led the fight against Marcos – said in his EDSA anniversary speech that there was no certainty that Marcos Jr would not repeat the horrors experienced by Filipinos under his father's rule if he refuses to acknowledge that these even happened.

Poe and Escudero on Thursday visited La Union, one of the provinces considered part of the "solid North" that had delivered for the Marcoses and other Ilocano national candidates in many elections. Poe was endorsed by the wife of Governor Manuel Ortega. The Ortegas have ruled the province for more than a century.

For Poe, it is Marcos Jr's "prerogative" if he sees the need to apologize. She said it must come freely from the family, and that it is wrong to force them to own up to atrocities during their father's time.

"Bilang isang anak, hindi mo naman talaga mapipigil kasi nasa tao na rin 'yan na maghusga, at magsabi kung karapat-dapat. Pero siya mismo, prerogatibo niya 'yan," Poe said in La Union.

(As the son, you cannot really stop him [from defending his father], it is up to his judgment if an apology is in order. It is his prerogative.)

In Baguio before that, the presidential candidate was asked if Marcos Jr should own up to the abuses attributed to his family during martial law.

She said: "Siya lang ang makakasagot noon, hindi natin siya p'wedeng pilitin. Sapagkat kung gagawin niya iyon for political expediency lamang, pero hindi niya pinapaniwalaan.... Ang importante ay ano ba talaga ang kanyang paninidigan ukol dito, nangyari ba ito o hindi nangyari? Basta ang paghingi ng tawad ay dapat kusang loob. Para sa akin kung naniniwala kang may pagkakamali, hingian mo ng tawad. Kung sa tingin mo wala, hindi naman dapat, hindi mo talaga mapipilit ang tao tungkol doon."

(Only he can answer that, we cannot force him. Because if he will only do that for political expediency, but he doesn't really believe it is necessary.... The important thing [to know] is, what is his stand about this: did [the abuses] happen or not? An apology must be made voluntarily. For me, if you believe that an offense was made, then apologize for it. If you think there was none, then you really don't have to [apologize], we really cannot force a person.)

Ghosts of the past

In La Union on Thursday, Escudero, with whom Marcos Jr has tied for the top spot in the latest survey, was less kind. He said the ghosts of the past would haunt the Marcos family if they do not make right what went wrong during the dictator's time.

Escudero's father was Marcos' minister of food and agriculture.

“Maganda man at mali, dapat balikan at ituwid ng mga susunod na henerasyon. Dahil kung anuman ang nagawa ng nakaraang henerasyon, palaging sasaluhin yan ng susunod na henerasyon,” Escudero said.

(Whether it is good or bad, the next generations should go back and make it right, because what has been done by the previous generation will always haunt the next generations.)

The younger Marcos continues to be unapologetic about his father's administration, saying the country progressed during that time.

But Escudero said: "Hindi ito simpleng addition at subtraction, na lahat 'yung maganda at tamang ginawa, ia-add mo, isu-subtract mo 'yung pangit na nagawa, tapos sa dulo, 'pag positive ba, sasabihin mo, okay, walang kailangang ihingi ng tawad," Escudero said.

(This isn't simple addition and subtraction, where you add up the good and right things that he had done, then subtract the wrongdoings, then if the result is positive, you will say everything was good, you have nothing to apologize for.)

"'Pag pinilit mo ang paghingi ng tawad sa isang tao, hindi totoo 'yun. Kaya para sa 'kin, 'pag papakinabangan mo ang magandang nagawa ng iyong ninuno, dapat gawin din nating responsibilidad 'yung mga maling nagawa ng kanyang ninuno," Escudero said.

(If you force them to apologize to a person, then that will not be genuine. For me, if he's riding on the accomplishments of his ancestors, then we should make him take responsibility for the wrong things his ancestors did.) – Raymon Dullana/Rappler.com