The Philippines is known to have been through a lot of corruption especially during the Marcos era. Tyranny was prevalent. Absolute power, whether is a king, president or a protector is not only alien to our idea of “democratic decision” but without fail, gets to be arbitrary despotic and corrupt. Tyranny was at its height during martial law, which began September 1972.
William Shakespeare reveals his perception of a corrupt society in his play “Julius Caesar” . This play is about the assassination of Julius Caesar, dictator of Rome. His assassination by the conspirators , Brutus and Cassius was brought about by a lot of motives. Cassius’ purpose is merely his envy and his greed for power. Brutus is concerned for the good of Rome. He did not want Rome to suffer in the hands of a tyrant. Caesar’s character is not only judged by what he says or does but mostly what others think of him. To the common people he is a hero, but to the sonspirators he is a traitor to Rome. It is evident that Caesar can easily be moved by flattery which led to his death. Shortly before his death, he didn’t want to go to the capital because he gave in to Calpurnia’s fears that he might get killed. However, Decius , one of the conspirators played with his vanity by interpreting Calpurnia’s dream in a way that would flatter him. This proves that he masks his fears because he wants to cast himself in the role of a god.
The play “Julius Caesar” has its similarity in the person of Ferdinand Marcos. The rise of Ferdinand Marcos began when he pursued law at the University of the Philippines College of Law. During his senior year, he was accused of the murder of Julio Nalundasan, his father’s opponent in the election who won. Marcos defended himself in court but was eventually pronounced guilty. While in prison, he reviewed for the Bar examination. In addition to graduating with honors in his law class, Marcos topped the bar. During the war, he served as a guerilla where he was awarded medals of recognition. He became one of the most decorated hero of the Philippines, eclipsing even the most recognized leaders of the resistance against the Japanese. Marcos gained the support of his and Imelda’s family when they were wedded. In the election of 1965, Marcos then a senator changed affiliation and became the candidate for president of the Nacionalista Party. With the help of his wife, he easily won against reelectionist Diosdado Macapagal. His program of government included: (1)production of more rice and the diversification of crops (2)implementation of land reform program (3)community development in order to “strengthen further the social, economic and political base”. Marcos did his best to achieve each of his objectives. Mrs. Marcos played a big role in his political career, not like Calpurnia who was more like Caesar’s underdog. She led a campaign for the relief of the poor and the less fortunate, obtained funds for the cure of the lepers and was active in cultural affairs as well. Through her efforts, the Cultural
Center of the Philippines (CCP) was built to give artists-painters, sculptors, writers, etc.-a chance to prove their worth by giving them the facilities of the center.
During his first term, President Marcos was able to achieve the following: (1)increased rice and corn production (2) the construction of roads and bridges, including the substantial portion of the Philippine-Japan Friendship highway that would link Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao (3)the revival of intellectual renaissance through the First Lady’s patronage and involvement in the arts and (4) the construction of more school houses and (5) the rehabilitation of irrigation systems; the intensification of cooperative movement and the vigorous implementation of land reform.
However, the Marcos administration still encountered a lot of problems. These problems include : (1) worsening of peace and order situation (2) the rising prices of commodities (3) the increasing unemployment (4) the spread of squatters and housing problems (5) the constant school crisis, (6) the overstaying Chinese (7) the integration of the so-called cultural minorities and (8),the question of the
American military bases. Politicians resorted to denunciations and allegations of graft and corruption. Promises of future employment or concessions were made in exchange for votes. Based on the 1935 Constitution, if reelected, Marcos’s second term would be his last term in office and thus his last chance for the presidency. His first term had scarcely begun when he hinted at revising the presidential tenure of office. In spite of all these problems, Marcos overspent millions of pesos to boost his image in order to assure his reelection. He even hired American political consultants and strategists. Specialized budgets and pork-barrel funds were organized. The president distributed 4,000 pesos each to all barrio captains and patronage politics were organized in order to assure support ; furthermore, Marcos financed his political allies in their individual campaigns for Senatorial and house Seats.
The rising cost of consumer goods and the devaluation of the peso had a telling effect on the people and made large numbers of them miserable. Ironically, even if he was received an unparalleled majority of votes in that reelection, his inauguration was followed by unrest and bloody demonstrations from people of different classes. In January 1970, a series of rallies were launched by both radical and moderate student groups protesting the inclusion of politicians in the Constitutional Convention of 1971 and the Constitutional amendment which will enable President Marcos to extend his term. The first battle of Mendiola erupted when students overran the military lines and rammed a fire truck against the gates of Malacanang. Meanwhile, students also barricaded the University of the Philippines (UP) campus.
This shows that the Filipino citizens had a mind of their own, not like in Shakespeare’s play of “Julius Caesar” , the crowd was very gullible. During the speech of Brutus, as first they were convinced that Caesar was truly a tyrant. However, their minds changed when Antony spoke well of Caesar. This is what made them revolt against Caesar.
In June 1971, in spite of the protests of the majority, the constitutional convention replaced the 1935 Constitution. Two months later, a bombing occurred at the stage of a Liberal party rally at the Plaza Miranda. Several Liberal Party politicians were injured, among them were Jovito Salonga and Gerardo Roxas. In January 1972, Constitutional convention Eduardo quintero exposed Marcos’ briberies. He revealed that Marcos had been bribing constitutional convention delegates to make them vote against a resolution which would prevent him from running for another term and his relatives from seeking political power. Chaos erupted Manila in September 1972. The targets were usually government buildings. Believing that only a strong executive could only solve these problems, Marcos issued Proclamation no. 1081 on September 21,1972 placing the entire country under martial law. This paved the way for Marcos’ takeover of the entire
Philippine civilian and military authority. The entire country was isolated from the outside world. Overseas phone operators refused incoming phone calls. An information blackout was implemented. Various newspapers, radio and television stations were shut down. The military roamed the streets to prevent disorder and chaos from occurring. Since a lot of information was censored, people relied on word of mouth and read between the lines of official government news. All forms of arms were confiscated by the military. Classes at all levels from elementary to college were suspended for a week in order to prevent protests among students. Even books, bags, and all students belongings were subjected to inspection. All student publications were ordered to be registered with the Ministry of Public Information. The University of the Philippines student-operated radio station was closed by the military.
Marcos immediately ordered Secretary of National Defense Juan Ponce Enrile to arrest all those who committed crimes of rebellion or insurrection. Also those who were arrested were politicians who were a threat to his term. One of his political detainees was Eugenio Lopez.
Some believed that the proclamation of martial law was timely. The country was all the more in a crisis. The prices of commodities rose, peace and order was deplorable, graft and corruption made the government poorer and a few men richer, and the crime rate increased. Dishonesty was so common that the public stopped hoping to find government officials and employees who honestly performed their duties. Many members of Congress were corrupt, abusive and dishonest and enriched themselves in office.
In the tragedy of “Julius Caesar”, corrupt officials were seen in the persons of Mark Antony, Cassius and Lepidus. Cassius wanted to kill
Caesar just because he believed that he is unfit to rule and he knows that he can be a better ruler. He wanted to obtain the power all for himself. The corruption seen in Mark Antony and Lepidus was seen when they were planning their attack against the conspirators (Act IV Sc.1). Antony is a ruthless man. He is a man, without conscience, who will let nothing-not honor, not friendship stand in his way. Yet he remains a true devotee to Caesar. Antony plans to deprive the people of the money promised them in Caesar’s will. With this money, he will use to raise an army to fight the conspirators. This proves his willingness to manipulate and kill and to defy even Caesar’s wishes for the people. All that he is concerned about is his desire to revenge for Caesar’s death, whom he truly is faithful to.
Marcos’ chief political rival, Benigno Aquino was shot at Manila International Airport. After spending three years in the United States, he returned to his native country to lead the opposition and save the Philippines from political chaos and economic deterioration resulting Marcos’ tyranny. Deteriorating economic conditions, graft and corruption and the Aquino assassination triggered public protests. Aside from this, the revelation of Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth suddenly came up in an American Newspaper, the Mercury News. This made the basis of the opposition move against him, by the Batasang Pambansa. Daily demonstrations, rallies, and protests were held especially in Makati, the financial capital of the Philippines.
Marcos, confident in winning the support of the people scheduled an early presidential election in January 1986. Salvador Laurel agreed to be the vice-presidential candidate, on the condition that Corazon Aquino, Ninoy’s widow would lead the opposition and run for the presidency. Benigno’s widow gained widespread support from various social and economic sectors. The public sympathized with her and hoped in driving away the languishing dictator. It was Marcos who controlled the balloting, reporting, and tallying process. After Marcos was ousted, the military admitted to committing fraud and using intimidation. Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile revealed that he stuffed the ballot boxes for Marcos in his hometown in Cagayan.
The assassination of Ninoy was what broke the camel’s back. This is what caused the People Power Revolution in February 1986, thus leading to the fall of the Marcos regime. On the afternoon of February 22, 1986, National Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile and Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. General Fidel V. Ramos finally broke ties with President Marcos and seized control of Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame. They denounced the election of February 7 as being fraudulent. They demanded Marcos’ resignation and urged “Cory” Aquino to take the presidential seat. It was through the efforts of Jaime Cardinal Sin that all the people swarmed in EDSA (Epifanio De los Santos Avenue) to lend their support to Ramos and Enrile. His message was announced in Radio Veritas and stirred the emotions of the people. Rebel soldiers and officers barricaded themselves and joined forces with people from all walks of life in order oust the Marcos regime.
Corazon Aquino and her running mate Salvador Laurel were exiled in Cebu when this occurred. In spite of the curfew imposed by Marcos, the people still kept vigil along EDSA until the morning of February 26. Meanwhile, President Marcos offered an absolute amnesty to Ramos and Enrile provided that they surrender their opposition. However they refused his offer. Hundreds of priests and nuns sung hymns and prayers to block the path of the military men. Soon, these military men withdrew their loyalty to Marcos.
On the morning of February 25, 1986, Marcos took his oath as president for the fourth time. He spoke before a crowd of 500, which were called his loyalists. Simultaneous with his oath-taking, Mrs. Aquino was sworn into office as well. On that same day, at about 9:30 p.m, Marcos did his best to fight his last, but amounted to nothing. He was forced to leave the palace in a U.S. helicopter which thus ended his 20-year rule. He then resided in Hawaii.
In the tragedy of Julius Caesar, his tyranny was proven when he did not grant the reprieve to Metellus’ banished brother, Publius Cimber. Caesar is a man who loves flattery, very much like Marcos who spends millions of pesos to boost his image. It was Decius’ flattery which moved him to go to the capital (Act II Sc.3). The last blow was when he compared himself to the Northern Star, stating that he is as constant, and prestigious, which led to his downfall.
This proves that the abuse of power of any individual can lead to tyranny. Although in Shakespeare’s tragedy, there were no actual proofs of Caesar’s being a threat to Rome, many accepted that he was a potential tyrant. Caesar is merely judged by what people think of him rather than what he does. The crowd in this tragedy are not so wrapped up with political issues. They are easily manipulated as well. This is proven in when Marullus and Flavius summoned the people to get back to work ,making them realize that there is nothing to celebrate for (Act I Sc. 1). The people responded accordingly, feeling guilty for not working. Also, their gullibility was proven when Brutus and Antony made their funeral oration (Act III Sc.2). At first they were fully convinced that Caesar was a tyrant based on Brutus’ speech. When Antony came in the pulpit, and made them realize that Caesar was a hero, their minds changed all of a sudden which led to the downfall of the conspirators. The Filipino people were not in any way easily swayed. At first, they were moved by the promises of the late dictator. However, when they realized the ill effects of his rule, they started to revolt.
According to our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, “There are no tyrants where there are no slaves.”. This basically means that it is the citizens who produce their tyrants. If it were not for their submissiveness, they would not make a tyrant out of a politician.