Imelda should also apologize

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Thursday, January 23, 2014


IMELDA MARCOS should be the last person to talk about inhuman treatment of prisoners.

Thousands of people were ordered jailed by her husband during the dictatorship. Many of them were held incommunicado. Worse, they were subjected to torture, both physical and mental. I had friends who recounted how they were roused from sleep in the middle of the night for interrogation.

Worst of all, these people were arrested without justifiable cause. Ferdinand Marcos had jailed them because they were a threat to his rule, not to the State. Of course, insofar as Marcos was concerned, he was the State and the State was Marcos.

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One of those that Marcos ordered held in solitary confinement for an extended period was the father of the man Imelda now accuses of being unfair and inhuman to Mrs. Gloria Arroyo, who is at least free to accept visitors like Imelda (and Fidel Ramos
and Erap Estrada) in her hospital suite. In comparison, the late senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino could not even see his family as often as he wished.

Mrs. Arroyo is not held in a regular prison cell but in a hospital suite. She has nurses and doctors ready to rush to her side when she needs them. Where did Imelda’s husband detain Ninoy? In a solitary cell where he could not even enjoy the benefit of sunlight. Other high profile political prisoners suffered the same, if not worse, fate.

Imelda also complained that the visits of Mrs. Arroyo’s husband and children are limited.

“What is worst is she is visited only by her husband and her children from the afternoon to 9 p.m., then she has no one,” the former First Lady reportedly said in an interview.

How soon has Imelda forgotten! Visits to detainees were restricted, if not forbidden during the darkest days of martial rule. And visitors were bodily searched on orders of the dictator and his minions.

Imelda and other visitors of Mrs. Arroyo went in and out of her hospital suite without having to suffer the indignity that the late Cory Aquino went through every time she visited her husband. And Imelda complains of inhumanity?

Ninoy was arrested without a warrant and was tried and convicted by a kangaroo court.

In comparison, Mrs. Arroyo is detained by virtue of a warrant of arrest issued by a competent court after preliminary investigation. And when her case is called for trial, she is at least assured that it will be impartial magistrates who will judge her, not the members of the Marcos military cabal that convicted Ninoy.

Imelda said she empathized with what Arroyo had been going through while in detention.

Shouldn’t she also apologize to the victims of oppression of her husband’s martial law regime for the physical, mental and emotional torture and they and their families went through?

***

High officials of the Cebu City government voluntarily submitted themselves to a surprise drug test administered by the Cebu City Office for Substance Abuse Prevention (Cosap) but the highest of them all was not among them. Mayor Mike Rama declined to be tested.

Explaining his refusal, he said that believes that the drug test is impractical, does not make sense and will only put to shame those who may test positive for illegal drugs.

While it would have been ideal if the mayor had submitted himself to the drug test like everybody else, we have to respect his decision. To test or not to test is a personal choice. The mayor, however, has to be prepared for the fallout from his refusal. There is going to be a lot of speculation.

(frank.otherside@yahoo.com)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 24, 2014.

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