Not from unconcern as from weariness, I had in mind earlier to ignore Martial Law’s 51st anniversary tomorrow. But when Marcos Jr. extolled Marcos Sr.’s legacy at the latter’s birthday, my mind flipped. I must speak the truth to power once more no matter how wearisome it has become.

It is naked truth to me that his late father’s dictatorship was the most repressive and inhuman in this country’s history of self-rule. The self-proclaimed despot brazenly violated people’s basic human rights on the pretext of saving our democracy. Yet the irony of preserving democracy by killing it proved in the end to serve only his mundane greed and ambition.

Marcos Sr.’s legacy was not “peace and order and development” but imprisonment, torture, and death to those who stood in the way of his obsessions. Sick and tired of his despotic rule, people rose to oust him and only his timely rescue by the US prevented a potentially violent end to his life. This is hardly the way a president with a laudable legacy leaves his office and country.

When Marcos Sr. first took office as President, the Philippines was behind only to Japan in economic development. Now we are the basket case of Asia. Korea, dirt poor in the ‘50s, was the first to pass us, then Thailand and Indonesia. Vietnam is the latest. We have not only been passed by these countries but we also continue to be outpaced by them in all phases of development.

Moreover, before the Marcos presidency, corruption in government was moderate by the standards of the day. After his egregious use of power to enrich his family and cronies, corruption became the lifestyle of the country’s government bureaucracy. Government service went to the dogs and has since become a most profitable self-sustaining business monopoly of political families.

The signs are all over the place. There are no poor, not even moderately rich, high government officials. They are all filthy rich while the rest of the country squirms to survive in the dumps their self-serving corrupt governance has made of our economy.

They are not dumb; they know what is at the heart of the problem of poverty. Yet, they content themselves with merely plugging leaks here and there in the system, like putting a cap on prices and condoning agricultural loan debts, just so people don’t get so riled up. Thus, poverty goes down in dressed-up government reports not in reality and corruption is starkly worse than ever.

What Junior should do is pay his father’s debts to the Filipino people. But this looks to be farthest from his mind as he instead is window-dressing his father’s image. That leaves me fearful that his failure to unite the country in spite of his administration’s indiscriminate red-tagging of activists might make Junior want to preserve democracy again by killing it, perhaps in a subtler but no less repressive way his father did it 51 years ago tomorrow.

What legacy is he talking about?