Filipinos bury an evil era

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 September, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 September, 1993, 12:00am

FILIPINOS flocked in their thousands yesterday to witness the homecoming of the body of their former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos. Among them were not only the mainstream Marcos loyalists, including the people of his beloved home province Ilocos Norte, but also a contingent of retired generals and members of a religious cult that worships Marcos as a god. The bulk of the crowd was there to forgive and forget. But it was swollen by people who benefited from the massive corruption and brutal authoritarianism of the Marcos years.

For all the attempts by the dictator's widow Imelda and her backers to portray the return as an opportunity for reconciliation, Filipinos from the rest of the country are sceptical. So they should be. While memories may have faded in the seven years since his overthrow, and the forces of People Power that pushed him out of office have lost their momentum, the history of the Marcos era should not be rewritten to make a saint of one of the most corrupt political leaders of the post-war era.

''Pray for the Dead But Don't Honour Corruption,'' read a protest banner outside the Cathedral where mourners were saying Mass. That should be a motto for the whole nation. It needs to be able to put the Marcos era behind it, not wallow in misplaced sentimentality for an evil man.