- The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was born on September 11, 1917, which was acknowledged by the Official Gazette of the Philippines on their Facebook page
- The Gazette's post angered netizens who said its caption revised the country's history due to its erroneous, if not lacking, content
- Presidential Communications Office (PCO) assistant secretary Ralph Cualoping III spoke on behalf of the disputed infographic
The Official Gazette's commemoration of Ferdinand Marcos' 99th birthday was an online greeting card turned wrong.
On September 11, the online government portal posted a photo of the late dictator, along with a caption that earned the ire of netizens: "In 1972, he declared martial law to suppress a communist insurgency and secessionism in Mindanao. In 1986, Marcos stepped down from the presidency to avoid bloodshed during the uprising that came to be known as ‘People Power.'"
However, it has been deleted and replaced with a new one that did not reek of an undeniable bias towards the former president.
"Ferdinand Marcos started his political career in 1949 as a Representative of the Second District of Ilocos Norte. 10 years thereafter, Marcos was able to secure a seat as a member of the Philippine Senate in 1959 and was elected Senate President in 1963. Ferdinand Marcos became the 10th President of Philippines in 1965. He was the longest-serving President of the country for almost 21 years, declaring Martial Law in 1972 then went to exile to the United States in 1986 at the height of the People Power Revolution. He was succeeded by Corazon Cojuangco Aquino," read the new caption of the post.
Despite its revision, netizens still criticized the Gazette for its 'historical revisionism', leaving out the important facts of the Marcos regime.
Ralph Cualoping III, who serves as the PCO's assistant secretary, said that he and Van Ybiernas, the agency's consultant, approved of the controversial infographic.
According to him, the caption was written by Marco Angelo Cabrera, one of their staff writers. Apparently, Cabrera had previously worked for the late dictator's son, former senator and vice presidential bet Bongbong Marcos.
(Photo credit: notey.com)
"We all know that martial law happened. It really happened. But what we did was for the birthday card. It shouldn’t be agnostic; it should just be about the date that they were elected into the presidency," he reasoned.
The blunder, however, has thought the agency a lesson - they will now be more careful about what they post next time.
"We are not circumspect in terms of writing the accompanying copy … So this is a learning lesson and we commit that we will have a better gazette in the next few months … [P]ersonally, we could have been more circumspect, we could have been more prudent," Cualoping said on behalf of the PCO.
Prior to his statements earlier, he reiterated that the purpose of the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines is to serve as the 'repository of government documents as stated by law'.
"We are not in the business of revising history. We only convey what is documented in the official records," he added.
The Official Gazette will not issue an apology 'that would come from the office', but a personal one - presumably that of the writer's or those who got involved in approving the caption.
(photo credit: gov.ph)
Even if the PCO has committed another gaffe recently, Cualoping stated that they should improve their services and serve the public justly.
"We should not be blinded by our own propaganda, statements. We have to listen to the people.”