On this week’s episode of This Country Is A Mess: Sandro Marcos, the grandson of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos earned his Master’s Degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Isabelle Duterte, the granddaughter of current president Rodrigo Duterte, held her pre-debut photoshoot in Malacañang Palace. Ugh.
These stories were reasonably met with anger and frustration, to know that our taxes are going to these people for those purposes instead of, say, feeding the poor or improving infrastructure. But for some, these reactions of rage are confusing. Being furious with politicians is understandable, but why get mad at the kids?
It’s easy to sympathize with the notion that the apo of evil men get a free Avoid Judgement pass. They weren’t responsible (at least directly) for the human rights violations their lolos or lolas committed — I mean, it’s not like they have the power to move policy. They’re too busy being kids! Hanging out with friends, taking IG stories, whatever. Besides, it’s not like evil is a gene that can be passed down. Fine.
It’s true that it’s every generation’s right to not be seen as an exact copy of the generation that came before it. Goodness, we’re a youth publication, we know this better than anyone. But if you think it’s morally sensible to take it easy on these children (Sandro Marcos isn’t actually a child by the way — he’s an adult who actively supported his father’s campaign for vice president), then your moral compass is pointing the wrong damn way.
The idea that we shouldn’t hold the grandchildren of dictators accountable falls apart when you realize that the emotional comfort of these kids pale in comparison to the suffering endured by their grandparents’ constituents. For some reason, when somebody cries out that we shouldn’t jeer at Sandro Marcos for shading two circles in his ballot, the deaths of workers from being buried under the rubble of the Manila Film Center, and the attempts by Sandro’s grandparents to cover it up, are conveniently erased. And while every girl deserves to feel special during their debut, shouldn’t Isabelle know better (whether she’s 15 or 17) than to perform wealth of status in the Palace itself, especially in light of an ongoing drug war that specifically targets the poor? Certainly she isn’t above being corrected.
To say that these kids should be left alone to do what they want betrays a skewed kind of sensitivity — the kind that says, be gentle with the powerful, and ignore the disenfranchised.
If we’re being extra charitable, we can admit, sure, being the kid of a genocidal fascist means you’re probably going to grow up with a few screws loose. But when you’re privileged with access to a comfortable life, a good education, and are old enough to drink, you’re just not allowed to sit pretty and play dumb. If it takes a village to raise a child, then maybe it takes a whole country of rallying mobs to knock some sense into these kids. That can be arranged.
An earlier draft of this article stated that Isabelle Duterte is turning eighteen years old, when she is in fact, fifteen. We apologize for this oversight.