A`"conjugal dictatorship" is the unofficial phrase used by critics of the rule of Philippine ex-president Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda to describe a type of family dictatorship. It originated from a book titled The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos by Primitivo Mijares that was written in 1976 within the decade after the proclamation of martial law. Mijares, the author who coined the phrase, disappeared after the publication of his book and his son was later found dead. Police investigations led by Panfilo Lacson claimed that Mijares' son was a victim of hazing by University of the Philippines Tau Gamma fraternity and the accused fraternity members were sentenced to death. Author Raissa Robles contests that the son, Luis Manuel “Boyet” Mijares, wasn’t even about to enter college, as he still had a year of high school to finish and that the fate of the accused fraternity members seems suspicious: two escaped from prison and the third died of a heart attack in detention.
A journalist who had become a propagandist and confidant for Ferdinand Marcos, Primitivo “Tibo” Mijares had served under Marcos since 1963 and had been privy to government’s high-level doings. As Chairman of the National Press Club, Mijares ran the Media Advisory Council, a state agency established to censor the press in 1973. With the power to choose which media outlet would be re-opened, the Media Advisory Council was accused of abusing its role and and was criticized as a "money-raising tool," leading one of its members, Emil Jurado, to resign. After Primitivo Mijares failed to account funds of the National Press Club and after the Media Advisory Council was abolished by Marcos in 1974, Mijares fled to the United States to join Anti-Marcos camp and wrote the book. Steve Psinakis, an anti-Marcos critic married into the Lopez family that owns ABS-CBN, wrote in his memoir A Country Not Even His Own” (2008): “The investigation (referring to the U.S. Justice Department investigation) revealed that after his February 1975 defection, Mijares did, in fact extort money from Marcos by feeding him imaginary information for which Marcos was ignorant enough to pay considerable sums. While Mijares was still receiving money from Marcos, he was at the same time lambasting Marcos in the U.S. press, causing the Marcos regime irreparable damage. It is no wonder the only natural conclusion is that Marcos had his vengeance and did Mijares in.”
Some of the book's claims have been refuted after more than a decade since its publication. For example, the book insinuated that Marcos plotted the Plaza Miranda bombing to wipe out the entire Liberal Party leadership and that the weapon landing from China for the communists along the coast of Isabela was 'staged'. The communists have since admitted to the plot to bomb Plaza Miranda, and former NPA Victor Corpuz admitted that their plot was foiled when the weapons that they were about to receive from communist China was intercepted by the military.
The phrase alludes to the power held by both halves of the couple, especially Imelda, who began to wield much more influence than that of the typical First Lady. Imelda was able to hold many more positions in government than any other First Lady of the Philippines before her. These appointments allowed her to build structures in and around the capital of Manila and act as a de facto diplomat who traveled the world and met state leaders.
Supporters, loyalists and even propagandists of the Marcos regime criticize the use of the term because they believe that the era of the Marcos' and Martial Law was the "golden age" of the Philippines. The children of the Marcos couple: Imee, Bongbong, and Irene, reject the use of the term to describe their parents which they believe is an insult to their legacy. Meanwhile, opponents of the Marcos family use the word to highlight the excesses of the couple and the greed and plunder that occurred during their 20-year rule. Critics, such as the relatives of the desaparecidos, also use the term to describe human rights abuses by the regime during their rule together.
Book Release Online
On May of 2016, the heirs of Primitivo Mijares released The Conjugal Dictatorship as a free e-book download from the Ateneo de Manila Rizal Library.<ref "rizalMijares">"Controversial book on martial law now available for free". The Philippine Star. May 20, 2016.</ref>
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- Mijares, Primitivo. The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos, Union Square Publishing, Manila, 1976. ISBN 1-141-12147-6.
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