FORMER senator Juan Ponce Enrile on Monday said the late President Ferdinand Marcos has the right to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig, as he announced that he and seven other living former Cabinet members of the late dictator would join the funeral next month.
“I am wondering why this has become an issue as to where he should be buried. As far as I know, the law has no exception that says he could not be buried there. He was a former president and former soldier. No one is denying that he was once a military man. Many were buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani who were not heroes, no medals. Why should he be excluded in that piece of land. Some of them are staff officers but Marcos fought the Japanese,” Enrile told a forum at Manila Hotel organized by members of Samahang Plaridel, a group of journalists.
“He fought during the war and that was the only major war we were involved in, why deny him the privilege of being buried there. That is why I don’t understand why we even have to litigate the burial of president Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani because if you study what Marcos did over the time that he was president, I don’t think anyone, with due respect for those that followed him, could equal his record except that he declared martial law to save this country,” he said.
The former Defense secretary of Marcos said he and six other former Cabinet members would join the funeral slated next month.
“I was invited to the funeral on Sept. 18 and I will go there together with [six]living former ministers of Marcos,” he said referring to Cesar Virata (finance), Jaime Laya (education), Gerardo Sicat (socioeconomic planning), Francisco Tatad (press), David Consunji (public works), and Roberto Ongpin (trade and industry).
On the issue of human rights abuses, torture, disappearances and rapes committed during Martial Law, Enrile said none of them were proven in court because none of the victims filed a case before the Philippine courts even during the time of the late President Corazon Aquino.
Govt defends planned burial
Government lawyers on Monday defended before the Supreme Court the Duterte administration’s decision to allow the interment of the late strongman Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) invoked the executive powers of President Rodrigo Duterte under the law that allows honors and burial at the Heroes’ Cemetery for the late strongman.
In an 86-page comment, the OSG stressed that the decision of President Duterte to allow a hero’s burial for Marcos was a valid exercise of his prerogative power under the Constitution and the Administrative Code.
The comment was filed in reaction to three petitions filed last week by different groups of Martial Law victims led by former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and former Commission on Human Rights chairwoman Etta Rosales.
Alvarez files petition
A fourth petition was filed on Monday by former senator Heherson Alvarez and other personalities.
Allowing the burial would be “a mockery and repudiation of all the efforts of the past three decades, not only to find restitution for his victims, but to unshackle this nation from the burden of corruption which the dictator spawned and allowed to fester,” said the petition.
Alvarez’s group sought a temporary restraining order or a writ of preliminary injunction to stop the burial.
The former senator said in a statement President Duterte should draw a line between his friendship with the Marcoses and his duty, and “this is an act of fine statesmanship on Digong’s part.”
The high court is set to hear the case in oral arguments on Wednesday.
‘Rights violations not related’
The OSG, in it comment, belittled the claims of human rights violations and corruption under the Marcos regime, saying they had no connection at all to the case.
The Marcos family supported the government’s defense.
In a 13-page comment lodged before the high court on Monday, the Marcoses questioned the legal standing of petitioners and the injury that would be caused with the said burial.
The Marcos family, represented by lawyer Hyacinth Rafael-Antonio, noted the failure of the petitioners to cite clear and unmistakable rights or grave injury that they would suffer as a result of the interment.
“Allegations of violations of human rights personally experienced by petitioners and of others, in general, after declaration of Martial Law on Sept. 21, 1972, are denied. Apart from being irrelevant to the issue at hand, the allegations may not be assumed as facts but needs to be established with competent evidence,” the Marcoses said.