Can we shift our gaze away from Marcos?



WITH the sole cooperation of the military and without alerting the public in advance about it, the Marcos family buried the remains of the late former President Ferdinand Marcos in private rites at the Libingan ng mga Bayani at high noon last Friday, while their mostly leftist adversaries prayed in vain for a reversal of the Supreme Court decision dismissing their petitions against the burial, and while President Rodrigo Duterte, its main proponent, was attending the APEC summit in Lima, Peru. It was a totally unexpected coup.

One way of looking at it is that the Marcos camp won and the petitioners lost. The better way of looking at it is that we all won, nobody lost. We can now heave a sigh of relief that one massive load has been taken off our shoulders and our backs, and hopefully the nation can now move forward. This gives the President a much bigger space in which to maneuver and lead.

What the Court said
In its 9 to 5 ruling penned by Associate Supreme Court Justice Diosdado Peralta, the high court said that Duterte’s decision to allow the burial was political and “outside the ambit of judicial review.” No law is violated, which recognizes the rights of victims of any human rights violation from Sept. 21, 1972, when Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law to turn back the communist insurgency, until Feb. 25, 1986, when he fell in a civilian- and US-assisted military coup.

The Court said the petitions should have been dismissed on procedural grounds because the petitioners, which included self-described victims of human rights violations during martial law, had failed to show how allowing the burial of Marcos’s remains threatened any of their rights.

The Court could not have been fairer than this.

All except one of the five justices who had dissented against the Peralta ponencia were Supreme Court appointees of former President B. S. Aquino Jr., who had waged a strident personal campaign against the Marcoses during his six years in office. The non-Aquino appointee argued that Marcos’s ouster in 1986 had wiped out his right to rest at the Libingan.

This was a political opinion which no magistrate has any right or duty or competence to make; it carries no factual or constitutional weight in this controversy whatsoever. Do we actually know, for a fact, what actual forces ultimately drove Marcos out of the Palace? That is only the first of so many unasked, and unanswered, questions.

PNoy’s influence on his justices
As for the Aquino justices, their patron had made it clear that he would not allow Marcos’s remains to be buried at the Libingan during his watch, just as he would not allow any member of the Marcos family to come close to the presidency, if he could help it. Thus last May, PNoy did everything to make sure that Marcos’ son and namesake, then Senator Ferdinand (Bongbong) Marcos Jr., would not be declared vice president-elect, regardless of his actual votes.

Marcos Jr. was leading the vice-presidential race from the start of the counting until the early hours of the next day when he was suddenly overtaken by the Liberal Party’s Leni Robredo, PNoy’s candidate. He never recovered from that, and had to file a formal protest before the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, composed of all the members of the high court, where the case now sleeps.

It started with Cory
As president, Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, PNoy’s late mother, declared that Marcos would no longer be allowed to return to the Philippines from his exile in Hawaii, where the US Air Force had taken him and his family after his fall from power—not even to answer the charges filed against him for crimes he had allegedly committed against the Philippines.

As Cory Aquino’s supporter at the time, I had to point out in a public statement that the Constitution, which she had just promulgated, was meant to protect all Filipinos without exception, not all Filipinos except Marcos. It could not withhold its legal protection from the Marcoses any more than it could withhold such protection from any of Cory’s friends and allies.

Marcos died on Sept. 28, 1989, and was not allowed to be brought home. But his widow, Imelda Romualdez Marcos, was allowed to come home to answer some summonses and run in the 1992 presidential elections.

In 1993, President Fidel V. Ramos, who had been Marcos’s Philippine Constabulary Chief and later AFP Vice Chief of Staff and had helped then Defense Secretary/Minister Juan Ponce Enrile implement martial law from 1972 to 1980, allowed Marcos’s remains to be brought home.

But he withhheld permission for the remains to be buried at the Libingan. Imelda decided to keep them inside a refrigerated vault in Batac, Ilocos Norte, Marcos’s hometown, where long lines of visitors came to pay their respects especially on weekends.

DU30’s promise
In the last presidential campaign, DU30 promised to allow Marcos’s interment at the Libingan should he win. Did he promise to have him buried as a hero? Not at all. Except for PNoy, who tried to make heroes of his deceased parents, no president can declare a particular individual a hero. The people confer the proper recognition on their own heroes.

Although Libingan ng mga Bayani literally means “Burying Ground for Heroes,” the term is more of a generous exercise of poetic license. Libingan is no more than a national military shrine administered by the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office under the supervision of the Department of National Defense. It is not to be confused with the National Pantheon, which is authorized but remains unimplemented by Republic Act 289, meant “to perpetuate the memory of all Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn.”

Being a hero is not a necessary qualification for one to be buried at the Libingan. Under the military guidelines, a former soldier, a recipient of the Medal of Valor, a former secretary of national defense, and a former president may be interred there. On the few occasions I have visited the Libingan to join a Mass for my dear departed friend and former colleague, Senator and later Foreign Secretary Blas Ople, I did not see a single marker belonging to anyone I thought was a hero. I tried to look for the grave of Cory’s police dog, but I was told it was buried inside Malacanang Park.

Congratulations, not condolences
It was against this background that the Marcoses staged their unpublicized burial of the Marcos remains. Instead of condoling with the Marcoses, as is usual on these occasions, I heard people congratulating them for “outsmarting their political enemies”. Many, if not most, of these “enemies” are associated with the old communist movement which had prompted Marcos to declare martial law in 1972, but which found a sanctuary in Utrecht, the Netherlands, and in the Philippine countryside, where it managed to survive the collapse of Soviet communism and the end of the Cold War in 1991, and succeeded recently in inserting itself inside the DU30 government.

Despite this, they are in open conflict with DU30 on Marcos’s burial.

By nightfall of Friday, pockets of demonstrators, mostly students, occupied a portion of the square of the People Power Monument on EDSA, reciting a mantra and brandishing anti-Marcos placards. They were more noisy than numerous; the next day, their ranks dwindled to a few holdouts. At the same time Imelda led thousands to pray at the Marcos tomb and protect it from any possible disrespect from the anti-Marcos group.

Exhuming Marcos
Visibly thrown off balance by the turn of events, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and other protest leaders denounced the burial as illegal and threatened to have Marcos’s grave dug up. To this, a Marcos loyalist was heard to say that this would be quite all right, provided at least one of them would take Marcos’s place inside his desecrated grave.

The absence of non-family members at the Libingan tended to bolster the claim that the Marcos family merely wanted to fulfill the late strongman’s dying wish that he be buried side by side with his fellow soldiers. The family merely wanted a simple soldier’s burial, not to proclaim Marcos a hero. The protest now tries to revolve around the placard “Marcos is not a hero.” But no one is saying he is!

The military gave Marcos an honor guard, a 21-gun salute, etc—all the honors due a departed president. This showed the kind of respect, affection perhaps, which the officers and men of the AFP had for Marcos; but this was not within the control of the Marcoses. In any case, the military does not have the authority to make a national hero of Marcos.

De Gaulle’s example
Not too long ago, I was asked, as one of the surviving members of the Marcos Cabinet, what I thought of the Libingan issue. I said that if I were a member of the Marcos family and I had a decisive say on the matter, I would recommend that, like General Charles de Gaulle, the President of France, who was buried not in the Pantheon in Paris, but inside the churchyard in his village of Colombey-les-deux-Eglises, Marcos should be buried in a private place rather than at the Libingan.

If his memory outlives his enemies, such a place would in time become much more important than any common burying ground.

After the Supreme Court said there was no legal obstacle to burying Marcos’s remains at the Libingan, I thought it would be a class act if the Marcos family were to issue a formal statement thanking the Supreme Court for its ruling, and then announce that they had decided to bury Marcos in a private plot which would be accessible to all people at all times. This would have thoroughly disarmed the petitioners and the alleged martial law victims.

But then I learned that it was not the family’s wish that Marcos be buried at the Libingan; it was rather his dying wish. No one dishonors that. Having fought against the Japanese invasion in World War II, received the Medal of Valor, served as secretary of national defense, been elected president not once but thrice (1969, 1980, 1986), he was qualified, on each of these counts, to be interred there. Is it possible that some people are not merely against Marcos being buried at the Libingan, but are against Marcos being buried in the country at all?

Through the untethered social media and the gullible and witless mainstream media, we have created an overdose of unthinking individuals who are so ready to parrot the grievances of the so-called victims of martial law without trying to find out whether or not these alleged victims had in fact contributed to the cause of martial law. The most stupid of them say, “Never again martial law;” none of them ever says, “Never again the things that brought about martial law.”

In one careless swing, FVR called on the Marcos family to apologize for martial law. This was most egregious. As president, Marcos exercised powers of the state. He did not share these with any member of his family, least of all his children, who were minors at that point. As my neighbor on this page, Rigoberto Tiglao, has pointed out, Ramos was an implementor of martial law, and should be the first one to apologize, if any apology is needed.

Former Senate President Enrile, who was Marcos’s defense secretary until he led the military mutiny against him, was the main administrator of martial law. He is waiting to be asked questions by any “martial law victim,” if they could but temporarily shift their gaze away from the dead and defenseless Marcos.


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  1. In death, everyone, good or evil, smart or fool, is in parity.His sins are interred with him and forgotten. Let’s move on and confront the problems of the living. No one can write about the Marcos burial and related issues better than former Information Minister and Sen. Kit Tatad. Kudos!


    The more bashing that Marcos will get from the Aquinos, more truth will come out and will only perpetuate the greatness of Marcos.

  3. One way of looking at it is that the Marcos camp won and the petitioners lost. by Sec. Kit Tatad

    Again Mr. Secretary, the opinion written has brought more division between filipino. I totally disagree with PDU30’s sentiment on burial on the late dictator. I understand his gratitude to repay the few personalities especially Imee Marcos on his candidacy for president. It is one of best qualities of the all filipino (tumanao ng utang na loob). But PDU30 should not forget that he is now president to all filipino. I understand he would like healing and unite all filipino. He states burial of the dictator in LNMB would bring the ilocano to fold. He forget the dictator has created grievous crimes to tagalogs visayans and even moros. Crimes and plunder that should not be forgotten and should not be erase from history of my Philippines. “Never again” as the People Power mantra states. This stealthy burial has awaken the pain and anger of majority of the filipino toward the wanton abuses of the Marcos. It remind them the arrogance of the Marcoses especially the plunder of Imelda and Imee’ s above law attitude. Ilocano would understand and respect FM’s wish to be buried with his mother in his beloved Batac.

    I still believe PDU30 can unite my Philippines. I believe the filipino will stand with PDU30 in the fight against and elimination graft and corruption. I still believe the filipino will unite with PDU30 to get my Philippines progress and eliminate poverty. I still believe the filipino will unite with PDU30 wish of return to greatness of my Philippines Thank you

  4. Hero or Not! Let’s close this issue and start moving on for the good of the country! Allow these protest rallies until they’re all blue in their face or till Kingdom come! Mapapagod at magugutom din mga yan!!!

    Do we actually know, for a fact, what actual forces ultimately drove Marcos out of the Palace? That is only the first of so many unasked, and unanswered, questions.rayDo we actually know, for a fact, what actual forces ultimately drove Marcos out of the Palace? That is only the first of so many unasked, and unanswered, questions.

  6. Worth reading… I agree with you Mr. Tatad. As an ordinary citizen,
    I would like to give the same advise to Marcos family… but we are late to say these:

    “it would be a class act if the Marcos family were to issue a formal statement thanking the Supreme Court for its ruling, and then announce that they had decided to bury Marcos in a private plot which would be accessible to all people at all times. This would have thoroughly disarmed the petitioners and the alleged martial law victims”

    Additional to your words, we don’t live in disney world. “Not all of our wishes are granted” .

  7. The Communist, Journalist and useless Politicians/Justices uses Marcos as an issue to be noticed in their propaganda but could not help the Filipino people. There are a lot of major problems at hand, open your eyes my countrymen let us concentrate to improve our country and it will improve our life.

  8. Don’t forget that Ninoy Aquino, the yellow hero, is perpetually disqualified to be buried at the LMB for having been convicted and sentenced to death by a military tribunal. As you pointed out, these yellow creeps have never proven that the charges against Ninoy were mere fabrications of Marcos. This is what galls the Aquinos, actually. You and I know who really bombed Plaza Miranda, that crime of the century that pushed Marcos to declare Martial Law. Those who love to point their fingers at Marcos are the real degenerates of history. It must suck to be a yellow.

  9. jeff jaramillo on

    A perfect article.

    No one else has the authority to talk about martial other than this author. Right after the declaration of Martial Law, It was Kit Tatad who responded to all questions directed to Malacaniang. Martial Law was well justified by him and not long after, it such was confirmed by the the Supreme Court.

    To Fidel Ramos: Did you receive any specific order from Pres. Marcos to torture people protesting martial law? If none, then who gave orders to torture people? Or was there any so called torture and Human Rights violations during those days? If your answer is yes, then what did you do to stop it?

  10. My wife and I were rabidly against Marcos during those dangerous years We were in protest rallies always, tear-gassed at Liwasan, shot at by snipers atop tall buildings at Mendiola and marched the entire distance on foot between Tarlac and Tarmac while lending our car to two Radio Veritas reporters (one of whom is Henry Omaga Diaz, now with ABS-CBN). We were also among the first ones who entered Malacanang grounds on the night of February 25 among the Enrile and Ramos group. Maybe because we were as clueless/media-misled about the truth then as these student protesters are now. But as the truth about the prelude towards and the actual implementation of martial law unfolded over the years and as we experienced the two Aquinos’ evil deeds we woke up and softened our stand against and resolved to forgive FEM. I reckon most of the students now being egged on by school authorities to protest against the Marcos burial do not fully understand the realities and the truth about the matter. Pity these young students and woe to their deceivers ! Remember who comprised the Hitler Brown Shirts ? Weren’t they youngsters ? Are we about to see Yellow “Nazis” in our midst soon ?

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      Thank you for clarifying the issue and for telling the truth based on your personal experience. As we now are observing the yellows are coming to their end so that they have to make noise. History will finally judge Marcos and the yellows.

  11. Another biased article. the general members of the public did not win here , only those on one side-the pro-Marcos side.

    Another example of so-called journalists maintaining the status-quo by not challenging it, being biased and not reporting things in a factual manner and also allowing themselves to be used to disseminate lies, which because some members of the public do not exercise their brains accept hook, line and sinker.

    The can be no reconciliation if those that suffered during Martial Law do not receive justice, justice from their Government which is supposed to represent them and not the chosen few feudalistic family dynasties that continue to rape the country to this day!

    • If these so called victims did not get their justice after all the lawsuits filed against the Marcoses, I believe there is always justice in the afterlife. God is a righteous judge and will judge based on truth, for all of us will stand before judgement seat of Christ.

    • While I agree that real innocent individuals caught in between fighting forces who fell victim on those turbulent times, must be given some form of compensation (or file their case against surviving Martial Law administrators ). But for the CPP members, rallyists, insurgents and all individuals who call themselves revolutionaries against the government, every fallen men among them is justice for the republic and the Filipino people who support the state.

    • jaime dela Cruz on

      then why vent it on the Marcoses and not to the presidents after him starting from Cory. Ramos and Enrile are still alive, perhaps they should be given the “truth serum” to tell the truth about the atrocities. I suspect that Tabako has a lot to tell.

  12. Maribel A. Calanda on

    Yes these victims are hurting and at the same time opportunists or is it the Yellow government really? They want to fix their gaze at Marcos because they know too well that Marcos is legally wealthy and they want to be paid as victims. The money is being held in escrow but the government is greedy because they said it formed part of the collected ill-gotten wealth which up to this day is unproven or because they have to prove that Marcos is guilty of criminal acts before any courts in the Philippines before the money could be released is also one of the conditions. How can they prosecute a dead man to defend himself? Hence, the reparations continue to drag. Once they have received the money, they will no longer be noisy except for the dyed in the wool Yellowtards. and Communists.
    The victims want the Marcoses to spend their own money and wealth for them. Some like Etta Rosales are even talking to the First Lady and expressed her exasperation that it is the government who is tying the hands of Mrs Marcos. Anyway, I am not an Ilocano but to me Marcos is a hero. I am happy that he is in buried in his rightful place under the sun. Before I end, let us do the numbers first. On record there are only 10,000 human rights victims in a case filed before the Hawaii court, now it suddenly ballooned to 70,000. For the sake of argument, let us pick 70,000 human rights victims to illustrate my point. 70,000 victims under the Marcos regime for 20 years is a pale comparison to the 3,700.000 drug addicts or illegal drug victims with the governance of 30 years of the Yellow Cult. I would always prefer that the country be under Martial Law than what it is today. The country is now a narco-state. This is actually a curse upon us by the Yellow cult. There was nothing like this under Marcos time. 30 years after he is gone, we are now a narco-state. Woe upon us Filipinos.

  13. Mr. Kit Tatad, I am one with those, who are against Ferdi Marcos burial in Libingan nang Bayani Cemetery, for a personal reason that he was not a hero himself: his government was filled to the brim of corruptions, abused of power that resulted in so many killings and tortures; his declaration of Martial Law made former president Ferdi Marcos himself the worst Oligarch together with his cronies in the Philippine history. Fidel Ramos and Enrile were the instruments of Ferdinand Marcos himself. But Ferdi Marcos was the root for all corruptions and killings, tortures, and disappearance of many of those who were his enemies in politics. I disagree with your neighbor Tiglao. However, now that Ferdi Marcos is buried in the Libingan nang Bayani by sneaking, though, I don’t think exhuming him from his grave is a good image for us all Filipino. If the living Marcoses are also people with good heart, they should start apologizing to the people; they should return all the money that their Father and mother have stolen.

    • if you are angry that because of corruption, killings and tortures during Marcos time, then you should also be angry during Ramos/Cory/GMA/Pnoy administration….You should be protesting like hell against these Presidents….For corruption, killings, tortures never ended when Marcos left and ask these Presidents to return what they stole

  14. Will the Martial Law be resurrected too since FVR has a fatherly advise to DU30 to run for Presidency? Where did DU30 get the idea of independent foreign policy?