THE burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani could never provide closure to the horrors of martial law, for which he was the chief architect. It will never put an end to the search for justice. And even if Marcos were denied such burial, it will still not extinguish the hate. Even if Kiko Pangilinan makes good his threat to exhume the body if the LP returns to power, this inhumanity will only satisfy the thirst to exact vengeance, but it will never stop the search for truth.
Nothing can put an end to the search for truth, except truth itself.
The torture, rape and murder of people who challenged the state by choosing to fight for the communist ideology, and those who were suspected of being their sympathizers, and the pain and suffering that such caused their families and loved ones, could never be assuaged by just settling for financial restitution.
Compensatory justice can never be enough, and focusing on it does not serve the interest of truth since it does not reveal the human agents that caused the horrors. If at all, the crimes associated with martial law are now being paid for by the state from the Marcos loot, or whatever is recovered from it. It becomes a burden for all, for the monies stolen are in fact stolen from state coffers, and should therefore go back to the state and be spent for all Filipinos, and not be used only as compensation for those who suffered under martial law.
This is the problematic nature of justice in the form of indemnification. It only monetizes the horror, passes the burden to all citizens who could have been beneficiaries of projects for which the monies would have been otherwise spent, but it will never reveal truth for the purpose of punishing the criminal. Truth has been merely reduced to evidence of victimization so that one can claim compensation.
This kind of truth rested on the premise that martial law atrocities could all be singularly attributed to one man alone, its chief architect, the hated dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos. For many, it was enough to hold Marcos accountable, and to write the tales of horror as one that only Marcos could be accused of. Never mind if in the 21 years of Marcos rule, nine of which were under martial law, there were others who were as involved, if not more, in the enforcement of its terror.
It was indeed puzzling why after the fall of the dictator there was no attempt to have a systematic inquiry into the atrocities, with the purpose of having a detailed accounting of the culpable individuals, and to ascertain the chain of command for every recorded case of rape, torture, murder and forced disappearances.
What was obviously widely adhered toas the convenient truth was that only Marcos could be held liable for everything.
This is a pattern that is so uncharacteristic of the experience of other countries who dealt with the aftermath of mass violence, genocide and war crimes, where war crime tribunals, truth commissions, or genocide courts were established to precisely identify and punish the agents who were responsible for the atrocities.
Twelve years of the post-Marcos era had an Aquino for President, and yet none of those years was devoted to a systematic effort to look for truth, and ascertain the accountability for the horrors that happened during the Marcos years, including those that happened during martial law. There was a Commission on Human Rights established from the 1987 Constitution, yet no single person was brought to court and jailed for a martial law-related crime.
Efforts were focused on recovering the ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses.
It is in this where the word “crony” has found a niche in our martial law discourse. Cronyism was defined in the context of amassing wealth. But there is no word that emerged that applies to those who collaborated and were complicit in the terrors that were unleashed.
“Marcos and his cronies” emerged as the phrase used to refer to the agents of plunder. But what we have for the rape, torture and murder is only Marcos. No Enrile. No Ramos and his men.
This is precisely why there will never be closure. This is because every rape, torture and murder remains unsolved, as it was conveniently implied only into this monster that is now being imaged in our history as the repository of all guilt, as written by those who benefit from its simplification.
And even until now, his burial is treated as if it is the Archimedian point for the betrayal of truth and justice.
If we need to have closure, there is a need to forget about the corpse of Marcos, and begin to look for truth found in the testimonies of those who suffered. Name those who raped, tortured and killed, and if they are still alive, bring them to justice.