How Ferdinand Marcos’ burial was kept secret from the country

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RACHEL A.G. REYES

RACHEL A.G. REYES

HOW was it possible that last Friday’s burial of Ferdinand Marcos caught the country flat-footed? We now know that at around 8.46 a.m., the dictator’s remains were flown from Ilocos to Manila by Army helicopter. There was a grandhearse. Relatives and guests arrived in a fleet of big cars. The Marcos family was impeccably dressed: Imelda wore a beautiful black terno whose silken folds fluttered elegantly in the breeze. Imee was in immaculate white, and her brother chose a barong his father would have favored. The coffin, draped in the nation’s flag, was carried with great ceremonyby military pallbearers and honored with a 21- gun salute. Soldiers in full military regalia dutifully saluted. Priests, just as dutifully, prayed and officiated. There were wreaths and bouquets, one said to be from the President. The ceremony began promptly at noon, as tradition dictated, and ended an hour later. Rows and rows of soldiers and police stood guarding the cemetery’s perimeter and entrances. Clearly,the event wasplanned and executed with the sort of precision and meticulous coordination that seems so uncharacteristic of us Filipinos. Moreover, somehow, remarkably, itwas all accomplished with absolute secrecy. Not a shred of information was leaked. Not a single journalist was alerted. Not a single pesky protester was there to ruin the moment and the photos. The Marcoses even controlled the visuals, selecting only a few images of the event for public consumption. The President was conveniently out of the country. His office claimed ignorance. “We honestly don’t know,” said the doe-eyed spokesperson who stood before an aghast press corps. What an impressive and extraordinary feat.

The predictable outrage that poured forth looked futile and impotent. “I could hardly believe it,” raged Congressman EdcelLagman. “It is a continuing deception and abuse being committed by the Marcoses.” A livid Vice President Leni Robredo accused the Marcos family of flouting the law, likening the move to “a thief in the night”. There are demands for the body to be exhumed. There are demonstrations in the streets. The clamor sounds a lot like the closing of stable doors after the horses have bolted.

When questioned, Rodrigo Duterte shrugged the whole thing off. “[Marcos] was a president for so long [sic], and he was a soldier. That’s about it.” Sputtering indignantly about Marcos’ disgraceful military and presidential record, or his dark deeds of torture and murder, or his unbridled kleptomania, does not do much good. The winds have turned and they blow against history. Duterte’s dismissive nonchalance about the country’s martial law past is unlikely to change. “There’s no study, no movie about it,” he said. The President appears to be implying that the horror of the Marcos dictatorship was some kind of trick of the light.

Yet, Duterte’s prevarications are not as preposterous as one might think. Throughout his presidential campaign, Duterte made known his personal indebtedness to Ferdinand Marcos and his closeness to members of the Marcos family, in particular the dictator’s only son. He hinted that Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos would be the next Vice President. He repeatedly promised he would allow the late dictator to be buried in the Libingan ng mgaBayani with full military honors. He peddled the false idea that such an act would be one of healing. None of this put voters off, and Duterte took power. Just over a week ago, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of a heroes’ burial for Marcos and the judges’ shoulder-shrugs were not much different from the President’s. “In law, as much as in life,” said Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta,usingabsurd New Age therapy-speak, “there is need to find closure.”

Who were present to pay their last respects? The list of cronies who owe Marcos their wealth and power is long and wide. It is not yet known whether the late dictator’s closest surviving henchmen, Fidel Ramos and Juan Ponce Enrile, attended the funeral. More than anyone, these two men, one a cousin, the other a fellow Ilocano, both loyal throughout the Marcos years, commanded the police force and the military that were responsible for ensuring the stability of the authoritarian regime through brutal extrajudicial operations and nationwide state terror. Or Joseph Estrada, who was mayor of San Juan, Metro Manilain 1971, a position that gave him his first foothold on power. Perhaps there was a clutch of Supreme Court justices, acolytes and sycophants of the ageing former Justice Minister Estelito Mendoza, a longtime defense lawyer of the Marcoses. Present too, may have beentoday’s titans of commerce and industry, those who rose from nothing and ended up controlling the country’s media, utilities and natural resources. Men such as Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco who enriched themselves from presidential favors that bought their patronage and, in doing so, turned ruthless venality into a virtue. Surely, thepriests in attendancewere obliged to obtain permission from the Catholic hierarchy to be present. It may well be that the justification echoed the President’s sentiments: “Marcos was a Catholic. That’s about it.”

We have become inured to the barefaced lies and flimflam maneuverings of our politicians. However, the Marcos family pulled off a startling coup of a different order. Whether they were able to do so becausemany of the country’s key big shots owe the strongman their lives and fortunes is, at the end of the day, neither here nor there. Marcos loyalists mentored and nurtured a successive generation of intellectuals and influentials, thus ensuring that deference and indebtedness would exert their own special weight.

What is clear is that the brazen might of wealth, entitlement, influence and power of the Marcoses bore down on the institutional pillars of the nation. The military, the police, the Church, the judiciary, the presidency, gave their assent and kept arrangements secret. The Marcoses issued a directive and it was followed.

Simply put, the Marcos family was able to do it because they could.

rachelagreyes@gmail.com

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19 Comments

  1. How in the world was Marcos burial even considered a secret. The intent was already known as soon as Duterte won. It was confirmed as soon as the Supreme Court released its decision (which was delayed many times over). The real problem here was that for so many years, none of the yellows ever thought of putting a lid on the Marcos wish to bury FEM at the LMB. They has 2 Aquino presidents, and a Ramos, years of majority rule in both houses, and even the SC. And to think they can still blame Marcos….

  2. Whether you like it or not, it is always the victors who write history. As long as the Filipinos wrongly select their leaders, the victors in the Philippines were always be the villains. Unfortunately, the Filipinos has been electing wrong presidents, senators, congressmen, governors, mayors, and baranggay captains. Proof — poverty and crimes and inequality of opportunities in the Philippines is still rampant. There is a large gap between the rich and the poor. The way things happen, it is always the moneyed leaders who abused its own people. Now, the Philippines is leaning towards Russia and China. One example of Russian loyalist is Cuba. Did Russia save Cuba from poverty? There is no FREEDOM in Cuba. For the last 50 years that Cuba antagonized the USA and stay as Socialist with Russia, it is not only the standard of living that went down to the bottom, even Cuba is only little more than 100 miles to the USA. Even the life span in Cuba is shortened. The government soldiers shot and killed many Cubans. The power of guns superseded the power of the pens. Tell me, how can the Philippines would get out of the mess, if poverty rises every year? “You are what you eat.” KUNG ANO ANG IPINAKAIN MO SA ANAK MO, GANON SIYA. KUNG CORRUPT KA MAGIGING CORRUPT DIN AND MGA ANAK AT MAGIGING APO MO. How many more years will it take the Philippines to select the right leaders? That is the question!

  3. Some of the most forceful and most convincing “revisionists” rewriting history would be someone next door to you. His name is Rigoberto Tiglao. I read and refer to him a lot and I find him a lot better read than you for many of the details that most people really do not know. Those of you who are routinely scandalized by revisionism, which include another neighbor of yours, Rene Saguisag, should try refuting Tiglao from time to time. That is one of the best ways to stop revisionism. Your inability or refusal to refute says a lot.

  4. The protesters do not constitute a country and Marcos family has no obligation to inform them about the details of burial. Everybody knows that if Duterte wins, it will happen and the voices of opposition has been heard in Supreme Court. How many a time a decision with finality means to the opposition? These backward thinking people will always find their way to clash with the government even on non-Marcos issue dahil gusto nila sila ang bida.

    • Lenia Hetherington on

      Pres. Marcos was and still considered the best President of the Philippines has ever have, but then, he may have to be second best to President Duterte when Duterte’s term will end, unless he will messed up.

  5. Why the Yellows and Reds are not accusing Enrile and Ramos???? because, once these Y&R touch them, their lies will be exposed. So, it is win-win solution don’t touch my past and I will not touch your future.

  6. Continuing saga of the Marcoses! One young chap in his twenties came to me and asked me what I think of the clandestine burial of Marcos in the LNMB. I said categorically, it should not have happened. The Marcoses including their great great grand children will suffer more because of pride and greed. No one can change the history of our country. Most of the accusations against Marcos are true without any doubt. This is again a case of “sowing and reaping”. I hope the Marcoses exercise humility.

    • No one can change history because the one who wrote was anti-Marcos! Of course, they painted Ninoy as good, but he was charged with treason, rebellion, and sedition in the 70s for destroying Marcos government and created so much chaos, trouble, and confusion. Our youth were brainwashed and indoctrinated by the yellow cult since they were easily swayed ! He returned to the Phils bcoz Marcos was sick then. His personal selfish ambition was to replaced Marcos, but it was an epic failure. If Ninoy is alive we will be like communist because that was his ideology. Humility ? Imee and Bongbong went to Cory’s burial and express reconciliation even though the Marcoses were harassed and oppressed during her term.

    • I said please deink your medicine dont forget it or else your insanity will suffer greatly, change your panty its getting yellow and brush your teeth too its yellowish already pronto!!!!

  7. I just can’t get this extreme hatred for the marcoses. It has turned into an obsession of sort. It lies dormant and just out of nowhere mere mention of anything remotely concerning this family, anti marcos people are up in arms. When will we, the ordinary filipinos, the common tao, get some respite from all this. I cannot presume to understand the pain and agony victims of martial law went through, but do we have to bear this burden with them? Sympathy and empathy for them is not lost on us. You say ‘never again’ , yes , never again should we allow ANYONE, no one particular family name, to do this to us. We do not relegate the past to the dustbin, but rather learn from it to build a better future for the filipino.

    30 years. You had 30 years, 5 presidents after marcos to seek redress. What happened? Nothing! 30 years and counting and we’re still at it! WHY? Will this in-fighting, this divisiveness amongst ourselves never end?

    The pros and anti marcos and those in between can debate on issues till kingdom come, and still it will never end. And i don’t think the end is coming anytime soon. We’re always doing the blame game. We’re in a rut, our government is stalled in doing what should be done or rather , what must be done for the country.

    What about the common tao, we who go about the daily grind of living to help our family survive, feed our children, get them a good education, provide them with their basic needs? Do we just let time stand still, put everything on hold, and just go out on the streets to protest? Are we to be bombarded from all sides of this political in-fighting? Mind you, don’t underestimate the intelligience of the ordinary filipinos. I just hope that we do not become apathtic.

    I hope and pray that someday we may all unite for a better philippines for all.

    • do not expect the yellows to unite with us remember the color yellow means jealousy so leave it at that and let them all die of jealousy, mga tuwad yan mga yan kaya baliktad ang utak nila !!!

  8. Jaime Dela Cruz on

    ” A livid Vice President Leni Robredo accused the Marcos family of flouting the law, likening the move to “a thief in the night”.Flouting the law? And I thought this woman is a lawyer. The Supreme Court decided 9-5 in favor of the Marcoses. What “flouting the law” is Leni talking about. Instead of spending time and resources on the Marcos burial, the leaders/lawmakers should endeavour to change the language of our laws from english to tagalog because i am beginning to suspect that their difficulty in interpreting the law is because of the english language. Tagalugin na lang.

  9. Remember your translation of Virgil’s Latin summarizing his life and revealing his bodily size? This whole column might as well be like your translation: all imagination after the fact. All guess work. Much of the guesser is revealed in the process: assumptions may form part of one’s opinions, but they are assumptions nonetheless. However, your use of the “Surely” about how the priests were obliged to ask permission goes beyond assumption. But assumption it still is and it comes from the root “ASSuME”. Can you see an ass between u and me?

  10. michael schneider on

    The President who succeeds Duterte may possibly decide to exhume Marcos. By then Imelda will be gone, the daughter will have been replaced, and Bong Bong will be much
    older.
    Just wait 6 more years dear Filipino people. Justice may yet prevail. Meanwhile relax.

    • The President who may succeed Duterte may NOT possibly decide to exhume Marcos. . . . .
      As that would be the height of a son’s inhumanity to his father. . . .

    • Or not. . . . the remnants of that old order always have a way of coming back since the so-called “bobotante” keeps on bringing them back to power. Go figure. . .

    • jeff jaramillo on

      Yes, by that time, you can ignore the decision of the supreme court. Satur Ocampo is farfar better than the supreme court.

      Now, with these attitudes, who is supposed to be dictator?

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