THE Supreme Court on Tuesday decided—rejecting all the contrary petitions—that the late President Ferdinand Marcos’ remains cannot be disqualified from being buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the Heroes Cemetery. It was not a unanimous decision. Nine of the Supremes voted against the petitions, five voted in favor.
The High Court gave five reasons for the decision:
1. President Rodrigo Duterte committed no abuse of discretion in allowing the interment of Mr. Marcos at the LNMB as the petitioners claimed. Deciding on, and giving orders on who should be buried at the Heroes Cemetery is well within the President’s powers. And he has acted lawfully, for there is no law that prohibits the burial of Mr. Marcos’ remains at the LNMB.
2. President Duterte has the power to reserve for public use and for specific public purposes, any of the lands under public domain, like the LNMB.
3. Mr. Marcos’ remains, under the regulations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, deserve to be interred at LNMB because he was a former president of our Republic and commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, a soldier who actually saw action, a medal of valor awardee, and a former member of the Philippine Congress both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.
4. The Supreme Court nixed the petitioners’ contentions that Mr. Marcos was “dishonorably discharged” by virtue of his ouster from the presidency. The Supremes made it clear that dishonorable discharge is purely a military procedure and no such dishonor befell Ferdinand Marcos.
5. Mr. Marcos cannot be disqualified from burial at LNMB because he was not convicted of any crime involving moral turpitude.
The nine justices who voted to junk the petitions and by so doing declined to deprive the late President Ferdinand Marcos of a basic honor due him were Associate Justices Arturo Brion, Presbitero Velasco Jr, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Jose Perez, Teresita de Castro, Jose Mendoza, and Estela Perlas-Bernabe.
The five justices who agreed with the petitioners to block Mr. Marcos’ burial at the LNMB – thereby appearing to have decided to follow the anti-Marcos political line of the so-called Yellow Army of “Coryistas” and “Aquino-istas” — were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Marvic Mario Victor Leonen, Francis Jardeleza, and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes recused himself from the case.
It seems that most of those who petitioned the SC to block the former president’s interment at the Libingan will accept the decision without filing an appeal.
But some have hinted on taking “more moves.” We hope the more forgiving and less combative side prevails.
When the petition of the Marcos-haters was being heard by the High Court, Solicitor General Jose Calida told the Supremes that Mr. Marcos should be interred at the LNMB where the remains of former presidents should properly be because today there is no longer a “national trauma” caused by martial law. He cited to prove his point the almost successful run for vice-president of Ferdinand Marcos’ son and namesake, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos who got as much as 14 million votes.
But this is precisely what the anti-Marcos political camp hates.
They don’t want the Marcoses and their allies to continue regaining electoral strength. That this is sure to happen is presaged by Senator Marcos’ feats and success as an outstanding new senator.
Having former President Marcos’ body barred from the Libingan ng mga Bayani is one way of reminding the public of the late FM’s having been the “Martial Law Dictator.”
May the family of former President Ferdinand Marcos, we pray, soon be able to bury him at the Libingan.