Burying the late former president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery for Heroes) sends a message of injustice, lawmakers said on Monday.
A special casket that had been readied for Marcos by his family was shown on an ABS-CBN news program on Monday.
Deputy Speaker Romero Quimbo of Marikina City (Metro Manila), Tom Villarin of Akbayan party-list and Carlos Isagani Zarate of Bayan party-list were reacting to President Rodrigo Duterte ordering the Armed Forces of the Philippines to prepare for Marcos’ burial on September 18.
“This Marcos burial [at the Libingan ng mga Bayani]is not a simple issue. This would not bring peace to our country. This is not about his right to be buried there. The thousands of people who fell victim during martial law and the Marcoses’ ill-gotten wealth, which is yet to be returned to the people, should take precedence,” Quimbo, a lawyer, told reporters.
He was referring to the around 76,000 of the victims of torture and other human rights abuses during military rule who are still awaiting remuneration under the Marcos compensation law.
The estimated ill-gotten wealth of the Marcoses is also at $10 billion dollars but the Presidential Commission on Good Government was able to recover only $4 billion of it after the fall of the strongman in 1986.
“To some, this hero’s burial for Marcos is just symbolic, but this sends a wrong message to those who greatly suffered during the Marcos administration which is unresolved to this day,” Quimbo, who used to be a martial law activist, pointed out.
“We should not allow the unrepentant Marcoses to use the burial issue in advancing their revisionist lies on the blood-drenched legacy of the dictator. No amount of embellishment can whitewash the plunder, terror and grave human rights violations perpetrated during the reign of Marcos, a dictator and certainly not a hero!,” Zarate said in a statement.
“It has been proven that Marcos led a corrupt, brutal and dictatorial rule that impoverished our people and nation, and such act might send a wrong message that this government is not as serious about its pursuit of social justice as it claims to be,” Villarin said in a separate statement.
But for Deputy Speakers Fredenil Castro of Capiz, Eric Singson of Ilocos Sur and Mercedes Alvarez of Negros Occidental, Marcos is qualified to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani because the law, Republic Act 289, provides that a former president can be buried there.
Marcos ruled the country for the longest time, from 1965 to 1986, before being ousted in a bloodless revolt.
The Marcos family went into exile in Hawaii and the patriarch died of lupus in 1989.