Marcos burial: Time for Robredo to walk the talk

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A day after the May 2016 elections, then Liberal Party vice presidential candidate Leni Robredo declared that if she won, she would not support President Rodrigo Duterte if he got involved in anything law-bending. “Kahit siya iyong aking Pangulo, kapag mali po ang ginagawa, hindi naman po ako magto-tolerate,” Robredo said.

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With Robredo’s recent pronouncement that the interment of Marcos “will not bring unity to the country,” she is clearly saying that Duterte is wrong in his decision to allow the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery of Heroes).

So if Robredo, indeed, cannot tolerate Duterte’s wrongdoing, then she should not only call out Duterte, she should also spearhead the battle against the interment of Marcos at the Libingan – not just in words but in deed, too – especially given her harsh denunciation of Marcos as a man “who [has]greatly committed crimes and moral turpitude to the Filipino people.” Robredo ought to walk the talk.

Doing so, however, will put her at loggerheads with Duterte – an awkward situation after she excitedly took on the Cabinet-level post of chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) offered by the President. Push too hard and she risks losing her job – or being tagged as an ingrate. If she doesn’t become more proactive, she will definitely look like she sold out – or that she’s clinging to her post. Either way, Robredo will be walking on eggshells.

Of course, there is always that possibility that Robredo, the lawyer, may yet be persuaded by the legal argument of her Commander-in-Chief, also a lawyer and former prosecutor.

For Duterte, it’s a simple argument: The law allows former soldiers and Presidents like Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

“I would like to say forget about the medals. Just focus on whether he is a Filipino. He fought for his country, and he’s once upon a time a President. That’s the law! We cannot go out of the law,” Duterte added.

Although not exactly a law, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Regulation 161-373, entitled, “The Allocation of Cemetery Plots at the LNMB,” is what Duterte appears to be referring to, which, ironically, was issued by President Cory Aquino, together with former AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Fidel V. Ramos, on April 9, 1986.

Paragraph 2 of the AFP regulation enumerates who are qualified to be interred in the cemetery, particularly, “the remains of the following deceased persons are qualified and therefore, authorized to be interred in the Libingan ng mga Bayani:” (1) Medal of Valor awardees; (2) Presidents or Commanders-in-Chief AFP; (3) Secretaries of national defense; (4) Chiefs of Staff, AFP; (5) General flag officers of the AFP; (6) Active and retired military personnel of the AFP; (7) Former AFP members who laterally joined the PNP and the PCG; (8) Veterans of Philippine Revolution 1896, WW1, WW2 and recognized guerillas; (9) Government dignitaries, statesmen, national artists and other deceased persons whose interment or re-interment has been approved by the Commander-in-Chief, Congress or the Secretary of National Defense; and (10) Former presidents, secretaries of defense, CSAFP, generals/flag officers, dignitaries, statesmen, national artists, widows of former presidents, secretaries of national defense and chiefs of staff.

The only ones disqualified from being interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani are “personnel who were dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged from the service” and “authorized personnel who were convicted by final judgment of an offense involving moral turpitude.”

The disqualification rules will not apply to Marcos since he was never “dishonorably separated/reverted/discharged from [military]service.” Moreover, former President Cory Aquino made sure Marcos would never be “convicted by final judgment of a [crime]involving moral turpitude.” Why? Because Cory and her allies barred Marcos from returning to the Philippines, despite the latter’s deathbed wish to come home to die. That also means Marcos cannot be tried in a criminal case because he cannot not be taken into custody as the Philippine law requires.

In fact, the Marcos family was forced to file a case before the Cory-appointed Supreme Court questioning the prohibition on their return. But the Supreme Court denied the plea of the Marcoses, coming up with the now precedent-setting (or infamous?) legal doctrine that “the right to return to one’s country is not among the rights specifically guaranteed by the bill of rights.” Which is another way of saying you can leave the Philippines but the government can stop you from coming back (aka forced exile).

So that leaves us with the qualifications, which most lawyers we’ve talked to say legally permit Marcos to be interred at the Fort Bonifacio national cemetery being a soldier, if not a former President.

The AFP regulation, being a mere military rule, could have been easily changed by any sitting President after Cory. But for the past 29 years, the rules remained unchanged. As Duterte puts it: “You know, if they had wanted it – and they were already in power at the time, the Yellows – they should have passed a law when Marcos was still in Guam that if he ever returned to the country dead, he could not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani … But nothing has been done.”

The way it looks, Duterte is not about to go back on his decision to let Marcos be buried at the Libingan. We’re certain civil society organizations, human rights groups, leftists, as well as Robredo’s supporters, are all waiting to see the depth of her conviction.

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11 Comments

  1. Pinoy Citizen on

    “Fleeing the country” is not dishonorably separated from service?

    What law requires marcos to be buried in LNMB? There is no such law. Only AFP guidelines, which is NOT a law.

  2. Ignacio Balbutin on

    FM was never convicted of any crime. Of course martial law entitled to detained or imprisoned anybody opposing and why are they opposing when in the first years of Martial law Philippines became peaceful suddenly and crimes came to halt. Before martial law we were like the wild wild west, gangs were fighting and killing every night, every politicians have their own army and were immune to the law. Thank God after martial law peace and prosperity reign in the Philippines

  3. Funny you mentioned Robredo and HUDCC… because since getting the position of HUDCC chair, I think she has done everything EXCEPT working at HUDCC

  4. Xxx declared that if xxx but she knows deep in her heart that she never won. Surely, she is just playing to the gallery, most especislly to the LP and those who propped up her “win”. Indeed, she is still analyzing if she can do a Migz which should entitle her to run for VP again if the presidential system is retained.

    • you are a big joke. how do you know that she didn’t win. you are out of touch, sir.
      present the proof and evidence not speculation or hearsay because idiots believes on these.

      everybody knows that BOBONG marcos is a son of the family of thieves, cheaters and LOOTERS.
      his tyrant father is no. 1 cheater in the past elections during martial law. a big loser will dies many times as his tyrant father but the winner dies only once, LENI.

  5. Leodegardo Pruna on

    President Ferdinand Edralin Marcos deserves to be buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani whether the yellows like it or not. The law/regulation is very clear on the matter. All sorts of charges have been hurled against the Marcoses but nothing prospered. It is the Marcoses right to answer the challenges against their persons in the same way that the yellows have their rights to express their indifference to the Marcoses. We have to stop the divisiveness and allow Marcos’ burial at the LNMB. God save the Philippines. God bless the Philippines.

  6. The question one has to ask about the Marcos’s is why did they have to go into exile? What would have happened to him and his family if they remained in the Philippines? Would he have been treated a hero? The unquestionable looting of the country as found by their guilt in International courts, the thousands of political prisoners who opposed the Marcos’s oppressive regime killed or jailed for decades. Weighing these misdeeds that Ferdinand Marcos and his cronies had committed against the filipino people for more than 20 years versus the qualifying standards that one must meet to be entitled to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is what must be reconciled. In other words, does Marcos’s credentials far outweigh what he did to the country and to its people? If you can say yes with a straight face, then this is a non-issue.

    • Cory got the guilty verdict on Marcos in International Court, as a quid-quo-pro in exchange for a guarantee the not to repudiate any of the oppressive IMF-World Bank imposed debts. “International Debt for International Decision.”

      Among pre-conditions of Cory was scrapping the fully operational Bataan nuclear power so it would never a beneficial legacy of the Marcos, to portray everything he did as evil, even if this meant keeping RP in deep debt slavery.

      Marcos nationalized power, water and telecommunications and a lot of agri-industry.by jailing the communist rebels and criminal monopolist (recycled as political prisoners). Cory returned these criminals to control as we see today. The killings and chaos, of human rights violations are in fact worse after Marcos left power, to spare anymore Filipino bloodshed.

    • Ignacio Balbutin on

      you are lying, FM was never convicted of any crime. Of course martial law entitled to detained or imprisoned anybody opposing and why are they opposing when in the first years of Martial law Philippines became peaceful suddenly and crimes came to halt. Before martial law we were like the wild wild west, gangs were fighting and killing every night, every politicians have their own army and were immune to the law. Thank God after martial law peace and prosperity reign in the Philippines

    • it was not marcos who decided to leave the philippines. the entire family was airlifted out by the americans. i think they thought they would only be brought to clark or ilocos (out of manila but still in phils). but the americans pulled them out of the country so cory could take over.

  7. As far as I am concern , it is a lot better for VP Leni Robredo to just give her FULL ATTENTION to her job as the head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council . In so doing , nobody would be against her for she would then be of great service to the Country … especially the homeless .

    Nevertheless , I suggest that she must not use her position as head of HUDCC to “campaign early” for the next Presidential Election like what somebody did it before … he he he he he he

    In her free time , she should try to find out if the rumor that her late husband WAS KILLED because he knows that some Aquino officials were involve in the proliferation of drugs in the Philippines…

    Pres. RR Duterte said : “DO YOUR JOB , I WILL DO MINE”.