• No grave, no justice for martial law victims

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    For relatives of desaparecidos or victims of enforced disappearances during martial law imposed by then-President Ferdinand Marcos in 1972, mourning seemed not to turn easier because the remains of their dear departed have not been found.

    Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, whose brother Hermon is presumed to be a desaparecido, during a small All Souls’ Day ceremony on Wednesday at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City, said they could not even light a candle in Hermon’s memory because the Lagman family has no idea where the remains of his brother are.

    During the ceremony, an original composition titled “Bring me Home” was sung by a band and dedicated to the victims of disappearances.

    Lagman and the other victims’ relatives, as well as young children, later offered flowers beside their dead loved ones’ photos.

    “They [who were abducted and never found]are the real heroes. It’s the desaparecidos who should be exalted.

    But not even a makeshift cross can mark their graves, and it is saddening that the principal perpetrator of
    martial law atrocities has the possibility of being interred in the Libingan ng mga Bayani [Heroes Cemetery],” he said, referring to Marcos.

    “If Marcos will be buried there at the [Heroes Cemetery], then truth and justice will [also]be buried. You heard the song, ‘Bring Me Home.’ That is the anguish of the desaparecidos. Home is justice,” Lagman added.

    Lagman of the non-government Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance or FIND is one of five petitioners opposing a hero’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani for the former president.

    The Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling on the Marcos hero’s burial issue on November 8 after postponing its decision twice.

    Marcos’ wrongful acts, according to Lagman, are deemed punishable under two laws.

    The Anti-Enforced Disappearance Law classifies enforced disappearance as a separate crime from murder, kidnapping, arson and physical injuries and condemns the human rights violations during Marcos’ rule, which lasted until early 1986.

    The Marcos compensation law provides financial and non-financial remunerations for around 75,000 human rights victims during military rule.

    It is the only Philippine legislation that deems the Marcoses liable for martial law crimes.

    “Based only on these laws, it is clear that Marcos should not be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. That’s why we are fully confident of the reasons we cited on why Marcos should not be buried in the [Heroes Cemetery],” Lagman said.

    “Marcos has perpetuated injustice and inequality. That’s why we did this [commemoration]on All Souls’ Day. Their [desaparecidos]souls are still seeking justice. It is difficult, but hope springs eternal,” he added.

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