The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has weighed in on the issue of whether former President Ferdinand Marcos is a hero by submitting to the Supreme Court (SC) 54 pages of attachments to its Consolidated Comment including 11 documents supposedly showing that Marcos was recognized by the government as a soldier, war hero and Medal of Valor recipient.
The documents were submitted in support of the OSG’s position that Marcos’ remains that have been unburied for more than two decades should be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).
According to the Solicitor General, Marcos was called to active duty on November 15, 1941 as a Third Lieutenant under the United States Army Forces in the Far East (USAFFE). He remained a professional soldier until he left the military service in 1963 with the rank of colonel.
The USAFFE was active from 1941 to 1946.
The OSG said Marcos earned his Medal of Valor for “prevention of the possible decimation of withdrawing USAFFE troops in a ‘suicidal action against overwhelming [Japanese] enemy forces,’ thus helping delay the inevitable fall of Bataan.”
Annex 14 referred to General Order No. 167 dated October 16, 1968, which contained a two-page narrative of Marcos’ stand together with his men defending Salian Junction along the Abucay Line against the advance of the Japanese forces.
“For five days from 22 to 26 January 1942, he [Marcos] and his men stubbornly held their position at the junction in spite of additional severe casualties suffered, and successfully blocked the enemy’s determined advance…,” according to the document.
The same document, signed by Lt. Gen. Alfonso Arellano, then Armed Forces of the Philippines’ (AFP) Chief of Staff, said Marcos only had “a hundred fighting men against a regiment of about 2,000 highly-trained and well-equipped Japanese troops” when they defended Salian Junction.
Other documents submitted by the Solicitor General to the High Court included checks from the Philippine Veterans Bank (PVB) and the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) that were issued to Marcos’ widow, former First Lady now Rep. Imelda Marcos of Ilocos Norte, in 2003 and 2004.
The PVB checks were supposedly for the pension of Marcos as a retired soldier while the LBP checks were issued as “payment of gratuity pay/Medal of Valor.”
Also attached to the OSG’s Consolidated Comment was a two-page Certification dated March 4, 1986, issued by the AFP General Headquarters and signed by Philippine Army Lt. Col. Antonio Martin citing records stating that “Colonel Ferdinand E. Marcos [was a]recipient of a ‘Medal of Valor,’ three ‘Distinguished Conduct Stars’ and two ‘Distinguished Service Stars,’ among others.”
The Medal of Valor is the Philippines’ highest military honor that recognizes acts of courage and bravery above and beyond the call of duty.
It is awarded by the President of the Philippines to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and allied military personnel, including recognized guerrilla forces.
However, the Supreme Court is not expected to discuss whether or not Marcos was a war hero during the second round of oral arguments on September 7, according to two lawmakers.
The reason is that the SC “will not rule on a question of fact, that is whether the [Medal of Valor] is real,” Rep. Sherwin Tugna of party-list group Citizen’s Battle Against Corruption said.
“The [High Court] only decides on questions of law, not questions of fact,” Tugna pointed out.
The issue, Rep. Harry Roque of party-list group Kabayan also earlier said, is “whether he [Marcos] is entitled to be buried [at the Heroes’ Cemetery].”
The High Court recently stopped plans to bury Marcos at the Taguig cemetery, acting on a petition of victims of human rights violations against allowing interment of Marcos’ remains there.
Roque had filed a bill proposing to change the name of the Libingan ng mga Bayani to “Libingan ng mga Bayani at mga Dating Pangulo” (Cemetery for Heroes and Former Presidents) as a means to prevent public unrest in wake of opposition from some sectors to the planned burial of Marcos’ remains at the Hero’s Cemetery. ROMY P. MARIÑAS