THE anti-Marcos camp on Friday vowed to have the remains of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos exhumed from the Libingan ng mga Bayani, as well as run after all government officials that approved the burial that caught everyone by surprise.
Petitioners against the Marcos interment, led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, claimed the burial was illegal as the November 8 Supreme Court ruling that cleared it was not yet final and that they had until November 28 to file a motion for reconsideration.
“We will file a motion to exhume and motion to cite the Marcoses in contempt. This is the same deceptive, devious, underhanded, abusive tactic that they did during Martial Law. He is a murderer and a plunderer. The Libingan [ng mga Bayani]was desecrated with him there,” said Lagman, whose brother Hermon went missing during the Marcos regime and was never found.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, interim president of the Liberal Party whose stalwarts had fought Marcos’ one-man rule, said in a news conference: “We will tirelessly work to reverse and undo this burial.”
The petitioners have argued that Marcos did not deserve to be given a hero’s burial because of atrocities committed by his Martial Law regime that left 3,257 killed, 35,000 tortured, 70,000 incarcerated, and 737 missing based on the records of Amnesty International. At least 75,000 torture victims have applied for compensation under a reparations law passed in 2013.
Critics also cite Marcos’ ill-gotten wealth estimated at $5 billion to $10 billion, on top of the $13.4 billion supposedly deposited by the Marcoses in Swiss banks.
“If they think this is closure, they are mistaken. In fact, they opened the wounds of the victims and kin who were tortured, raped, abducted and killed. This is like raping, torturing, killing them over and over. What healing are they talking about? I tell you, this will not unite our country. We will not be silenced,” said Pangilinan.
Former president Benigno Aquino 3rd, whose father Benigno Aquino Jr.’s 1983 assassination triggered the ouster of the Marcos regime three years later, said that “at a time like this, it is fitting that we hear the voices of others: learn about their stories, the persons behind the statistics, their loved ones lost to the regime of Martial Law. They should never be forgotten.”
Aquino’s cousin, Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino 4th, said President Rodrigo Duterte should be held accountable for allowing the burial.
“This is now part of our history – from Marcos and his cronies’ grave abuses to the People Power Revolution, from his covert burial to today’s protests and cries against a heroes burial for a Filipino dictator,” he said.
Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo was among the first to condemn the burial, saying in a statement: “Like a thief in the night, the Marcos family deliberately hid the information of burying former president Marcos today from the Filipino people.”
“This is nothing new to the Marcoses – they who had hidden wealth, hidden human rights abuses, and now, a hidden burial – with complete disregard for the law,” said Robredo, who defeated Marcos’ son and namesake Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the tightly contested vice-presidential election.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon characterized the “stealthy and hurried manner” of the Marcos burial as reminiscent of Martial Law.
The atrocities during Martial Law succeeded because the citizenry was kept in the dark, he pointed out.
“Like what Marcos did for 21 years, he caught us off-guard like a thief in the night. His burial is anything but noble. Even in death, he is a thief,” Drilon said in a statement.
Toym Imao, whose father the National Artist Abdulmari Imao is buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani and whose uncle was killed during Martial Law, expressed anger at the “whitewash” of Marcos’ atrocities.
“My father’s brother was killed during Martial Law, our family suffered during the burning of Sulu [in the same period]. This government whitewashed the dark legacy of the Marcoses, and we will not falter in seeking steps to address this travesty of a sacred ground,” Imao said in the news conference.
Marcos opponents taken by surprise by the burial quickly organized a series of rallies across Metro Manila on Friday afternoon that attracted thousands of people.
In one of the biggest at the University of the Philippines, protesters banged on drums and chanted “Marcos thief,” “Marcos dictator” and “exhume, exhume.”
Students at Ateneo de Manila University, Miriam College and University of Santo Tomas walked out of classes in protest.
The protesters merged at the monument on EDSA commemorating the 1986 “People Power” revolution that overthrew Marcos’ two-decade reign.