Supreme Court on Tuesday junked seven petitions that sought to block the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani confirming a Manila Times exclusive.
Voting 9-5 with one abstention, the high court also lifted the status quo ante order issued on August 23 and extended twice, allowing the transfer of Marcos’ remains from Batac, Ilocos Norte to the military-run cemetery in Taguig City. The Manila Times earlier reported the Libingan burial would get at least eight votes.
The decision was penned by Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta. Those who concurred were Associate
Justices Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Arturo Brion, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza and Estela Perlas-Bernabe.
Those who dissented were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Marvic Victor Leonen, Francis Jardeleza and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes did not take part, being a classmate of Duterte at the College of Law in San Beda.
Brion, Perez and Mendoza submitted concurring opinions. Those who penned dissenting opinions were Sereno, Carpio, Leonen and Caguioa. Court spokesman Theodoro Te said more justices could submit separate opinions.
One of the petitioners against the burial, former congressman Neri Colmenares, said they have 15 days to file a motion for reconsideration.
Peralta outlined five arguments on why Marcos should be allowed a burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani or LNMB.
First, President Duterte committed no grave abuse of discretion in ordering that the remains of Marcos be buried at the Libingan, because this was done in the exercise of his mandate under Article VII, Section 17 of the 1987 Constitution to ensure the faithful execution of all laws, it said. In short, there is no law that prohibits the burial of Marcos at the Libingan.
“Notwithstanding the call of human rights advocates, the court must uphold what is legal and just. And that is not to deny Marcos his rightful place at the LNMB. For even the framers of our Constitution intend that full respect for human rights is available at any stage of a person’s development, from the time he or she becomes a person to the time he or she leaves this earth,” Peralta said.
“There are certain things that are better left for history — not this court — to adjudge.”
Second, Duterte was not bound by the 1992 agreement entered into between former president Fidel Ramos and the Marcos family to have the remains interred in Batac, Ilocos Norte.
Third, the President has the power to reserve for public use and for specific public purposes any of the lands of public domain, according to the Administrative Code.
“The majority found that the allotment of a cemetery plot at the LNMB for former President Marcos as a former president and commander-in-chief, a legislator, a secretary of national defense, a military personnel, a veteran, and a Medal of Valor awardee, whether recognizing his contributions or simply his status as such, satisfies the public use requirement,” Peralta said.
Fourth, the court found that under the Armed Forces of the Philippines Regulations G161-375, Marcos’ remains could be interred at the Libingan as he “possessed the qualifications and none of the disqualifications” under the regulations.
“We agree with the proposition that Marcos should be viewed and judged in his totality as a person. While he was not all good, he was not pure evil either. Certainly, just a human who erred like us,” the ruling said.
Finally, the court said Marcos was never convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude. The majority did not agree with the dissenting opinion of Carpio who said Marcos was dishonorably discharged by the 1986 “people power” revolt and thus unworthy of burial at the Libingan.
Brion, in his separate opinion, underscored that the President’s act could not be reviewed by the court because the issue was political in nature, a position also taken by Perez and Mendoza.
In her dissenting opinion, Sereno said the President acted with grave abuse of discretion because the approval of the burial “violated domestic and international law in relation to the obligations to do justice for human rights victims.”
She added that Marcos was a dictator, plunderer and a human rights violator.
Leonen said Marcos was no hero and not even an exemplary public officer.
“He is not worthy of emulation and inspiration by those who suffer poverty as a result of the opportunity lost during his administration,” he said.
Former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos on Tuesday welcomed the Supreme Court ruling.
“I have accomplished my promise to my father that he be laid to rest at LNBM. We are very happy,” Governor Marcos told reporters on Padre Faura Street where supporters held a vigil.
A smaller anti-Marcos group occupied a space on the street in front of the Supreme Court.
Marcos Jr. said he was deeply grateful to the high court.
“We also would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte as his unwavering commitment to this issue sustained us these past several months. Our family will forever be thankful for his kind gesture,” the former senator said.
One of the petitioners against the burial, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, said: “I am shaken, puzzled to no end, that a despot, plunderer was allowed to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.”
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said he would try to persuade the President to change his heart and stop the burial.
“Maybe the SC decision has established the right of somebody to be buried in a place called LNMB. But no court case will make somebody a hero in the hearts and mind of the people. That cannot be decided through a legal argument,” Pimentel said.
The Makabayan party-list bloc, which also petitioned against the burial, said it was disappointed with the ruling but would keep its support for President Duterte.
“Makabayan is supporting the administration’s pro-people, pro-poor and independent foreign policies. But at the same time, we are staunchly opposed to burying Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani,” said Alliance of Concerned Teachers party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said he hoped the court decision would help the nation to move on.
“We hope the matter will finally be laid to rest, and that the nation find the wherewithal to move forward and to continue forging a nation that is peaceable, just and fair to all,” he said.