A party-list representative from Bicol came out with an emotional call that sounded as the most logical approach to end the vexing Marcos burial question. He appealed to the Marcos family to “just bury him elsewhere” to once and for all rein in the national division.
It is an appeal to the Marcos family, their sense of nationhood and their sense of patriotism, to let go of their desire for a hero’s burial for their father for a greater purpose – put an end to a divisive issue. Mr. Batocabe, the party-list rep from Bicol used to spew nonsense and non-sequitur in Congress. But on this one, he is right. You are patriots, he told the family. The country’s healing is a purpose higher than family glory. I appeal to you to just go for the higher purpose. We all know where he is coming from.
An appeal to the family to bury him in a honorable resting place not called the Libingan ng mga Bayani is definitely better than the call of Mr. Lagman to bury him at the mothballed nuclear plant.
On the burial issue, there is only one given. A division so deep that would scar the nation’s psyche forever if Mr. Marcos is buried at the LIbingan ng mga Bayani. [Editor’s note: The late president was buried – with full military honors — at the Libingan unannounced at noon on Friday, hours before Columnist Ronquillo wrote this column.] Mr. Marcos’s physical remains will be at his cherished resting place, true, but for him and his family that would be the equivalent of a Pyrrhic victory. Or worse, a hollow one. Do you really think that the burial will shut down or temper the anti-Marcos stirrings in this polarized country? If you say yes, you are dreaming,
You can’t adjudicate history
The Supreme Court vote that ruled for a Marcos burial has had no calming effect on the nation. The Higher Court may have had the best of intention, to come out with a definitive ruling that would settle the contentious issue via clinical arguments on Mr. Marcos’ service as a soldier. The SC, however, missed the brave journalism work of the late Joe Burgos and the We Forum /Malaya staff, which established proof of Mr. Marcos’s fictional medals and heroism.
The late Joe Burgos gained early recognition for his reportage on the two torched villages of Ilocos Sur, his home province, and the Wild Wild West politics there. But a mature Joe Burgos was the singular driving force behind the “mosquito press” that reported on the martial law regime from the context of real courage. With no FOI and a massive research staff, Joe Burgos uncovered and exposed the dark side of the regime and Mr. Marcos bit by bit. He reported big time on the fake medals of Mr. Marcos, which angered the regime, as the medals were the foundation of Mr. Marcos’s claim to greatness.
The irony was Joe was an Ilocano like Mr. Marcos and for a clannish people, Joe’s reporting was the height of betrayal. Yes, Joe would answer. I can’t change my place of origin. But I can’t change the facts either.
Instead of calming the nation, the High Court threw gasoline on a huge bonfire, inflaming in the process the already heated debates on the burial issue.
If the medals were fake and the heroism inflated, the story of service to the country and courage under fire is practically demolished and Mr. Marcos’s war record descends into the level of fiction. The main ground invoked by the pro-Libingan justices cannot be valid even on its clinical merits.
The 8-6-6 senate vote
The senate vote on a resolution that proposed a sense of Senate resolution against the burial at the Libingan was not as one-sided as the High Court vote. Eight voted for the resolution, with six votes against and six abstentions. The Senate vote was the nation in miniature. The views were divided into three camps. Eight against the burial, six for the burial and another six looking for a compromise.
The Senate vote is basically how the nation feels about the issue. One camp is passionately against the burial. One camp just don’t care about history and wants a quick burial at the Libingan. And six senators with conflicted feelings about the burial. You can see why Mr. Escudero abstained. His late dad was Marcos to the core but the young Escudero belongs to a generation that views Mr. Marcos as a less-than-mythical figure.
The nation’s sentiment is exactly along those three camps. One passionately against. One in favor of rendering a quick settlement, to be over and done with, the issue. And another camp that is either agnostic about the Marcoses or fed up with passions that the burial question has stirred. The emotional drain dealt by the issue on a nation that is in a state of flux and transition, especially on its foreign policies, is for real.
Is there a resolution in sight?
The graceful way out will have to come from the Marcos family. With grace and utmost patriotism, they can come out with a collective decision to bury Mr. Marcos elsewhere. They will be praised for that. And that singular gesture may even propel the young Marcos into the presidency.
Absent that, we have to spend time and money to take the issue to a vote as the young Angara had suggested. Hold a referendum. That would be, I hate using this phrase, the final solution.