PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte is most resolute in having the late President Marcos interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani next month for the sake of national reconciliation.
His decision is controversial, divisive even, but there’s no way he’ll change his mind. What he didn’t spell out clearly, however, is whether the late President and war veteran will be interred with state honors as originally desired by the Marcos family or with mere military honors. This issue may generate another round of debate.
Both state and military honors involve the assignment of honor guards, the draping of the coffin with the Philippine flag, the gun salute and the playing of the taps. A state funeral, held to honor persons of national significance, involves stricter rules of protocol, the flying of the flag at half-mast and even the declaration of a national day of mourning.
The following former presidents were given state funerals: Manuel L. Quezon, Elpidio Quirino, Ramon Magsaysay Sr., Sergio Osmena Sr., Emilio Aguinaldo and Diosdado Macapagal.
The only non-Presidents given state honors were former Foreign Affairs Secretaries Carlos P. Romulo and Blas F. Ople, national scientist Perla Ocampo and DILG Secretary Jesse Robredo.
Will Marcos be the next one to be interred with state honors?
In 2011, then Vice President Jejomar Binay recommended to President BS Aquino that Marcos be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani but with military honors only. Former First Lady Imelda R. Marcos, who had been lobbying for her late husband’s interment at the cemetery for heroes, was dissatisfied with Binay’s recommendation and wanted no less than state honors.
All came to naught because BS Aquino eventually refused to allow Marcos’ interment at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Will the Marcos family plead to Mr. Duterte that the late strongman be buried with state honors? And will the President agree?
This new controversy would not have come about if only the Marcoses had complied with the terms set by President Fidel V. Ramos. FVR allowed the return of FM’s remains from Hawaii provided he’d be buried immediately in Batac, Ilocos Norte. To this day, his remains lie in a refrigerated crypt in Batac, his hometown.
No military honors were given when FM’s body arrived at the NAIA on Sept. 7, 1993.
Note also that on June 23, 1998, with just a week left in his term, FVR stopped work for FM’s burial at the Libingan ordered by Gen. Fortunato Abat.
On his inauguration on June 30, 1998, President Erap Estrada announced his approval of FM’s burial at the Libingan. He backtracked later on because of strong opposition from church leaders and Martial Law victims.
The political situation has changed since then. In the 15th Congress, 219 congressmen signed House Resolution No. 1135 authored by the late Rep. Sonny Escudero signifying the sense of the House that FM deserved to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The most convincing indicator that the political wind has changed is the election of Bongbong Marcos as senator in 2010. His win showed that the Marcos name was no longer a negative issue nationwide. He’s now waging a strong protest over his defeat by Vice President Leni Robredo in the elections last May.
The support given by the very popular President Duterte should galvanize more public acceptance of FM’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Should SWS conduct a survey on whether FM deserved to be buried there, it should surprise no one if majority of the Filipino people agree.
So next month, FM’s remains will join about 49,000 veterans, soldiers, former Presidents, former chiefs of staff and national heroes at the 103-hectare Libingan ng mga Bayani.
But, will it be with state honors? Abangan!