ON THE SUBJECT OF HEROES

The hard part is getting off the high horse

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COMMENTARY

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The party’s over but apparently the Red and Yellow forces opposing a hero’s burial for former President Ferdinand Marcos seem to be the last to know about it.

Despite the tables having been turned on them in their latest show of force against their nemesis, whom they would not in their supposedly Christian heart of hearts allow to rest in eternal peace, there is no stopping these anti-Marcos diehards from beating what is becoming a dead horse of an issue.

The protest at Luneta against Marcos’ interment at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery), for instance, turned out to be a big dud, at least judging from the country’s major newspapers putting the number of Mao-and-Cory rallyists at a few hundreds.

Organizers had expected a supposedly massive display of support for their pet cause but pictures would not lie when it came to validating claims of hundreds of thousands showing up at a mass action.

At least one photo published on the front page of a top broadsheet owes to the person who had cropped the picture to create the impression that so many share the vociferous objection of soundly defeated presidential candidate Roxas, winning senators de Lima and Hontiveros and DAP-linked Abad, among other bleeding-heart do-gooders, to the hero’s burial for Marcos that had been approved by President Duterte himself.

Despite protestations by the Left and the Right against laying to rest the mortal remains of the ex-leader on hallowed ground, they really have no case against Marcos and his family.

Legally, according to Nilo Divina, dean of the Faculty of Civil Law of the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, there is nothing in Philippine law that says Marcos cannot be buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery.

“There is no prohibition [against the interment of the former president at the Libingan ng mga Bayani]from the legal perspective and because there is no prohibition, it [burial at the Heroes’ Cemetery]can be allowed,” Divina told CNN Philippines in a recent interview.

He said “moral turpitude” – which human-rights advocates and supposed Martial Law victims raise repeatedly against the departed Chief Executive – cannot be easily used against Marcos.

In the same interview, Divina noted that regulation of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on allocation of burial plots at the Libingan only bars those convicted of a criminal offense to be laid to rest at the Heroes’ Cemetery.

In the case of the former President, the UST law dean said, “specific decisions of the Hawaiian court, Swiss court and [Philippine] Supreme Court involve a civil case,” not a criminal case.

Divina was referring to the civil case that was decided in favor of Red and Yellow complainants who had sought compensation for alleged violations of their human rights during Martial Law.

“So from the legal perspective,” he reiterated, “there is no prohibition [against a hero’s burial for Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery].

Metro Manila folk agree, according to a recent StratPOLLS survey.

The survey found that 71.6 percent of the people in the National Capital Region (Metro Manila) favor a hero’s burial for the former President at the Libingan ng mga Bayani while only 28.4 percent oppose the idea.

StratPOLLS Inc. is a privately held national research and consulting firm specializing in both quantitative and qualitative research works and analyses.

Its survey aside, former President Fidel V. Ramos would not go for another opinion poll to feel the people’s pulse about the Marcos burial.

Ramos said, also in a recent interview, he wanted an official gauge of the nation’s sentiment on the issue, adding that whatever the Social Weather Stations or other pollsters may conduct would be “not official.”

He suggested that Congress be made to decide on whether Marcos can or cannot be buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery, the legislature being what he called the representative of the “people” and whose sense on the matter would be “official.”

Ramos’ proposal is music of the Florence Foster Jenkins kind that Rep. Teddy Baguilat of Ifugao will probably not want to hear.

On April 17, 2011 during the 15th Congress, 204 lawmakers including Baguilat and Romero Quimbo of Marikina City (Metro Manila) signed House Resolution 1135, filed by Rep. Salvador Escudero that urged then-President Benigno Aquino 3rd to allow the burial of Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery.

Aquino, as had been expected, ignored the evidently popular clamor to end the political drama that was the death of a soldier-turned-President waiting for his turn to see his Maker.

Baguilat and Quimbo are members of the current 17th Congress and they are now among the most rabid opponents of the hero’s burial for Marcos, who was once a lawmaker himself.

What a difference five years make and to think that the lawmaker from Ifugao is a member of the so-called Legitimate 8!

If today’s House of Representatives, as well as the Senate, took up Ramos’ suggestion, then Ferdinand Marcos would have already been buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Of course, President Duterte has the numbers in both Houses of Congress and so the Reds and the Yellows had better look for another whipping boy.

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