Who is a hero? Justices challenge anti-Marcos petitioners

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PRO-BURIAL Loyalists of former President Ferdinand Marcos troop to the Supreme Court on the first day of oral arguments on petitions seeking to block the former strongman’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA

PRO-BURIAL Loyalists of former President Ferdinand Marcos troop to the Supreme Court on the first day of oral arguments on petitions seeking to block the former strongman’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA

TWO JUSTICES of the Supreme Court on Wednesday challenged the petitioners seeking to stop the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, pointing out there are no clear rules on who should be buried in the military-owned cemetery.

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Even wives of former secretaries of Defense are buried at the Libingan, contrary to the position of the anti-Marcos petitioners that only “heroes” should be buried there, Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo-de Castro said during oral arguments on six consolidated petitions against the internment.

“[S]pouses of Secretaries of National Defense are allowed to be buried there. Are they heroes? Can we say there are guidelines? There’s not even a body which will determine who are heroes, who should avail [themselves]of this privilege to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Is the Court the one to determine, in the absence of any guidelines [on]who are the bayani (heroes)?” de Castro said.

She was questioning defeated senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares, one of the human rights victims during the Marcos regime questioning the Duterte administration’s approval of the burial of the late strongman at the Libingan in Taguig.

“You have to explain what is meant by ‘bayani’ … based on existing rules, laws and regulations pertaining to this cemetery in Fort McKinley, now Fort Bonifacio, because there seems to be no established guidelines as to who are heroes, as to who are disqualified [to be buried in that cemetery],” de Castro said.

She also challenged the petitioners to prove their argument that the Libingan is the same as the “National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes and Patriots of the Country” ordered built by Republic Act (RA) 289.

“[O]r is it just a war memorial for which it was originally created?” she asked.

Will of the people
Associate Justice Jose Perez likewise pointed out that RA 289 does not provide guidelines on who are “worthy of public emulation and inspiration.”

Petitioners, he noted, seem to want the high tribunal to bear the responsibility of proclaiming Marcos as not deserving of national esteem and therefore not worthy of burial at the Libingan, rather than leave it to the people.

Perez said President Rodrigo Duterte’s 16 million votes during the polls implies ratification or public approval, which empowers him to decide on the burial of Marcos.

During the campaign, Duterte, whose father served as a Cabinet official under Marcos, repeatedly said he would bury the late strongman at the military cemetery.

“Is that not a decision of the sovereign people themselves? And what the electorate voted in favor of, we will now nullify? Can you not say that it was the electorate, the sovereign people, who favor the burial [at the Libingan]?” Perez asked.

‘Not worthy’
The petitioners, mostly Martial Law victims, focused on the argument that Marcos should not be given honors because he is considered a dictator.

“A dictator responsible for countless human rights violations does not deserve a place in the pantheon. The dishonored cannot join the honored; Marcos is not worthy of emulation and inspiration,” Colmenares said.

The former party-list congressman said Marcos should never be buried on publicly owned land.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, whose brother Hermon disappeared during Martial Law and was never found, said “far from being a hero, former President Ferdinand Marcos was a despot, an oppressor of the Filipino people, during the dark era of Martial Law.”

“A Marcos hero’s burial would glorify a dictator, distort history, aggravate the injustice to human rights violation victims and their families and mock the heroism of desaparecidos (disappeared) and other victims of Marcos’ atrocities,” Lagman added.

Bound by statutes
Barry Guttierez, who represented Martial Law victims like former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairwoman Loretta Ann Rosales, said Duterte was constitutionally bound by statutes that recognize the Marcos regime’s atrocities, such as Republic Act 10368 that gave reparations to human rights victims.

Rosales and other victims, including Nilda Lagman-Sevilla, Ma. Cristina Rodriguez, Fe Mangahas, Hilda Narciso and Ma. Cristina Bawagan, took turns telling their stories.

CHR Chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon said domestic and international laws impose upon the government the obligation of “non-repetition,” and Marcos’ burial at the Libingan would expose victims to “re-traumatization.”

Penciled by Imelda
Close to the end of the oral arguments, former Interior secretary Rafael Alunan was summoned to read the agreement he had reached, on behalf of the Ramos administration, with the Marcoses on the return of the former President’s remains from Hawaii in 1993.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo had said the agreement, in which Marcos was to be buried in his home province of Ilocos Norte, was no longer binding.

Alunan said the fourth paragraph of the memorandum of agreement was controversial because former first lady Imelda Marcos penciled the words “temporarily interred” on the document to replace “buried on the 9th of Sept.”
Alunan said Mrs. Marcos countersigned it but he did not.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno ordered the Solicitor General to request an original of the agreement from former President Fidel Ramos.

Sereno adjourned the oral arguments and called for another session at 10 a.m. on September 7.

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11 Comments

  1. Over and over we wrap our minds around the question – is Marcos a hero, that he deserves to be buried at the LNB? Well justices let us make it interesting how about Cory and Ninoy are they heroes worthy to be on the 500 peso bill?

    They are traitors are they not? They are failures as leaders are they not? The country is worse off because of them and their son is it not?

    Marcos is out of sight and out of mind, if he’s buried at Ilocos or LNB, so the bigger national sacrilege is seeing these fraudulent Aquino heroes every time I open my wallet.

    So let the debate begin, should the treasonous Aquinos be on our national currency?

  2. Humanda ka abnoy on

    Now that PFEM is dead, they are all accusing him of the same crap they did when he was alive….

    ,but they forgot that it was their decision not let marcos back to defend himself in the court of law…..The yellow scumbags instead tried and convicted PFEM in the court of public opinion… it work for a while, but like every vindictive propaganda, it all fizzled out to nothing…..

    the young people that they poisoned 10yrs ago,are now full able adult that can make decision for themselves,and can see what Marcos left for the country,and people , only then can they compare his standing legacy against the very hateful and vindictive accusation that turn out to be false…..it was all a big fat lie…created by the yellow…..since then..lahat sila yumaman sa gobyerno natin…

  3. This is just so unwholesome, and unethical. It is also weird. How can someone enjoy the fruits of another person’s labor and deprive that person even an inch of distinction. I am referring to the accomplishments, the infrastructures that Macoy built, which, despite the modes of convenience they provide the people, go unnoticed. These alone should qualify him to be interred at the LNMB (a dog apparently was buried there!) Now, for them to fully express their anger and hatred for Macoy, why don’t they boycott these infrastructures altogether. As simple as counting 1 2 3 (if they can). That way, they break all connections between them and Macoy and dump all his legacy into the dustbin of history, even if they end up sacrificing all the comforts in life. Would that be fair enough? So, anybody for the taking: LRT, MRT, Lung Center, Heart Center, PICC, CCP, FAT, Phil Gen Hospital, Phil Health, NLEX, Marcos Highway (to Baguio, etc, etc, etc. And, most importantly, the Manila International Airport (unnecessariy renamed NAIA). So, what is it?

  4. President Duterte was given a clear mandate by more than 16 million Filipino Voters. Among his major election pronouncements was to allow the late President Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the Libingan nga mga Bayani. The issue has clearly become moot and academic. These protestations of a handful is totally a mere nuisance!

    • Juliet of yellows on

      Those shouting ” Marcos is not a Hero” 101 % didn’t vote for duterte.moot and academic
      Why. DU30 promise that during campaign.SC pl’s stop this non sense .they are the minority..DU30 is right,no needed for reperendum because 16 million already sign or go ahead with the plan for Marcos

  5. James Weirdich on

    palitan na lang ng pangalan ang Libingan ng mga Bayani at gawing Libingan ng mga Sundalo !

  6. Thank you! Report is objective no fear or favor! Congratulations! SC should not be bamboozled!

  7. Leodegardo Pruna on

    The Phillippines has to move on. President Ferdinand E. Marcos, with all his many faults as we do, should now be allowed to be buried there as one time President and Soldier. The ones who claim to be victims of Martial Law have to give way to the wishes of the majority. It is for them to forgive or not to forgive. But respect is what we have to extend the dead. God bless the Philippines.

  8. pacifico del mundo on

    Mayayabang sila’ng nagkukunwari na komunista {o mga aktibista, kuno!) at nilabanan ang pamahalaan, kaya talagang dapat na lipulin sila ni Marcos. Ngayon, gusto nila na magalit ang tao kay Marcos sa pagtatanggol sa bayan laban sa kanilang mga komunista at mga magugulo. Kahit naman sa kaso ni Ninoy ay magulo sila. Sisisihin nila si Marcos doon eh, si Cojuangco naman ang nagpapatay kay Ninoy! Sa laki ng kapangyarihan ni Cory at Penoy bilang mga presidente, ay bakit hindi nila inalam ang katotohanan!? Kung salbahi talaga si Marcos, ay dapat na kinanyon na sila sa EDSA ah! Hindi ginawa ni Marcos ‘yon, na siyang bukod tanging dahilan kung bakit kaming mga tahimik na mga mamamayan ay may sama ng loob sa kanya.

  9. The right of FM to buried at LmnB has accrued and belongs personally to FM. But just like other rights it can be waived by the holder. In the absence of any document waiving that right nor appointing somebody in his behalf, FM’s right to buried at that place cannot be subject of an “agreement”. Therefore, the assailed ‘agreement’ is void ab initio.
    In addition, the determination on who are to be buried in that place can be best characterized as a ‘political question’ best left to the Executive and not the Judiciary because there are no law or clear rules or guidelines defining who are “heroes” and who are not.