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Can Leni sway Rody on FM burial?

Construction materials are seen at the assigned lot for the tomb of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City yesterday. The Supreme Court will hear on Aug. 24 arguments for or against the government’s plan to bury the remains of Marcos at the Libingan. EDD GUMBAN

MANILA, Philippines – After voicing her opposition to a Libingan ng mga Bayani burial for Ferdinand Marcos, Vice President Leni Robredo wants to personally discuss her stand with President Duterte, in hopes of talking him out of granting the wish of the late dictator’s family.

While admitting she has no power to persuade the President to change his mind, Robredo said she feels she should at least give it a try.

“He knows I’ve been vocal about my stand from Day 1 that it came out. If there will be an opportunity, I will talk to him,” Robredo said in a press conference in her office in Quezon City yesterday.

“I will just present to him my stand on the issue, but I know my limitations,” she said. “Like the many people who oppose his decision, I’m hoping that until the last day he will change his mind.”

She said the issue was never discussed in Cabinet meetings.

In a previous statement, Robredo said Marcos does not deserve a Libingan interment because he was “no hero.”

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Robredo’s baring her wish to discuss the matter with Duterte came a day after a group of martial law victims filed a petition with the Supreme Court for a temporary restraining order (TRO) seeking to block a hero’s burial for the deposed strongman.

On Sunday, hundreds turned up at Rizal Park to express their opposition to a hero’s burial for Marcos.

Duterte’s chief legal adviser Salvador Panelo said on Monday only the Supreme Court can stop Marcos’ burial at the Libingan.

In session yesterday, SC magistrates agreed to give the Duterte administration until Aug. 22 to answer the petition for TRO filed by martial law victims led by former Bayan Muna party-list representatives Satur Ocampo and Neri Colmenares.

The SC justices also set for Aug. 24 the oral arguments on the petition.

The magistrates directed Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces chief of staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya to justify their orders to hold a hero’s burial for Marcos as approved by President Duterte.

The court specifically ordered the two officials to submit their comments on allegations raised in the petition for TRO.

A group called Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND) filed a similar petition also last Monday, but it failed to make it to yesterday’s agenda.

The high court gave the respondents a non-extendible period of five days or not later than 10 a.m. on Aug. 22 to comply with the order.

The SC also required parties to attend a preliminary conference also on Monday at 2 p.m.

The SC decided to first hear the arguments of both sides before deciding on the prayer of petitioners for the issuance of a TRO enjoining the Armed Forces from proceeding with the burial, reportedly set next month.

In their petition, Ocampo and company asked the high court to nullify a memorandum issued by Lorenzana last Aug. 7 as well as a directive from Visaya allowing Marcos’ burial at the Libingan.

Petitioners argued the planned burial of the late dictator at the Libingan is “illegal and contrary to law, public policy, morals and justice.”

Together with members of the Samahan ng Ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA), the petitioners explained that allowing the burial of the former leader at the Libingan would violate Republic Act No. 289 (law regulating the Libingan ng mga Bayani) and RA 10368 (Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act).

They argued the burial would also violate the constitutional provision on state policies.

They cited Section 27, Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies State Policies), which provides that the “state shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption” as well as Section 1, Article XI (Accountability of Public Officers), which provides that “public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice and lead modest lives.”

In their petition, the martial law victims cited a 1993 agreement between then president Fidel Ramos and the Marcos family for the burial of the late strongman in Ilocos Norte.

Ramos imposed three conditions for the return of his cousin’s remains: the dictator would be given honors due a junior officer, he would be buried immediately and the burial would be in his home province, Ilocos Norte.

For the camp of former vice president Jejomar Binay, the Marcos burial issue would not have reemerged had former president Bengino Aquino III listened to the advice of his vice president for the dictator’s burial in his hometown in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

Joey Salgado, spokesman for Binay, said the latter was able to convince the Marcos family to have the late strongman buried in Batac but Aquino did not act when informed of the compromise.  

“The Aquino administration missed an opportunity to lay the Marcos burial to rest when it did not act on the recommendation made as early as 2011 for former VP Binay to allow the burial  of Marcos in Batac city Ilocos Norte,”  Salgado said in a statement. “That’s why the nation is once again torn by debates over a contentious issue that could have been buried long time ago.”

Aquino had tasked Binay to study and make recommendation on the issue of Marcos burial at the Libingan ng Bayani after the House of Representatives approved a resolution calling for a military burial for the late president.

Salgado said the Office of the Vice President solicited comments from various sectors and groups, including political parties. It also held consultations with the Marcos family.

He said the OVP received over 3,000 feedbacks and comments through email, texts, and ordinary mail.

But Aquino told The STAR he couldn’t remember Binay’s camp asking for his approval for a Batac burial for Marcos.

“Why would they need permission for burial in Batac?” Aquino asked.

The former president, whose family suffered during martial law, has been vocal against the burial of Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery.

His father and namesake and Marcos’ chief nemesis was assassinated in 1983 upon his return from exile in the United States.

A military-backed civilian uprising in February 1986 forced the exile of Marcos and his family to Hawaii where he died three years later. – With Edu Punay, Aurea Calica, Perseus Echeminada

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