Groups prepare to block FM burial in Libingan
Helen Flores and Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 9, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Even President Duterte’s allies are opposing his decision allowing a hero’s burial for former president Ferdinand Marcos, whose dictatorial regime they said was marked by plunder, killings, enforced disappearances and lies.

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR), National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), Catholic bishops, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano yesterday appealed to Duterte to reconsider his decision.

CHR chair Chito Gascon said Duterte’s decision runs counter to the spirit of Republic Act 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013. The law provides compensation for human rights victims of the Marcos dictatorship.

“We hope President Duterte, while he still has time, might reconsider his decision,” Gascon told reporters.

“We in the commission are concerned on this decision primarily because it impacts the things that we need to do in terms of what we call transitional justice, that persons who commit atrocities against the people should be held accountable. 

“There’s also a universal concern among the human rights victims about the message we will be sending to the current and future generations that it’s all right to violate human rights and you will be given hero’s burial,” he added.

Former president Benigno Aquino III, son of democracy icons Benigno and Corazon Aquino who fought the Marcos dictatorial regime, is contemplating what he can do to block the hero’s burial for Marcos.

Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo and Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes said they share the opinion of critics that Marcos does not deserve a hero’s burial simply because he was not one. They also believe that Duterte would regret his decision.

“The government should not use a single centavo of taxpayers’ money or any government resources for that matter, to honor the one who plundered the nation’s coffers and violated human rights with impunity,” Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said in a statement.

“Whatever the motives of the Duterte administration in allowing the burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, it is certain that the Marcos family will use the occasion to whitewash the bloody record of the dictator and hail him as a hero,” he added.

‘Marcos’ US medals are lies’

NHCP chair Maria Serena Diokno also stressed that Marcos did not receive any medal for his role in guerrilla operations during World War II, contrary to what was claimed in some books.

“Marcos claimed he received the Distinguished Service Cross, Server’s Star and Order of the Purple Heart, but all of these are not true,” Diokno said, noting that the NHCP sourced over declassified documents dating back to 1945.

Last July 12, NHCP released its study titled “Why Ferdinand E. Marcos Should Not Be Buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.”

The study found that “Marcos lied about receiving US medals…The official websites of the US Medal of Honor, Silver Star and the Order of the Purple Heart do not list Marcos as a recipient of these awards.”

“His guerrilla unit, ‘Ang Mga Maharlika’, was never officially recognized and neither was his leadership of it,” as shown by radiograms and letters communicated between Marcos and members of the US Armed Forces commands, the study said.

The NHCP also noted that US officials did not recognize Marcos’ rank promotion from major in 1944 to lieutenant colonel by 1947.

“Some of Mr. Marcos’ actions as a soldier were officially called into question by upper echelons of the US military, such as his command over the Allas Intelligence Unit (described as ‘usurpation’), his commissioning of officers (without authority), his abandonment of US Armed Forces in the Philippines-Northern Luzon (USAFIP-NL) presumably to build an airfield for Gen. Roxas, his collection of money for the airfield (described as ‘illegal’) and his listing of his name on the roster of different units (called a ‘malicious criminal act’),” the study said.

“Marcos is certainly not ‘dishonorably separated’ from military service but suffered a worse or more dishonorable fate: that he was removed through the collective action of the Filipinos in 1986,” it added

Lawmakers, VP oppose hero’s burial

Even two close allies of Duterte in the Senate opposed the move to bury the dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Pimentel said he would respect Duterte’s decision as they are party mates in PDP-Laban, but personally he was not in favor of it as the burial would be divisive.

Pimentel’s father, former Senate president Aquilino Pimentel Jr., was among those who had opposed the Marcos dictatorship. 

Cayetano, Duterte’s runningmate in the last May elections, said Duterte was aware of his opposition but it was good the President brought out the matter in the open. 

“I see his (Duterte) point in the purely legal standpoint that he (Marcos) is entitled to it. He had heroic moments but not a hero in totality because of the things that happened during martial law. Unless we change the name to Libingan ng mga Bayani at Diktador, maybe that solves the problem,” Cayetano said.

‘Courts can stop hero’s burial’ 

Sen. Leila de Lima is also against the burial, saying those opposing it may be able to stop it through the courts.

“Those concerned can always take some legal steps. The first thing that crossed my mind is some sort of an injunctive class suit of the families of the victims of abuses of martial law. If at all, it will be a novel case, a case of first impression,” she explained.

She said it would also be possible to pass a bill that would set standards or requirements for those who would be allowed to be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Even Vice President Leni Robredo is also strongly opposing the hero’s burial of Marcos.

In a statement yesterday, Robredo stressed that President Duterte’s decision allowing a hero’s burial for Marcos would not bring unity to the country.

“It will only deepen the unhealed wounds of the survivors and family members of victims of the terrible years under the Marcos presidency,” she said.

“How can we allow a hero’s burial for a man who has plundered our country and was responsible for the death and disappearance of many Filipinos?” she added.

Robredo noted that those who have greatly committed crimes and moral turpitude to the Filipino people cannot be buried at the heroes’ cemetery. 

The Vice President also criticized Marcos’ heirs for continuously denying “that these sins against our people happened.” – With Rhodina Villanueva, Edu Punay, Delon Porcalla, Ghio Ong, Perseus Echeminada, Edith Regalado


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