Victims of martial law seek TRO on FM burial
Rhodina Villanueva (The Philippine Star) - August 14, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Victims of martial law yesterday announced plans to file legal remedies at the Supreme Court to stop the hero’s burial of dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The victims, through their lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL), will file a petition for certiorari to secure a temporary restraining order and/or writ of preliminary injunction from the high court to stop the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

President Duterte had allowed the burial and ordered concerned agencies to prepare for state honors.

“If such misdeed happens, it will be a grave injustice to the thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, illegal arrests and detention, torture and harassment perpetrated by the Marcos fascist regime,” said Trinidad Herrera, spokesperson of Samahan ng mga Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA).

“Marcos is no hero. He was a mass murderer, torturer and a plunderer. To confer national honors to Marcos is a defilement of the people’s historic struggle against the tyranny of martial law,” she added.

The group is also set to join the activities of Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (CARMMA), including the protest motorcade to the Libingan ng mga Bayani next week.

“We reiterate our call to President Duterte to reconsider his decision to give such honors to a dictator, and instead hasten the process of indemnification of the victims and relatives. Even in the sunset years of our lives, we will continue to fight for justice for all victims of Martial Law and state fascism,” Herrera said.

Hero’s burial violates Ramos admin deal

A hero’s burial for Marcos could also be a violation of a standing agreement between the Marcos family and the government under former president Fidel Ramos, according to former interior secretary Rafael Alunan.

The Ramos administration allowed the return of Marcos’ remains from Hawaii but under certain conditions.

Among these conditions were that Marcos’ remains will be flown directly to Paoay, Ilocos Norte from Hawaii; that he would be given honors befitting a major in the Armed Forces of the Philippines because that was his last rank in the AFP; that his remains would not be paraded in Metro Manila; and the burial will have to be in Ilocos Norte. 

There will be no burial in the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani.

“Those were the conditions that were signed as an agreement. I think the agreement is still in the archives of Malacañang,” Alunan said.

The Marcos family demanded to have the remains of the dictator flown back to the country following his death in 1989 while in exile in Hawaii.

“We allowed the return of the remains because after all, he should not be forever detained in Hawaii and that is not his homeland and for this purpose, I assigned secretary Raffy Alunan to represent the government and with former representative Roquito Ablan acting on behalf of the Marcos family,” Ramos said.

Asked if the hero’s burial will invalidate the binding agreement, Alunan said that being a civilian and not part of the government, he could not offer an answer on the issue.

But Ramos stressed that the dying wish of the dictator was to be buried beside his mother, Josefa Edralin Marcos, in Paoay.

“As I understand it, the president (Marcos) expressed his wish to be buried beside his mother,” Ramos said.

Ramos said he has been proposing to the Arroyo and Aquino administrations to let the people decide on the Marcos burial through a joint resolution by both houses of Congress.

“Of course, the President has the authority to do anything within the resolution and enactment of Congress of the Philippines beyond the authority given to him under the Constitution as chief executive and as commander-in-chief,” Ramos said. 

Panelo: support President’s decision

Despite growing opposition, chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo said Duterte’s decision “still stands” and called on the people to support it.

“The problem with this country is that its laws are not followed,” he said, referring to the regulations on who are allowed to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Duterte reasoned that Marcos was both a former president and soldier, thus falling within the category of those that can be buried at the heroes’ cemetery.

Panelo noted that Duterte is not violating any constitutional provisions in allowing the hero’s burial of Marcos because he is just following the regulations issued by the AFP.

Panelo called on victims of Martial Law to put an end to the Marcos burial issue.

“I think it is about time we should put closure to this. It has been lingering…it has been pestering us in the last 30 years,” he added.

Duterte earlier said he would allow those who are opposing the burial to rally in the streets for up to three months.

Duterte also blamed the “yellow forces” for not amending the rules on who could be buried at the heroes’ cemetery when they were still in power.

“The President is just following and implementing the rules. He would even cuss at the police if they would not issue him a ticket for a traffic violation. That is the beauty of our current President,” Panelo said.

“Ano pa magagawa nila dun kung nakalibing na siya (what can they do if he is already buried)?” he added.

Panelo also cited a Social Weather Station survey that says 55 percent of Filipinos agree to have the dictator buried at the heroes’ cemetery.

The survey, conducted from Feb. 24 to 27 as reported by ABS-CBN, also said 59 percent of 1,800 respondents said Marcos deserved to “be buried with official honors” as against 41 percent who said that he should be given a “private burial only.”

The choice between a state burial and a private burial for the late strongman was one of the 80 questions asked of 1,800 respondents chosen from 18 different regions. The survey had a margin of error of plus/minus two percent.

Leni begs off from protest

Meanwhile, Vice President Leni Robredo will not attend the protest action in Rizal Park today against the hero’s burial of Marcos.

“VP won’t be able to go to the Luneta gathering (on Sunday),” vice presidential spokesperson Georgina Hernandez said.

The Office of the Vice President did not disclose the reason why Robredo begged off from the event.

On Friday, Jozy Acosta of the Coalition Against Marcos Burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani said Robredo has confirmed her attendance.

“We didn’t give a formal invitation to Ma’am Leni. We sent feelers since this is an open invitation for those who are willing to attend and from what I’ve heard she has confirmed her attendance just today [Friday],” Acosta was quoted as saying in a report.

Robredo, who is scheduled to attend a walkathon in Pasay City this morning, has vehemently opposed the burial of the former dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

“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?  Those who have greatly committed crimes of moral turpitude to the Filipino people cannot be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani,” she said in an earlier statement.

“This decision will not bring unity to our 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 added.

Robredo, who won by a hairline margin in the vice presidential race against former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., noted that the heirs of the former dictator continue to deny that the sins against the people happened.

“They continue to have no remorse and still prevent the return of the wealth that they stole,” she said. “It is our responsibility to teach our children the heroism and sacrifice of our forefathers. And Mr. Marcos is no hero.”

Other government officials supposedly confirmed their attendance to the activity, which will be held in protest of President Duterte’s decision to bury Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery.

The camp of Sen. Grace Poe, for instance, said yesterday that she has not confirmed her attendance, contrary to what the organizers said last Friday. – With Jaime Laude, Janvic Mateo, Giovanni Nilles, Robertzon Ramirez

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