Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer,  5 November 2016


On Nov. 8, the Supreme Court will hand down its decision on whether Ferdinand Marcos’ remains are to be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. The justices heard oral arguments on the issue for two whole days over two months ago.

I thought, and still think, that the issue is straightforward. Republic Act No. 289 of 1948 provides for the construction of a national pantheon for presidents of the Philippines, national heroes, and patriots of the country. (Pantheon: 1. a public building containing tombs or memorials of the illustrious dead of a nation. 2. the realm of the heroes or idols of any group, movement, etc.)

Section 1 of RA 289 states: “To perpetuate the memory of all the Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn, there shall be constructed a National Pantheon which shall be the burial place of their mortal remains.”

It was assumed that the Libingan ng mga Bayani was this pantheon. President Marcos, during martial law, gave it to the military to determine who was qualified for burial in the Libingan; the military then issued AFPR G-161-374 (Allocation of Cemetery Plots at the Libingan ng mga Bayani), which specifies those allowed and those NOT allowed to be buried there.

Allowed are: Medal of Valor awardees; presidents or commanders in chief; defense secretaries; chiefs of staff, general flag officers, and active and retired personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines; veterans of the 1896 Philippine Revolution, World Wars I and II, and recognized guerillas; government dignitaries and statesmen; national artists; and other deceased persons whose interment or reinterment has been approved by the commander in chief, Congress, or the defense secretary.

NOT allowed are: 1) personnel who were dishonorably separated, reverted, discharged from the service, and 2) personnel who were convicted by final judgment of an offense involving moral turpitude.

So, Reader, that’s the law and the implementing rules on burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. One would think that qualifying Marcos would be easy.

Marcos was president, and a Medal of Valor awardee, wasn’t he? But hold on, there’s the proviso that burial there would serve as inspiration and emulation of this generation and those still to come. There’s the rub.

Exactly what about Marcos serves as an inspiration and source of emulation for generations to come? His forcing himself on the Filipino people for 13 more years after his last term had expired? His stealing from the people (P170 billion, and still counting)? His being considered the second most corrupt leader in the world for that era? His abuse of powers to incarcerate his opponents, his violations of human rights? His cheating in the 1986 “snap” election—the final straw for the Filipino people? There’s a long list of uninspiring and “un-emulating” actions.

That’s not all. He certainly falls under those NOT allowed. He was dishonorably separated and discharged from the service by the Filipino people in the 1986 Edsa revolt.

Clearly, on both counts of a life so unworthy of emulation or inspiration, and of having been dishonorably discharged (deposed) from being commander in chief, Marcos should not be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and President Duterte, by decreeing that he should be, is guilty of gross abuse of discretion. QED.

The most ridiculous assertion during the oral arguments was that Mr. Duterte’s winning the election meant that the people had spoken, and Marcos should be buried in the Libingan. That the 16 million who voted for Mr. Duterte voted for him because he made that campaign promise.

Such arrant nonsense. Applying that same logic, one can say that since 25 million people did not vote for him, the people have also spoken: no burial for Marcos in the Libingan.

Please, Supreme Court justices. We want justice, not technicalities.