Marcos Burial
Cartoon by Roni Santiago

The public was taken by surprise by the sudden burial of the remains of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) in Taguig City last Nov. 17. It was a simple soldier’s burial, not a state burial.

The unannounced internment of the body of Marcos who died in September 1989 has further incensed people opposing the move to give the former strongman a hero’s burial. The oppositors  include those who were victims of human rights abuses during the martial-law era.     

Earlier, the Supreme Court (SC) issued a decision upholding President Duterte’s order allowing the burial of Marcos at the national heroes’ cemetery. The justices, voting 9-5-1, ruled that Duterte’s order has not violated any laws and that the President did not abuse his discretionary power.

The SC ruling, though, has stirred the hornet’s nest, with many leaders and groups deploring it.

Upon learning of the SC decision, Senator Francis Pangilinan commented, “This is a horrible day for democracy. We kicked out a reviled dictator, and now we are honoring him by burying him in our national heroes’ cemetery.”

Burying Marcos in the heroes’ cemetery would “keep the wounds of the past unhealed,” said Vice President Leni Robredo.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the individuals who petitioned the SC in a bid to stop the burial at LNMB, said he will challenge the SC ruling. “Motions for reconsideration are in order to reverse the majority decision of the Supreme Court,” he said.

During the hearing on the petitions, the SC justices aired conflicting views on the issue. Justice Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro said there is no system of evaluation to determine who are qualified to be buried at LNMB. She noted that “even spouses of the secretaries of national defense are buried there.” She asked, “Are they heroes?”

But Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio said Marcos does not deserve a hero’s burial because he was “dishonorably discharged” by the people in 1986.

From our standpoint, we see the SC decision valid as it has come as a result of a well functioning democratic system. The same democratic system even allowed the ouster of Marcos in 1986 through the People Power revolution.

What is deplorable, though, is that the Marcos family did not wait for the elapse of the 15-day period within which the SC ruling would have become final and executory. Their lawyers know this rule, but they ignored it.

The Marcoses went ahead of the burial before Congressman Lagman could file his motion for reconsideration of the SC decision.

If the Marcos family waited a little longer, the public would have been spared of the incendiary rallies in protest of the sudden burial. We pray that the protest rallies would not explode into widespread violence.