HUMAN RIGHTS groups held another rally in front of the Supreme Court (SC) last September 7 during the second round of oral arguments on the petition against the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB).
The rally was in support of the petitioners and their lawyers who said that instead of healing, the Rodrigo Duterte government’s plan to bury the late dictator at the so-called cemetery of heroes would open old wounds.
Bonifacio Ilagan, Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacanang (CARMMA) convenor, questioned the use of the term “healing” on the issue of Marcos’ burial at the LNMB.
“Whose wounds are going to be healed? The victims are scarred. Will their scars be healed through Marcos’ burial? I don’t think so,” he said.
“If we want healing, then give Martial Law victims justice,” Ilagan said.
“Even if they say that a burial is a simple thing, it means a lot to us, because it would mean the rehabilitation of the Marcoses and the reversal of our history,” he added.
The group Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) also said it is important not to allow Marcos, his heirs and cronies to escape punishment.
“As long as the Marcoses remain unpunished for their crimes, the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the LNMB will only add to our pain, as it allows for the warping of the truth and the recognition of Marcos as a hero,” the group said.
More than a hundred Marcos “loyalists” held their own rally farther down Padre Faura Street.
No burial yet
Before the Supreme Court en banc, Solicitor General Jose Calida and Marcos family lawyer Hyacinth Rafael-Antonio defended Marcos’ ‘right’ to burial at the LNMB.
Calida said that the government does not see any law violated by Duterte’s plan and, in turn, cited Armed Forces of the Philippines Regulation No. 161-375 allowing soldiers, commanders in chief and war veterans burial at the LNMB.
Calida and Rafael-Antonio said the burial would not affect the issue of compensation of the victims of Marcos’ Martial Law.
Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, however, found fault with Calida and Rafael-Antonio’s argument that Marcos would be buried only because he was a president and a soldier.
Leonon also questioned their treatment of Marcos the President and Marcos the soldier as two different people.
“Which part of Marcos is President? Which part is being accused by the victims of human rights violations? Why is it that government wishes to take only (a) part of Marcos’ life and use it as a justification to bury him in the LNMB?” Leonen asked.
Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, for her part, spoke against the potential use of public funds for the burial, saying that public funds should only be used for public purposes.
Calida denied that public funds would be used and said that Marcos would receive “simple graveyard military honors.”
Calida added that the public purpose would be Duterte’s policy of healing and reconciliation.
But Sereno countered Calida, saying, “There is a campaign promise. That is a political purpose. That is not a defined public purpose. And public money cannot be used to fulfil a political promise.”
At the end of the hearing, the SC announced a status quo ante order to October 18, preventing Marcos’ planned burial in the LNMB on September 18.# (By Abril Layad B. Ayroso)