“What’s in a name? E, patay na yan.”
--Salvador Panelo, presidential legal adviser, in an Esquire Philippines interview
ANY day, before Oct. 18, the second date set for the status quo ante order on the Marcos burial dispute to lapse, the Supreme Court may decide to allow it or not.
Heirs of the late president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos have long wanted to have the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City as his final burial ground.
Since 2001, a refrigerated crypt in Ilocos Norte has kept his body.
Oral arguments before the SC dwelt on various aspects of the debate but one point stands out, if only for its being plain.
As Salvador Panelo, the president’s legal adviser, puts it, burying a scoundrel at the Libingan ng mga Bayani won’t change his being a scoundrel. “A saint sa libingan ng mga magnanakaw will also not erase the fact that he is a saint.”
It’s pegged on the fact that there are no labels separating saints from scoundrels in the heroes’ cemetery.
Marcos would qualify as president even if he’d flunk on the hero and patriot tests.
It might lead the high tribunal to think they can’t agree that Marcos was a hero but they can quickly decide he was a president. An easy cop-out, which would however dump such arguments as (1) the legal and constitutional intent of the national pantheon for heroes and (2) the requirement that anyone buried there must be “worthy of emulation.”
That’s why the saint-scoundrel argument is deceptively dangerous.
Would the SC appease the victims of martial law by ruling that Marcos was not a hero but as president deserved a place at the heroes’ cemetery?
It most likely would not end the debate but it could give some rest to what must be an extremely restless corpse.