IT WAS surreptitious, but it would not have succeeded without the help of the government.
The remains of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos are now in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, buried there while most people, including protesters, were looking the other way. But we should give it to the Marcoses for immediately slithering through the opening given to it by the Supreme Court and President Rodrigo Duterte. And they were wily enough to use the element of surprise.
The move was obviously calculated. After the Supreme Court ruled that the President did not abuse his authority when he gave the nod for a Libingan burial for the former dictator, the groups that are opposing it filed a motion for reconsideration and then planned a nationwide protest action. Yesterday’s burial preempted both the Supreme Court decision and the peaking of the anti-Marcos protests. But the Marcoses had to use subterfuge to succeed.
So where were the people looking? One, Duterte is in Lima, Peru to attend the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) Leaders’ Summit. Who would have thought the burial would be done without the President around? Two, suspected big-time drug lord Kerwin Espinosa was finally brought back to the country from Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates where he was captured. Espinosa’s return has been among the most anticipated events in the country.
As for the subterfuge, it got a lot of help from the government. The Libingan ng mga Bayani is under the administrative supervision of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), so its leadership must have had knowledge of the plan and coordinated with the Marcoses in the preparation and in keeping everything secret. This despite Defense Chief Delfin Lorenzana’s claim that he had no knowledge of the burial.
The coordination with the Marcoses must have even been at the top. Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa insinuated it when he told reporters that the President must have knowledge of the plan because he regularly talks with the Marcoses. Dela Rosa was present during the burial rites and claimed he only got wind of the plan the other day. Reporters who were there thought they would only be covering a burial rehearsal.
Reports say Marcos was not given a state funeral (thank God!) and that the affair was “simple and private” per the request of the Marcoses. But it was a soldier’s funeral so the former dictator was given a 21-gun salute. And instead of transporting the remains by land, which would have caught attention and invited a blockade, a helicopter was used.
Actually, three helicopters transported the remains and the Marcoses from Ilocos Norte to the Libingan.
Like the others who fought the Marcos dictatorship in the ‘80s, I was enraged. The distinction of ousting a corrupt and abusive leader and violator of human rights and then burying him in a cemetery for heroes is finally ours. But I don’t know how we can undo what has already been done. The most that we can do now is condemn the Marcoses and those who had a hand in this shameful act. After that, we continue battling the effort by the Marcoses to revise history.
And there should be no closure there. The Marcoses succeeded because they bided their time, executed their plan step-by-step and waited until the stars aligned, sort of. Now it is the turn of the anti-Marcos groups to wait until a favorable situation would come to undo what has been done now. History is not done judging the former dictator.
(email@example.com/ twitter: @khanwens)