WHETHER or not the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. deserved to be buried among the war dead and other heroes has become one of the country’s most divisive issues.
It has divided even the Supreme Court (SC), which found no legal basis last week to prevent Marcos’s burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“Ferdinand E. Marcos is no hero. He was not even an exemplary public officer,” wrote Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, one of five justices who voted to grant the petitions that tried to stop the burial. Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno was among the five.
Instead of silencing his critics, the burial of Marcos, 27 years after his death, has revived efforts to assess the impact of the Martial Law years.
Marcos, Leonen wrote in his dissenting opinion, “is not worthy of emulation and inspiration by those who suffer poverty as a result of the opportunity lost during his administration, by those who continue to suffer the trauma of the violations to the human dignity of their persons and of their families. He is certainly not worthy of emulation and inspiration by those in public service, including the lawyers, judges, and justices who simply want to do what is right, protect others, and conscientiously and diligently protect public funds entrusted to them.”
Burying Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani would not only violate the 1987 Constitution, Leonen explained. It is also “a betrayal of the Filipino spirit.
Here are the highlights of that dissenting opinion:
(1) President Rodrigo Duterte’s verbal order last July 11, which led to the orders from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Rear Admiral Ernesto Enriquez last Aug. 7 and 9, respectively, to prepare for the burial, violate Republic Act 289.
(2) The orders violate the requirement in Section 1 of RA 289 that those buried in the Libingan “must have led lives worthy of inspiration and emulation.”
“Our jurisprudence clearly shows that Ferdinand E. Marcos does not even come close to being one who will inspire. His example should not be emulated by this generation, or by generations yet to come,” Leonen wrote.
In no fewer than nine decisions and nine opinions, he pointed out, the Supreme Court had previously characterized Marcos as an authoritarian. The Court called him a dictator in 19 decisions and 16 opinions.
“This Court has also declared that the amount of US$658,175,373.60, in Swiss deposits under the name of the Marcoses, was ill-gotten wealth that should be forfeited in favor of the State,” the associate justice wrote.
The dissenting opinion quotes several decisions that weighed in on how Martial Law harmed Filipinos, decisions that described “acts of torture, summary execution, disappearance, arbitrary detention, and numerous other atrocities.”
(3) Leonen also thinks the public respondents “gravely abused their discretion” when they failed to show that they had weighed the facts to see if there was enough basis to bury Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He described the orders to prepare for the burial as “whimsical, capricious, and an abuse of discretion,” and said that these “could have been done only to accommodate the private interest of the heirs of Marcos.”
(4) The order to bury Marcos among heroes and patriots also violated Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition of Act, which provided for the creation of a Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board and “for the process of recognition of Martial Law victims.”
(5) The orders to prepare for the burial cannot be justified under the Administrative Code of 1987, as “there is no public purpose” for burying Marcos among the war dead.
“The other possible purpose stated by the Solicitor General is to achieve the ambiguous goal of national healing. During the Oral Arguments, the Solicitor General argued that the aim of the burial is to achieve ‘changing the national psyche and beginning the painful healing of this country.’ In doing so, however, respondents rewrite our history to erase the remembrance of Ferdinand E. Marcos as a symbol of the atrocities committed to many of our People. It is an attempt to forget that he was a human rights violator, a dictator, and a plunderer, in the name of ‘national healing’ and at the cost of repetition of the same acts in this or future generations.”