Binay conducts survey on Marcos burial
MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Jejomar Binay has sent out dozens of letters seeking the opinion of political parties, civic groups and other decision-makers on whether the ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos should be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Binay’s office said the vice president wanted to consult “as many people as possible” before he gave President Benigno Aquino III his recommendations on the best course of action.
Aquino, son of the late President Corazon Aquino and martyred Senator Benigno Aquino Jr., two of Marcos’s greatest political foes, had inhibited himself from making a public stand, citing personal bias, and asked Binay to help him decide.
The burial of Marcos, whose body is said to be preserved in a refrigerated crypt in Batac, Ilocos Norte, is a divisive issue in the Philippines, where memories of the oppressive martial law years remain fresh.
The debate pits human rights advocates, who protest the “hero” label for a known tyrant, against Marcos loyalists, who consider a hero’s burial as befitting a former president.
Calls for his transfer to the Libingan ng mga Bayani, led by Marcos’ son, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., were sparked anew, ironically enough, in February, during the 25th anniversary of the People Power Revolution, the event that upended Marcos’ 20-year rule.
A decision will be made “maybe in a month or so, because as much as possible we want to consider all opinions, including those in the provinces,” Binay said in an interview.
But he declined to state his personal position. “If I give my personal stand, there’s nothing anymore to [decide]. We will be acting on the basis of what will be the results more or less of public opinion,” he said.
“Let there be a debate. We’ll see what is talked about in the debate…. We will not preclude anybody or any organization for that matter. At the end of the day, we have to make a decision,” he said.
Binay’s office said he sent out letters to all Commission on Elections-accredited political parties, and civic, militant, youth, women and environment organizations, as well as mayors, governors and other local leaders.
One letter, dated March 25 and addressed to Aquilino “Koko” L. Pimentel III, president of the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, and son of former Senator Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr., read:
“In line with the instructions of President Benigno S. Aquino III for me to study and recommend to him at the soonest possible time, the best option that this administration should take with regard to the question on ‘whether the time has come for the late former President Ferdinand E. Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani,’ I have decided to undertake a wide multi-sectoral consultations with you and our people on the matter.
“As one of the country’ leading civic and political leaders, may I seek your personal stand, as well as the official stand of your organization on the issue?”
Binay also asked the recipients of his letter to encourage their friends, family members and other acquaintances to send him their reactions on this issue.
A “reply slip” at the bottom of the page asked the question: “Are you agreeable to the burial of the late former President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani anytime during the term of President Benigno S. Aquino III?”
Responses may be sent via e-mail [email protected] or fax numbers 02-8312619/ 02-8312618; or mailed to the Office of the Vice President, 7F PNB Financial Bldg., Diosdado Macapagal Avenue, Pasay City, 1300.
“Please indicate also if you wish to make your views private, or allow us to quote it in public,” the letter said.
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