Poe open to Marcos burial at ‘Libingan’
TACLOBAN CITY—Sen. Grace Poe has indicated that she is open to allowing the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani, if she becomes President.
However, Poe, who was campaigning in million-vote-rich Imelda Romualdez Marcos country, hedged her declaration with a number of caveats.
Speaking at a news conference in Tacloban City on Friday, Poe said she agreed that Marcos should already be buried, even at Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“President Marcos should be given a proper burial already, wherever that may be,” she said.
“My opinion is based on a law, which still has to be clearly understood, which recognizes the victims of human rights abuses during that (Marcos’) time,” she said.
Though she did not specify, Poe was understood to be referring to Republic Act No. 10368, which aims to provide recognition and reparation, both monetary and nonmonetary, to all victims of human rights violations during Marcos’ repressive regime.
Poe said the Marcos family should make the move to ask that Marcos be buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani.
And if there is opposition to it by some groups, she said it would be up to the courts to decide the issue, adding that “there is a law that may be in conflict with the one recognizing the suffering and dignity of human rights victims.”
“There might be some technical [question] about whether that is allowed or not. But he should be buried properly,” said Poe, who spoke in Filipino for the entire press conference.
It was not clear what second law Poe was referring to as there is no law, strictly speaking, governing burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani. But Armed Forces regulations provide for the burial at the Libingan of former presidents of the country, among other deceased individuals, and of others approved for interment there by the Commander in Chief, Congress or the secretary of national defense.
It is the second time this week that Poe has expressed an opinion seen to be favorable to the Marcoses. Campaigning in Baguio City on Tuesday, the candidate said Sen. Bongbong Marcos, the dictator’s son who is running for Vice President, cannot be compelled to acknowledge or apologize for the abuses of his father’s dictatorial regime.
The younger Marcos has outraged many by adamantly refusing to offer an apology for the abuses of his father’s martial law regime.
The dictator, who ruled the country for 20 years, died at age 72 in 1989, three years after he fled to Hawaii after being toppled in the Edsa People Power Revolution of 1986.
President Corazon Aquino, the present President Aquino’s mother who was swept to power by the Edsa revolution, refused to allow the return of Marcos’ body to the Philippines.
In 1993, President Fidel Ramos allowed the body of Marcos to be brought home but did not grant the dictator’s wish to be buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The Marcos family decided to keep his body preserved in a crypt in his Batac hometown, waiting for a friendlier administration that would allow the fulfillment of the dictator’s wish.
But because of strong opposition to Marcos’ burial at the heroes’ cemetery, the succeeding administrations of Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo did not allow Marcos to be buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani.
In 2011, the late Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero, the father of Poe’s vice presidential running mate Francis “Chiz” Escudero, led 193 congressmen in signing a resolution to allow the burial of Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani.
It was turned down by President Aquino, who directed Vice President Jejomar Binay to study the issue and submit a recommendation.
Other candidates’ opinion
Binay, who is running for President in the May elections, recommended that Marcos be buried with military honors in Batac. The Marcoses refused, insisting on fulfilling the dictator’s wish.
The other presidential candidates, Rodrigo Duterte and Mar Roxas, have not expressed any opinion on the issue.
But Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago, who has the dictator’s son as her vice presidential running mate, said last October that she would not oppose a proposal to bury Marcos at the Libingan, if that should be the consensus.
“Why should we allow something de facto to disrupt the unity of the Filipino people? I myself have no objection. My own father is buried [at] Libingan ng mga Bayani. He was a guerrilla captain. I will not, as an ordinary citizen, hold it against the community if the consensus by that time is to bury one of our former Presidents [there]. Why should we let a dead man control the actuations of the living and its new millennial generation? We should let go of the past,” Santiago told reporters after filing her certificate of candidacy for President.
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