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Nene’s suggestion: ‘Libingan ng mga Bayani at iba pa’

The cemetery could be renamed into “Libingan ng mga Bayani at iba pa,” as President Duterte is bent on allowing the burial of the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan.

Former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. on Wednesday reiterated his proposal to add “at iba pa” (and others) to Libingan in Taguig City.

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Pimentel said in a phone interview that the “at iba pa” referred to Marcos alone, because of the “cruelty of his martial law government.”

Pimentel, however, maintained that the dictator should be buried in Paoay or in Batac, Ilocos Norte, “where he is loved by the people.”

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“As Rizal said, ‘El sitio nada importa.’ It is what one does in life that matters; not where he or she is buried,” said Pimentel, who was incarcerated on four different occasions during the Marcos dictatorship.

As a martial law victim, Pimentel pointed out why Marcos “does not deserve to be buried” at Libingan.

Fallen on deaf ears

“He is no hero. He has misused his power when he [put the country under] martial rule and has caused the disappearance of so many people, the deaths of so many people opposing the martial law regime and the torture of innumerable detainees,” he said.

An opposition lawmaker’s appeal to Mr. Duterte’s closest allies to talk him out of his decision to bury Marcos at Libingan appeared to have fallen on deaf ears, as Pimentel said he had no plan to talk him out of his decision.

“No, I don’t intend to talk [to the President], but I’m opposed to it,” said Pimentel, a founding member and chair emeritus of the anti-Marcos Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan, the political vehicle used by Mr. Duterte to run in the 2016 elections.

While Pimentel is one of the top leaders of the President’s party, he maintained that he had “no access” to Mr. Duterte, “contrary to the misimpression people might have.”

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Sought for comment on Mr. Duterte’s decision, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who turned down a Marcos burial at Libingan during her term because of strong public opposition, implied her support to the President’s plan.

“Let me just say that as a strategic direction, I believe that we should support the administration’s initiatives,” Arroyo said yesterday in a chance interview after she donated two dialysis machines to Veterans Memorial Medical Center.

Militant allies of Mr.  Duterte have filed a House resolution opposing his order allowing the burial of Marcos at Libingan.

Grave travesty

In Resolution No. 197, the Makabayan bloc called a burial of Marcos at Libingan a “grave travesty and monumental, historical distortion tantamount to declaring a dictator a hero.”

Other groups are adding their voices to those against Marcos’ burial at Libingan.

In Naga City, Closure, a group of professionals, said Libingan was the final resting place of the country’s heroes and patriots “for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn,” citing a provision of Republic Act No. 289.

“Marcos gives a lie to all the characteristics of a ‘bayani’ (hero) as someone who establishes, nurtures, stabilizes, protects and maintains nationhood,” it said.

Closure includes members of the academe, lawyers, clergy and writers, said Paz Verdadez Santos, a retired university professor, book author and one of the group’s convenors.

No healing

In a press conference, Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said there would be healing if the Marcoses were made to pay for their abuses.

Zarate said that as long as the Marcoses refused to apologize for their atrocities and return their loot to the government, their sins would not be buried along with their patriarch.

He feared that a hero’s burial for Marcos would send an “absurd message” that the Edsa People Power Revolution overthrew a “hero” and that the international sympathy the country received was misplaced.

Defenses

The Makabayan bloc said that three decades after Marcos was kicked out of power, the public had yet to forget the human rights violations under his regime―3,257 killed, 35,000 tortured, 70,000 incarcerated and 737 Filipinos “disappeared” from 1976 to 1983.

Aside from Zarate,  the resolution was signed by Gabriela Representatives Emmi de Jesus and Arlene Brosas, ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro, Kabataan Rep. Sarah Jane Elago and Anakpawis Rep. Ariel B. Casilao.

In Iloilo City, Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor and victims of the Marcos dictatorship reiterated their opposition to the burial of the late dictator at Libingan.

“I don’t join the President in the burial of President Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani,” Defensor, one of those who fought the dictatorship, told reporters.

Former political detainees, who were imprisoned and tortured during martial law, said they would also campaign against the plan of the President.

“He deserves no recognition because he will always be a dictator to me,” said Fortunato Pelaez, vice chair of Samahan ng mga ex-detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto.  With reports from Juan Escandor Jr., Inquirer Southern Luzon; and Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas

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