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Gov’t reminded about deal with Marcos family

The government must “insist” on a previous agreement with the Marcos family to settle “in a very practical and sensible” way the contentious issue of the final resting place for  Ferdinand Marcos, a group of martial law survivors opposed to burying the strongman at Libingan ng mga Bayani said.

“(The) prior (agreement between the Marcoses) and former President Fidel V. Ramos, in a very practical and sensible sense, settled the matter for all,”  lead convener Boni Ilagan of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (Carmma) said in a text message to the Inquirer on Friday.

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The martial law torture survivor added that going back to this original arrangement could temper the uproar caused by President Duterte’s hardline stance about the late dictator’s burial in Libingan next month.

In 1992, the Marcos family asked Ramos’ permission to bring home the remains of the former President who died in exile in the United States in 1989.  Ramos however imposed three conditions to allow the return of his cousin’s remains:  the dictator would be given honors due a junior officer, he would be buried immediately, and he would be buried in Ilocos Norte province.

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Twenty-four years and four administrations later, the Marcoses have yet to honor any of the terms.

Dilemma

Former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, who is part of the committee that drafted and approved in 2013 the Human Rights Victims Reparation Act, said that while the government can still invoke these terms on the family, it appears that the Duterte administration isn’t on that track.

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“The problem is that these conditions should’ve been legislated. The lesson here is, whenever you deal with sensitive issues, you legislate it,” Bello said at the sidelines of the launch of an umbrella group advocating for human rights.

The “dilemma” now is that it appears the Duterte administration does not see itself bound by the agreement, Bello added.

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Mr. Duterte on Thursday evening stood firm on his decision and blamed supporters of former President Benigno Aquino III for failing to  pass a law that would have prevented him from burying Marcos in Libingan.  He would be violating the law if he did not allow it, he added.

Dishonorably discharged

Ilagan, however, countered that by pushing through with the burial, the President may in fact be violating the law prescribing that “no one could be buried at Libingan if he had been dishonorably discharged or convicted in cases of moral turpitude, which Marcos had been many times over, as attested to by several researches, books and experts.”

“Bottom line, only the honorable can be interred in Libingan for the inspiration and emulation of generations to come. Marcos the dictator, plunderer and human rights violator doesn’t qualify,” he said.

Tomorrow, Carmma and at least 2,000 other individuals from the multisectoral group Coalition Against the Marcos Burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani will gather at the Lapu-Lapu Monument in Rizal Park to protest the late President’s interment at the national pantheon possibly on Sept. 18, or a week past Marcos’ 99th birth anniversary.

Meanwhile, Presidential Chief Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo  on Friday said that the Palace will respect the ruling of the Supreme Court should it stop the planned Marcos burial in Libingan.  Reports said several groups planned to challenge the move before the high court.

“We will always respect any decision of the higher court. We have no problem with that. As we said, we will always abide by the rule of law,” Panelo said.

In Mindanao, martial law survivors in Davao province called on the President to bury Marcos in Libingan ng mga Marcos (LNM) in Batac, Ilocos Norte, instead of in Libingan in Metro Manila.

The group, Alyansa Dabaw: Hugpong Dabawenyo para sa LNM Batac, described  Duterte’s decision as a perpetuation of “historical injustice” committed to  all victims of martial law and asked him to listen instead to the sentiments of the survivors.

Painful, revolting

“Bury Marcos in Batac where he is loved and honored,  not in  Libingan ng mga Bayani,” the group urged their former mayor.

Victims and survivors of martial law said the idea of a hero’s  burial for Marcos was “much too painful,” and “totally revolting,”  and quoted accounts saying that the late strongman had expressed his wish to be buried in Batac, next to his mother.

The group also urged President Duterte to fulfill his campaign promise to  consult with, and find consensus among martial law survivors before allowing a hero’s burial for Marcos.

But Mr. Duterte said a consultation and a plebiscite would cost billions, which the government was not willing to spend just to settle the issue of the Marcos burial.

“Just like in an electoral process, we will have to spend billions and I  don’t think we have billions to spend for the (issue),”  the President said.  Allowing Marcos’ burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani does not necessarily mean he was being recognized as  a hero, he added.

The group however cited the deeper and symbolic meaning of a Marcos burial in LMB.  “It”s an insult to all our friends and relatives killed during martial law,” Davao historian Macario Tiu said. “Stories about how we suffered during martial law would be erased and Marcos would be cleared (and considered) a hero,” he added.

Fe Salino of Selda, an organization of former political detainees, said the group had counted at least 104 martial law victims who have died  in Davao City alone, and countless others who had disappeared or were tortured during the military regime.

The group will hold their own citizens’ assembly in front of San Pedro church on Sunday to make their point. With a report from  Leila  B. Salaverria/TVJ

 

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TAGS: Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, Boni Ilagan, Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang, Carmma, Coalition Against the Marcos Burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani, Ferdinand Marcos, Human Rights Victims Reparation Act, Ilocos Norte province, Marcos, Marcos dictatorship, Marcos Family, President Fidel V. Ramos
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