Rights victims ask SC to stop Marcos burial at Libingan
Human rights victims during the Martial Law years on Monday asked the Supreme Court to stop the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB).
In a 30-page petition filed though the National Union of People’s Lawyes (NUPL), the petitioners led by former Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo and Neri Colmenares asked the high court to nullify Memorandum dated Aug. 7, 2016 issued by Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana ordering Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Ricardo R. Visaya to start the preparations for the interment and the transfer of Marcos’ remains to Libingan ng mga Bayani.
While the case is pending before the high court, petitioner urged SC to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the implementation of the order.
Petitioners said respondents committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in ordering and allowing Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Named respondents in the petition were Rear Admiral Ernesto Enriquez in his capacity as the Deputy Chief of Staff for Reservist and Retiree Affairs, Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Grave Services Unit (Philippine Army) and Visaya, Lorenzana and heirs of Marcos represented by his surviving spouse Imelda Romualdez Marcos.
Aside from Ocampo and Colmenares, other petitioners include Trinidad Repuno, Bienvenido Lumbera, Bonifacio Ilagan, Maria Carolina Araulo, Samahan ng Ex-Detainees laban sa Detensyon at Aresto represented by Dionito Cabillas, Carmencita Florentino, Rodolfo Del Rosario, Felix Dalisay and Danilo Dela Fuente.
Petitioners said the order of the respondents is contrary to the Constitution and existing laws.
They noted that Section 27 of Article II (Declaration of Principles and State Policies State Policies) provides that “State shall maintain honesty and integrity in the public service and take positive and effective measures against graft and corruption.”
On the other hand, Section 1 of Article XI (Accountability of Public Officers) states “Public office is a public trust. Public officers and employees must at all times be accountable to the people, serve them with utmost responsibility, integrity, loyalty, and efficiency, act with patriotism and justice, and lead modest lives.”
“For how can such honesty and integrity be promoted and defended when a dishonest and disgraced public official, such as Ferdinand E. Marcos, after his removal from power, can snatch respect and thereby re-write not only history but his culpability via the back door of declaring and celebrating him a hero?” the petition stated.
“The public respondent’s decision to re-furbish the tattered image of Ferdinand E. Marcos also goes against the constitutional precept that corruption, just like the ill-gotten wealth that it spawns, is never forgotten and hence the action against its rich proceeds never prescribes,” it added.
“In fact, the reverse is true and Marcos is not qualified under any law or guideline. While Marcos was a former president of the Philippines and a soldier who allegedly valiantly fought during World War II, a claim that is more a concocted self-serving and grandiose fable than a fact the interment of his remains at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is contrary to law,” they said.
Petitioners also noted that the order is against AFP Regulations G 161-373 which states that “those who have been dishonorably discharged from service or personnel convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude do not qualify for interment.”
They added that under Republic Act 289, the purpose of the construction of the Libingan ng mga Bayani is “to perpetuate the memory of all Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn.”
The petitioners said the country’s experience under the Marcos dictatorship “should not be emulated and cannot serve as an inspiration to this generation and to the next generation of Filipinos.”
They recalled that then President Marcos unleashed his brutal dictatorial by ordering the arrest of more than 50,000 people during the first three years of Martial Law.
Thousands more were tortured, summarily executed and disappeared also during the Martial Law.
Also, petitioners said the order of the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is against Republic At 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 which recognizes under the law the human rights violations committed during the Marcos regime.
“The interment of the remains of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is contrary to public policy, as he is not entitled to any hero’s burial notwithstanding the fact of his presidency, which he overly abused, and his military record, which remains dubious up to present,” petitioners said.
Petitioners also cited the study conducted by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) belying the claim of Marcos of being a World War II hero and bemedalled soldier.
They added that if Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is allowed, it would likely jeopardize their US$2-billion claim for damages against the Marcoses for their human rights violations.
“The said judgment is pending execution and the burial of Marcos in LMB could affect the already difficult search for Marcos hidden wealth and the full execution of the judgment,” the petitioners said in seeking the issuance of a TRO against the plan.
The petitioners also insisted on the validity of the 1993 agreement between then President Fidel Ramos and the Marcos family that the late strongman will be buried in Ilocos Norte.
“The fact that former President Ramos and the succeeding presidents have exercised discretion and refused the burial of Marcos in the LNMB shows that such an assertion that Marcos has a right to be buried in the LNMB is without statutory support. In fact, the reverse is true and Marcos is not qualified under any law or guideline,” they added.
Furthermore, the petitioners said Marcos’ ouster through People Power on February 1986 is sufficient enough to disqualify him from interment at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“To be collectively ousted from office for moral decadence and depravity is dishonorable enough and such political action by the Filipino is far, far greater than a judicial conviction for a crime that involves moral turpitude,” they pointed out. RAM
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