‘Let Marcos rest in peace’
LAOAG CITY—A Supreme Court petition to stop the burial of strongman Ferdinand Marcos has become a sore point for many residents in the Ilocos provinces, La Union, Pangasinan and Isabela.
“Let Ferdinand Marcos rest in peace,” was the reaction of many of them to the lawsuit filed by martial law victims to stop the burial of Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City next month.
Some, however, have expressed the hope of burying Marcos in Batac City so they could be close to him.
The debates on whether Marcos should be treated as a hero have been raging since the election campaign when then presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte first announced that he would not object to a Marcos burial at Libingan.
Ilocanos have not joined the discussions, preferring to pray for the former President, who died in exile in Honolulu, Hawaii, in September 1989 and has not been buried in the last 27 years.
But Narcisa Acosta, 63, who sells decorative house plants at the Batac City public market, said activist groups like Bayan had no right to interfere with a family that has not been able to grieve properly for more than two decades.
Marcos’ remains have been kept in a refrigerated crypt in the family mausoleum in Batac.
“I pray the angel of truth would illuminate the hearts of these protesters so the soul of Apo Marcos would finally be at peace,” said Acosta, a Negros Occidental native who made Batac her home after marrying an Ilocano.
Lilibeth Galing, 32, of San Nicolas town, was 5 years old when Marcos died. She asked, “For the sake of the man who happened to be a former President and a soldier who served the Filipino people, why can’t we just let him rest in peace regardless of his misdeeds?”
On Monday, Galing decided to take her husband and son to Marcos Presidential Center (also the Marcos ancestral house in Batac) to see the Marcos body for one last time.
Many Filipinos have been visiting Batac, hoping for a glimpse of the Marcos remains. The Philippine National Police has deployed guards at the Marcos ancestral house.
The Diocese of Laoag, in collaboration with the Ilocos Norte provincial government and local government units, has been preparing for a grand celebration of Marcos’ 99th birthday on Sept. 11, a week before his scheduled burial at Libingan.
Other Ilocanos, however, are pushing for Marcos’ burial in Ilocos.
“Martial law violence left wounds of the heart, not only physical suffering,” said Crispin Dannug Jr. of Burgos, Isabela province.
“As long as the memories and pain of the bad times remain, many people would oppose the burial of Marcos at Libingan,” he said.
The pain could be eased, if Marcos is buried in Ilocos, said Dannug, a retired official of the Department of Labor and Employment.
“Martial law is a very emotional issue to a lot of people,” said Dennis Uy, a businessman from Pozorrubio, Pangasinan. “Many have suffered physically and emotionally from the atrocities of martial law. Many have also lost family members, a lot of whom have not been found until now. Allowing the burial of Marcos at Libingan would reopen old wounds and rekindle the horrors of the past,” he added.
Uy said Marcos represented different things to different people. “He is a hero to those in the north, but a villain to most of the country. Let him rest among those who still honor him. Bury Marcos in Ilocos,” he said.
“For the Marcoses to insist on burying him at Libingan is no longer to honor his memory but to satisfy the pride of the living,” he said.
But the lawsuit angered many Ilocanos.
Joel Manuel, 46, school principal of Banna National High School, wondered why the Supreme Court should decide on the matter.
“Libingan ng mga Bayani is an Armed Forces of the Philippines property. The AFP promulgated the rules for interment in that cemetery and since the AFP Commander in Chief has decided—and resolutely so—that ought to be final and the matter should not be a piece of legal [frivolity] thrown to the SC,” Manuel said.
In La Union, Yesa Cariano, 50, who runs a canteen at Bacnotan town market, said life was better under the Marcos administration.
“I was still young [when Marcos ruled the country] but I remember life was better. Now, only the politicians are getting rich. I do not believe reports that Marcos plundered the Philippines,” she said.
Mae Rosemond Perez, 52, head teacher of La Union National High School, described reports of Marcos’ alleged crimes as “pure fiction.”
“I remember being given milk to drink and pan de sal to eat during my school days [under the Marcos regime],” she said, noting that life was better for schoolchildren in the 1970s.
Alvi Diana Poliquit, 27, a bank employee in San Fernando City, said she was against martial law, but added, “Some people I know who lived during the regime said Marcos was not totally [bad].” Reports from Leilanie Adriano, Gabriel Cardinoza, Villamor Visaya Jr. and Yolanda Sotelo, Inquirer Northern Luzon
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