SC stops plan to bury Marcos at Libingan
THE SUPREME Court has put on hold the government’s plan to bury former President Ferdinand Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani as it hears six petitions filed by martial law victims seeking to stop a hero’s burial for the late strongman.
Its spokesperson, Theodore Te, said the 15-member high court issued a status quo ante order telling the government not to do anything on the issue for 20 days while it hears arguments from both sides.
“The status quo ante order essentially is an order that tells the respondents not to perform the actions for a certain period, in this case as it pertains to the issuance of a memorandum by the Department of National Defense (to hold a hero’s burial for Marcos),” Te explained in a press briefing.
The 20-day period covers calendar days from Aug. 23 to Sept. 11. Hearing both sides could help the justices decide before the planned burial on Sept. 18, Te said.
The high court also rescheduled the Aug. 24 oral arguments over the hero’s burial for Aug. 31 at 10 a.m.
Te said the Supreme Court en banc granted as well the request of its Public Information Office to livestream the oral arguments, “subject to the usual conditions.”
The plan by President Duterte to make good his campaign promise to give Marcos a hero’s burial has been criticized by several groups and politicians, including Vice President Leni Robredo and senators allied with former President Benigno Aquino III, who cited widespread human rights violations during martial law, Marcos’ fake war medals and his being ousted in the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution.
But Mr. Duterte has maintained that Marcos, as a former soldier and President, should be buried at Libingan.
The Supreme Court earlier consolidated four petitions opposing a hero’s burial for Marcos. These included those filed by former National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant and martial law victim Satur Ocampo, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and the members of the Families of Victims of Involuntary Disappearance (FIND), former Commission on Human Rights Chair Loretta Ann Rosales, and former Environment Secretary Heherson Alvarez whose brother, Marsman, was tortured and killed by Marcos agents.
Te said the high court also “accepted and consolidated” the petitions filed by University of the Philippines students led by Zaira Patricia Baniaga, and Algamar Latiph of the CHR office in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Petitioners led by Ocampo earlier said a hero’s burial for Marcos was contrary to the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013, which recognized human rights violations during the Marcos regime.
The group also said such plan was contrary to Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Regulations G 161-373, which disqualifies “those who have been dishonorably discharged from service, or personnel convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude,” from interment at Libingan.
Republic Act No. 289, it added, states that the hero’s cemetery was meant “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.”
“It can be validly raised that the intent and spirit of this regulation is anathema or is mocked by the planned interment of the late dictator even if technically and strictly speaking he has not been “dishonorably discharged from service,” or “convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude,’” the petitioners said.
As a dictator in the 1970s and 1980s, Marcos, his family and cronies amassed an estimated $10 billion in ill-gotten wealth and have been linked to the killing, torture and forced disappearance of suspected communist rebels and political foes.
In 1986, Marcos was ousted in the Edsa People Power Revolution and fled to Hawaii where he died three years later. His remains were returned in the early 1990s and have been kept in a family mausoleum in his hometown in Ilocos Norte.
But the Marcos name carried his two oldest children through several political posts, with son, Bongbong, running for Vice President in May this year but losing by just over 200,000 votes. With a report from the wires