Respect Duterte decision on Marcos burial, SolGen urges SC
The Supreme Court should respect the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte in allowing the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos in the same manner that it has respected decisions of previous Presidents on the issue, government lawyers said Wednesday during the resumption of the oral argument on whether the former leader be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
After the Edsa People Power in 1986, the Marcos family fled to Hawaii and then President Corazon Aquino assumed power. During her term, she barred the return of President Marcos in the country. After Aquino, then President Fidel Ramos allowed the return of Marcos’ body to the Philippines. When President Joseph Estrada assumed office, he expressed intention of allowing Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Then, during the time of former President Benigno Aquino, he ignored House Resolution 1135 urging him to allow Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Under HR 1135, the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani “will be a magnanimous act of reconciliation which will strengthen the bonds of solidarity among Filipino people.” The same resolution said the Libingan ng mga Bayani is the “most fitting burial for a former leader, Statesman and former President and Commander in Chief.”
“The former Presidents have exercised the same powers [as President Duterte] when they decided on the freight of Marcos’ remains during their respective terms… . If the prerogatives of these former Presidents were respected by this Honorable Court, so must it be with President Duterte,” Solicitor General Jose Calida, head of the government’s counsel said.
Duterte has ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to begin preparations for the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Calida said, Duterte’s order is part of his prerogative as President of the Philippines.
He insisted that like the former Presidents, Duterte’s decision is part of his policy and wisdom.
“Instant controversy is beyond judicial review as it involves the intrusion into the wisdom behind the interment of Marcos at the Libingan,” Calida said.
He added that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) under Regulations G161-375 dated Sept. 11, 2000 has set the qualifications of those who should be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
“The qualifications and disqualifications under the AFP Regulation are so crystal clear that the President only exercises minimal discretion in deciding who should be buried thereat,” Calida said, pointing out that aside from being a former President, Marcos is a Medal of Valor awardee, a war veteran, and a statesman.
On fears that that the Marcos burial at the Libingan could re-traumatize the human rights victims during the martial law years, Calida said what is more re-traumatizing was when the victims were asked to recount their experiences, like what happened last week during the first oral argument on the issue.
“I was surprised that they (martial law victims) were allowed to narrate their horrible experiences during the martial law regime. That is in fact re-traumatization. They should not be allowed to relieve their past, the horrors of their past in a proceedings like this,” Calida said.
“There is a place for that [but it is] not the Supreme Court,” Calida added.
Oral argument is still ongoing. JE
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.