Defense chief: Marcos to be buried as a soldier, not as a ‘hero’
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has said the burial of ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani will just be similar to other funerals for dead soldiers and that he will not be treated as a national hero.
Lorenzana made this statement last Friday, as he admitted that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has prepared a 21-gun salute ceremony for the former president whose legacy has been either lauded or maligned, depending on the side of the political fence.
“It will be a normal funeral,” he said, adding that the full military honors have also been given to other slain soldiers.
In the Philippines, the AFP uses the 21-gun salute in such events as the inauguration of the president, death of a top military official, death of a former president or courtesy calls of foreign leaders during their state visits.
The three-volley gun salute are also accorded to low-ranking military officials and soldiers who died heroically in combat.
But Marcos’ claims of being a war-time hero had already been refuted.
The US Army said that Marcos’ claims he had led a guerrilla resistance unit during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines were both “fraudulent” and “absurd.”
Marcos had always portrayed himself as a hero – to the extent of being given a Medal of Valor.
But US Army documents, which had been archived for years but made public in 1986, said investigators found no evidence that Marcos once headed a band of guerrillas known as Ang Mga Maharlika (The Royals) between 1942 to 1944.
The documents were discovered by Alfred W. McCoy, a historian who was researching a book on World War II in the Philippines.
Ferdinand Marcos, however, was never stripped of the Medal of Valor, and former first lady Imelda Marcos continues to get pension as the widow of a World War II veteran and a Medal of Valor awardee.
Marcos himself had protested over the findings from US Army documents, saying “a grave injustice has been committed against many officers and men” of his unit but the US Army maintained its findings.
President Duterte had said his basis for allowing a Libingan burial for Marcos was his status as a former president.
Parrying criticisms Marcos had been ousted, Duterte said the former president was also a soldier and the Libingan guidelines said soldiers and presidents could be buried there.
He said the law that allowed the burial of presidents and soldiers at the Libingan had not set any precondition.
“The law is the law. It has no emotions at all. It says that if you are a President (you can be buried there). It does not say you have a record of a dictatorship or what not, or being a gentle despot. It does not say anything like that,” Duterte repeated in Davao City on Friday, where he spoke at an event recognizing the humanitarian deeds of his late mother, Soledad Duterte.
Lorenzana, who attended a gathering of veterans here on Friday, also said that the government’s only involvement in the Marcos burial was according him the rifle party and securing the Libingan premises from protesters.
“Even if Marcos will not be buried there, we will still secure it [LNMB],” he added.
Lorenzana said the 21-gun salute would be executed by a seven-man team, who would fire three shots each in succession.
As to the other burial arrangements, he said the Marcoses were taking charge of it.
Lorenzana said all the necessary arrangements had already been done for Marcos’ burial at the Libingan, including the excavation of the grave. Only the date was being finalized.
The Communist Party of the Philippines, one of the strongest allies of President Duterte, advised him against Marcos’ burial at the Libingan.
“President Duterte must be advised against proceeding with such a plan. Such payment of political debt to the Marcoses will undoubtedly be regarded as an act of contempt against the Filipino people’s historic judgment against the Marcos dictatorship,” the CPP said in a statement.
Despite its good relations with Duterte, the CPP openly denounced the Supreme Court’s decision favoring a Libingan burial for Marcos.
“In giving Marcos a hero’s burial, he would virtually be spitting on the graves of the tens of thousands of martyrs who laid down their lives in the struggle to end the puppet, brutal and rotten Marcos dictatorship,” the CPP said.
Duterte had said he was not honoring Marcos as a hero but a soldier and a former president.
“The law said that soldiers and president could be buried there,” Duterte said.
The CPP said Duterte “will bring to question his own assertions of being a Leftist considering that the Marcos dictatorship is the epitome of the anti-Left.”
“The CPP advises GRP (Government of the Republic of the Philippines) President Duterte against fulfilling such an election promise to the Marcoses made in exchange for financial and political support. For sure, the Marcoses would resent such an unfulfilled promise. But such will be incomparable to the deep indignation that will be stirred among the Filipino people,” the CPP said.
The CPP also said that to this day, Filipino people have continued seeking justice for all the crimes committed by Marcos including his wife, children and cronies “who all invariably played nefarious roles under the Marcos dictatorship.”
“If Duterte allows Marcos’ body to be dug up from Ilocos Norte and re-interred with hero’s burial, he would have provided the Marcoses with the ultimate act of rehabilitation,” the CPP said.
(Marcos body has been placed in an airconditioned glass coffin inside a mausoleum in Ilocos Norte. There have been speculations that the actual remains have been buried and the body seen in the glass case is a wax figure.) SFM
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