Marcos a thief till the end, say senators

Camille Elemia
'Like what Marcos did for 21 years, he caught us off-guard like a thief in the night. His burial is anything but noble. Even in death, he is a thief,' says Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon

FRIDAY SURPRISE. The Marcoses at the burial of the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Photo from Office of the Army Chief Public Affairs

MANILA, Philippines – Senators denounced the surprise burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Friday, November 18, saying Marcos was a thief through and through even in death. 

Marcos was given full military honors past noon Friday, November 18, giving closure to his family and supporters but reopening wounds inflicted by his 21-year rule marked by human rights atrocities. (READ: Marcos buried at Libingan ng mga Bayani)

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, ally and party mate of President Rodrigo Duterte, only gave a brief reaction. Pimentel’s father, former senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr, was among the activists and victims of Martial Law.

“Sad development,” said Pimentel, who has strongly opposed Duterte on his pro-Marcos stance.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon said the “stealthy” manner by which Marcos was buried reminds the public of the dark days of Martial Law, filled with horror stories of torture and human rights abuses. (READ: Worse than death: Torture methods during martial law)

“The atrocities perpetrated during Martial Law succeeded because the citizenry was kept in the dark. Marcos betrayed the country for decades; we should not allow him to continue to do so up to this day.”

Drilon said Marcos, despite having been given a hero’s burial, is nothing but noble. “Like what Marcos did for 21 years, he caught us off-guard like a thief in the night. His burial is anything but noble. Even in death, he is a thief,” Drilon said.

Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino IV shared the same sentiment, as he slammed the Marcos family’s action, saying the Supreme Court ruling that allowed the burial is not yet final and executory.

“Nagkaroon ng People Power, bumalik ang ating demokrasya, at ngayon ililibing natin ang isang diktador ng ating bansa sa Libingan ng mga Bayani. At ginawa ito sa isang paraan na patago, ginawa ito sa isang paraan na panakaw,” said Aquino, whose relatives are among the prominent victims of the regime.

(We had People Power, democracy was restored, and now we are going to bury a dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. And this was done stealthily, it was done like thievery.)

Senator Risa Hontiveros said that despite the treacherous burial, Marcos could never escape truth and history.

“Nagpuslit ng kaban ng bayan. Pumuslit sa pananagutan at katarungan. At ngayon, pinuslit ang kanyang bangkay para mabigyan ng isang pekeng parangal. Hanggang sa dulo, nagnanakaw si Marcos. Ang kanyang pekeng hero’s burial ay isang nakaw na sandali,” she said.

(He stole money from the country. He escaped accountability and justice. And now, his remains were stealthily brought to the cemetery for a fake honor. Until the very end, Marcos is a thief. His fake hero’s burial is a stolen moment.)

History will judge Marcos

Hontiveros said no court decision or executive order, she said, could change Philippine history.

“Walang puntod, walang mausoleo, walang desisyon ng anumang korte o utos ng sinumang pangulo ang makapaglilihim sa katotohanan na hindi bayani si Marcos,” she added. 

(No tomb, no mausoleum, no court decision, or president’s order can hide the truth that Marcos is not a hero.)

Senator Leila de Lima said that while the Marcos family might have followed their own wishes, they cannot hide the truth from Filipinos.

History, she said, would judge the dictator and even Duterte, who she accused of being one.

“Hinding-hindi maitatago ang katotohanan sa sambayanang Pilipino, hindi lamang hinggil sa dating diktador kundi maging sa kasalukuyang namumuno. Ang kasaysayan ang tunay na huhusga sa kanila. Ang kasaysayan ang tunay na magpapasya sa ating diktador,” she said.

(The truth can never ever be hidden from the Filipino people, not only the truth about the dictator but also about the present president. History would judge them. History would judge our dictator.)

Pushing for transfer

Senator Francis Pangilinan said he, as well as other anti-Marcos groups, would push for the transfer of Marcos’ remains out of the Heroes’ Cemetery.

“Malilibing siya pero hindi ibig sabihin na mananatili siyang nakalibing do’n. Dahil habang may mga taong naninindigan laban sa naging pag-aabuso ng diktadura, itutulak natin na ang mga labi niya ay dapat ilipat. They may have won this battle but the war is far from over,” Pangilinan said.

Pangilinan reiterated that the hero’s burial for Marcos would only further divide the nation, contrary to Duterte’s claims that it would lead to unity.

He added the Philippines would now be the laughingstock of the world, after having ousted a dictator, only to call him a hero decades after.

“Dagdag pa dito ang pagiging laughingstock ng Pilipinas sa buong mundo na ‘yung isang pinatalsik na magnanakaw at diktador ay inilibing sa Libingan ng mga Bayani,” he added.

(In addition, the Philippines will be the laughingstock of the whole world because the ousted thief and dictator has been buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.)

Senator Francis Escudero, for his part, said the Marcos family’s decision to secretly bury Marcos was “wrong.” Escudero, who voted to abstain in the Senate resolution expressing opposition to the dictator’s burial, said the family should have waited for the final High Court decision.

“This absence of respect for the SC and wanton disregard for the sentiments of some sectors (which transparency would have mitigated) will, sadly, just further fuel the protests and divisions of our country on this issue. What they did was wrong,” he said.

The Senate, after failing to get majority votes, rejected the resolution against the burial of the late dictator at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Eight senators voted in favor of it, 6 voted against it, while 6 others abstained. (READ: Senate rejects resolution vs Marcos hero’s burial– Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com