'History lost its meaning': Petitioners react to SC ruling on Marcos burial

MANILA, Philippines (4th UPDATE) – Petitioners plan to challenge the Supreme Court (SC) ruling that allowed a hero's burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Outside the gates of the SC on Tuesday, November 8, petitioner Neri Colmenares told reporters he believed they had a strong case against the transfer of Marcos' remains from Ilocos to the Libingan ng mga Bayani. (READ: TIMELINE: The Marcos burial controversy

"Nakakagalit na nakakalungkot kung matalo pa dito ang taongbayan dahil parang nawalan ng saysay ang kasaysayan. Parang nagbago ang kasaysayan bigla ngayong araw eh," said Colmenares, who was among the activists who were detained and tortured during Martial Law

(This is enraging and saddening that the people are on the losing side because it seems history lost its meaning. It's like history was changed today.)

"That's precisely the message ng mga Marcoses eh, na ma-vindicate si President Marcos (that President Marcos is vindicated). So how can the Supreme Court vindicate a person that they have declared in many decisions as a dictator and as a human rights violator and as a plunderer?" said the former Bayan Muna representative.

Senator Leila de Lima, who filed a separate petition, said the ruling is "another insulting and unjust blow" to thousands of Martial Law victims.

"I regret that the Filipino people will not only have suffered as a result of the rampant corruption that infected the bureaucracy during the Marcos regime the effects of which are still felt today, but will also suffer the indignity of being forced to support the burial of the former President on public land, with public funds and with the ironic label of 'hero,'" the senator said in a statement.

Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, another petitioner, expressed disbelief.

"While I respect the decision of the Supreme Court, I am puzzled to no end why the majority of the High Court would allow the burial of a judicially and historically confirmed despot, plunderer and transgressor of human rights in the Libingan ng mga Bayani," said Lagman in a statement.

"A high sense of patriotism and the common standards of reason and logic bar the interment of Marcos in the Cemetery of Heroes."

The lawmaker also argued that while motions for reconsideration have yet to be filed and acted upon, the SC should ensure the burial does not proceed in the meantime.

"Pending resolution of the motions for reconsideration, the Supreme Court needs to reissue or extend the status quo ante order against the Marcos burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani to prevent the case from being rendered academic by a precipitate Marcos internment and to accord due respect to the final decision of the Supreme Court," Lagman said.

Former Akbayan representative Ibarra Gutierrez, legal counsel for the petitioners led by former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Etta Rosales, also denounced the ruling.

"This is a huge shock particularly for the petitioners who survived the horrors of Martial Law only to see the architect of their suffering declared by the SC a hero after 3 decades," Gutierrez said. 

"We will wait for the full decision and weigh our options. Filing a motion for reconsideration remains a possibility."

Hilda Narciso, one of Rosales' co-petitioners, vowed that their struggle would continue. Narciso was repeatedly raped during Martial Law.

"Supreme Court decisions in the past about plunder cases [involving Marcos – he] was found guilty... A lot more cases [beyond the] SC show that Marcos isn't a hero – [such as a] class suit filed in Hawaii Federal Court, Marcos was found guilty of human rights violations," Narciso said.

"The message for us [victims] is to continue the struggle for truth, justice, and peace for the generation after us."

Youth petitioners, meanwhile, described the SC decision as "infuriating."

"Nothing like downplaying our history where much blood of real heroes was shed and pushing their names further down the margins and a dictator's name put at a pedestal," petitioner Joanne Lim of the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) was quoted as saying.

One of Lim's co-petitioners, Kaisa UP chairperson Zaira Baniaga, also said that while Marcos is a "globally acknowledged dictator," the Philippines' own judicial system has committed a transgression against the people.

"Even if the SC as an institution has sided with the historical deviationists, the name Marcos will forever be side-by-side with the names of Hitler, Duvalier, Stalin, Pol Pot and Milosevic," added Baniaga.

The youth petitioners said they would continue to educate their fellow millennials about the atrocities during the Marcos regime.

"The Marcoses may be jubilant for now but let me remind them that the youth will not take this sitting down," Lim said. "The SC may side with them but history will not. The glow on their faces is temporary."

On Wednesday, Lagman said he plans to set a meeting with all the petitioners so they can further discuss the next steps to take. 

"I’ll be calling the other petitioners so we will have a meeting. By weekend most probably," he said. – with reports from Patty Pasion / Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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