MANILA, Philippines – Heirs of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos argued that a hero's burial of their patriarch would not affect the reparations Martial Law victims are entitled to receive.
“Whether or not the President’s decision is implemented will not actually affect their right to reparation,” the family, represented by lawyer Hyacinth Rafael-Antonio, said in its response to the petitions against a hero's burial for Marcos filed before the Supreme Court.
Respondents of the petitions against Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani – the Marcos family and the Office of the Solicitor General, representing government officials cited in the petitions – filed their comments on Monday, August 22.
On August 23, the Supreme Court issued a status quo ante order (SQAO) to all parties involved in the Marcos burial case, prohibiting them from burying him at the Libingan ng mga Bayani for the next 20 days.
In its response, the Marcos family dismissed the claims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime as an “irrelevant” argument in the case.
“The injury caused to petitioners is generic and abstract and do not merit the issuance of writ of injunction prayed for,” the Marcos family said.
“Aside from being irrelevant to the issue at hand, the allegations may not be assumed as facts but needs to be established with competent evidence," it added.
Most of the petitioners were victims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime, among them, former Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales, former Bayan Muna Representative Neri Colmenares, and playwright Bonifacio Ilagan.
One of their arguments is that a hero’s interment for the late strongman would contradict Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparations Act, wherein the state recognizes the atrocities during the dictatorship through monetary and non-monetary reparation.
Also citing the effects of Marcos' iron fist rule, the petitioners argued that the late dictator is not worthy of emulation as prescribed by the law that created the national shrine.
Loyalists: Forgive and unite
Marcos loyalists camped outside the High Tribunal on Monday to press their desire for a hero's burial for Marcos.
“He should be buried there already because it is his right. How could you ever deny that he is the president of the Philippines for 20 years and he is a soldier?” Artemio Lachica said.
Lachica also said that those opposed to the burial should just "forgive" Marcos.
“Hindi nila mapatawad. Patawarin mo na! Tapos you claim to be a Christian? Forget all those things para magkaisa na tayo,” he said.
(They can’t forgive. You should forgive him! And then you claim to be a Christian? Forget all those things so we could unite.)
Another supporter, however, refused to attribute the crimes committed during the Martial Law period to Marcos.
“We know many things back them. Those against Marcos before, they are the ones initiating it. He was not the one ordering it during his time,” said Myrna Santiago.
Those opposed to the hero's burial have consistently said that for there to be forgiveness, the Marcos family should seek it and acknowledge the state-sanctioned atrocities committed during the darkest period in Philippine history.