MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Thursday, August 19, consolidated the two petitions against a hero's burial for the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, as more martial law victims and concerned citizens filed a 3rd plea before the High Tribunal.
Citing "time constraints," the Supreme Court en banc voted to consolidate the petition filed by several congressmen and nongovernmental organization FIND with the first petition filed by martial law victims.
The Court ordered the respondents – Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Rear Admiral Ernesto Enriquez, Armed Forces chief General Ricardo Visayas – to submit their comment to the second petition by Monday, August 22.
Oral arguments for the consolidated petitions are set for August 24.
On Friday, martial Law victims led by former Commission on Human Rights Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales filed the 3rd petition against a hero's burial for Marcos, arguing that doing so is unconstitutional.
The other petitioners are Hilda Narciso, Aida Santos-Maranan, Jo-Ann Maglipon, Zenaida Mique, Fe Mangahas, Ma Cristina Bawagan, Mila Aguilar, Minerva Gonzales, Ma Cristina Rodriguez, Francisco Rodrigo Jr, Liwayway Arce, and Abdulmari Imao Jr.
Lawyer Ibarra Gutierrez, former Akbayan representative, said in a news briefing that the difference of the 3rd petition from the first two is its "constitutional argument."
"Basically, we are saying that, under the Constitution, Mr Marcos cannot be allowed to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Why? It's very simple. The 1986 Constitutional Commission itself characterizes our 1987 Constitution as an anti-dictatorship constitution," said Gutierrez. (READ: Martial Law 101)
"The basic argument is, papaano mo ngayon sasabihin na dapat hayaan na itong taong ito, na kinokonsidera ng ating Konstitusyon na isang taong hindi dapat tularan, hindi na dapat maulit ang kanyang ginawa, ay biglang hihirangin natin bilang bayani at hahayaan nating ilibing sa Libingan ng mga Bayani?" he added.
(How can you now say that we should allow this person, considered by the Constitution as someone who should not be emulated, whose actions should never be repeated, to be hailed as a hero and allowed to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani?)
He said the latest petition "expands the context of the discussions" of the Marcos hero's burial to "a matter that actually hits at the heart of our current constitutional order, and our current systems of laws, and our current Republic." (READ: History and law go against Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani)
Gutierrez said the petition also cites "numerous other laws and pronouncements of the Supreme Court in multiple cases that Marcos is a criminal, he is a plunderer, he is a human rights violator," as well as international law. (READ: #NeverAgain: Martial Law stories young people need to hear)
He said Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation Act explicitly deemed Marcos as a human rights violator whose victims would be compensated with money from his ill-gotten wealth recovered by the government.
"Ito ay isang attempt na i-rewrite ang ating kasaysayan...at pabanguhin ang kanyang pangalan (This is an attempt to rewrite our history...and deodorize Marcos' name)," Gutierrez said.
'Supreme injustice to the living'
The petitioners said a hero's burial for Marcos would be a "supreme injustice to the living" that would crown his regime of human rights abuses and plunder.
"The dead may bury their own dead, but the darkest decades in our nation's history must not culminate in the supreme injustice to the living. To honor a dictator is to dishonor his victims. To bury him at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is to honor a plunderer and a thief found guilty of ill-gotten wealth by this Honorable Court," said Rosales, a martial law victim, reading from the petition.
The other petitioners took turns narrating their ordeal during the Marcos regime, among them Narciso, who said she was repeatedly raped and tortured in detention by military officials and soldiers. (READ: Worse than death: Torture methods during martial law)
She said one reason why she had survived the harrowing experience was to live to keep the late dictator from being buried in the heroes' shrine.
Aguilar said she and her husband had to go underground when martial law was declared as they were wanted by authorities. They were forced to leave their one-and-a-half month son with her parents to protect him. He was already 17 when they met again. Her husband was killed in 1981.
Aguilar said she was arrested in 1984 and though she was not physically tortured, the psychological abuse she suffered was just as devastating.
"You see how Marcos destroyed lives. Kahit hindi ako physically tortured, kung anong effect sa buhay ko, sa buhay ng anak ko, sa buhay ng parents ko, sa buhay ng pamilya ko. Napakasama ng dictatorship kaya napakasaya ko nang bumalik ang demokrasya. Hindi natin puwedeng payagang mailibing si Marcos sa Libingan ng mga Bayani.... Berdugo siya, masama siyang tao," she said.
(You see how Marcos destroyed lives. I wasn't physically tortured but look at the effect on my life, my child, my parents, my family. The dictatorship was pure evil so I was so happy when democracy was restored. We cannot allow Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani....He's a killer; an evil person.)
'You can break your promise'
Imao – son of the late National Artist Abdulmari Imao who is buried at the heroes' cemetery – appealed to the President to listen to them, and consider their plea.
"Our appeal to President Duterte is the Marcos burial is a promise you can break. Whose hearts will you break if you don't go through with it? It's only the Marcoses'," he said.
If the President goes through with the plan, he would break the hearts of far more people, including the tens of thousands of victims and families of the Marcos regime and their supporters, he said.
"If we will just break it down to common sense, it's very easy: no to a Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani," Imao said.
Asked what the petitioners would do if they lose the case, Maglipon said what is important is to remind Filipinos, especially the younger generation, of the horrors and abuses of the Marcos regime.
"Whether we succeed or not, not as important as getting a chance to reveal the sins of the past. We went through a harrowing time...but it seems we did not share this experience enough with many more, especially those who came after. What is important to me is to let our nation know again what we went through, what this country went through, and what justice requires," Maglipon said.
According to Amnesty International, about 70,000 people were imprisoned while 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed during Martial Law from 1972 to 1981. – Rappler.com