Ahead of SC decision, Martial Law victims 'pray for 8' votes

MANILA, Philippines – With the hashtag #PrayForEight, petitioners opposing the hero's burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos hope, at the very least, that 8 magistrates will vote in their favor as the Supreme Court (SC) deliberates over the issue on Tuesday, October 18.

"A vote of 8 will mean Marcos shall not be recognized a hero. Less than 8, or even a 7-7 tie will mean it is a go," the group of petitioners, led by former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Etta Rosales, said in a statement released Monday, October 17.

The petitioners, mostly victims of human rights violations during Martial Law, expect the SC to release its decision on Tuesday when the status quo ante order expires.

Lawyer Concep Mendoza said they "did their best" in presenting their arguments before the high court. "We are just hopeful that the [SC] will stand with us on this matter."

Even former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares, a legal counsel and petitioner in a separate plea versus the planned burial, expressed optimism as they have a "strong argument."

"The Constitution, public policy, and various laws disallow a Marcos burial [at the Libingan ng mga Bayani] so we expect the Supreme Court to rule in our favor and void the order allowing his interment," Colmenares, himself a Martial Law victim, said in a statement. (READ: SC orals on Marcos burial: Issues and answers

Extend hold order

Mendoza, however, called on the SC to consider extending the status quo ante order because of the manifestations they submitted last Friday regarding President Rodrigo Duterte's statement that Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos donated money to his campaign funds.

Governor Marcos has since denied Duterte's claim, saying that the President often makes jokes.

"We are requesting that the SC take into account the admission made by President Duterte regarding the contribution of Governor Marcos [and] require the [Commission on Elections] to submit their written comment on this matter and pending the comment that the SC extend the status quo ante order," Mendoza said.

Aside from that, the victims' lawyer is also asking the tribunal to strike down the Marcos supporters' manifestation of one million signatures calling for a hero's burial.

Mendoza pointed out that they were never given a copy of this manifestation and that the call for signatures was done online through the website change.org, which does not have a policy on verifying respondents.

Fight will continue

But should the SC rule in favor of Marcos' burial at the national shrine, the petitioners said their call for justice will not stop.

"There are other means to achieve justice, the judiciary is just one means if we wanted to be legal about it. If we have fought Martial Law and survived, in my heart, we believe we will do more if we lose this," said 65-year-old Aida Santos-Maranan. (READ: Women victims tell SC of Martial Law torture

"There's the Filipino people. We need to continue what we've been doing – to tell stories. After all, history will judge all of us including him [and] President Duterte. I think it's not only the institution [where we can achieve justice]," she added.

Rosales, for her part, said that should they lose the case, they would expose that the burial is a "transaction of politics."

"We need to show that Marcos' burial at the Libingan is something they intended. [Because] after 27 years, nobody can ever imagine why they would allow their father to remain afloat," Rosales said in a mix of English and Filipino.

"The political agenda is really to revise history that Marcos was a plunderer, a murderer, and Marcos betrayed the Filipino people," she added.

They also raised that "it hurts" that Duterte visited Governor Marcos days ahead of the ruling. In contrast, the petitioners were unsuccessful when they tried to set an audience with the President last August before the first round of oral arguments.

"He didn't even listen to us. It's like we feel again that Martial Law is still happening," said Hilda Narciso in Filipino. – Rappler.com

Patty Pasion

Patty leads the Rappler+ membership program. She used to be a Rappler multimedia reporter who covered politics, labor, and development issues of vulnerable sectors.

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