NHCP to Duterte: Lead way to true healing, reconsider Marcos burial

MANILA, Philippines – The chairperson of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines on Friday, November 11, urged President Rodrigo Duterte to "lead the way to true healing" by reconsidering a hero's burial for former president Ferdinand Marcos.

"I ask you as Chair of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines to reconsider your decision to bury Mr Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani,"  NHCP chairperson Maria Serena Diokno said in a letter dated November 11, 3 days after the High Court ruled in favor of a state interment for the late strongman.

"Our appeal is based not on a narrow and short-sighted reading of the law but on historical grounds," Diokno added.

Diokno reiterated the NHCP's findings on Marcos' "highly questionable" war claims which, she said, only covered a fraction of his record as a public official. 

She said Republic Act No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013 – which attributes to the Marcos regime "massive and grave violations of human rights" – presents a "broader picture" of the late dictator's record in government.

"The integrity and historical basis of the government's effort to monetarily compensate the victims of these violations of human rights would be ripped out by the singular act of burying the man at the helm of this dictatorial regime in a national shrine like the Libingan ng mga Bayani. What one hand gives, the other takes away," she said.

Diokno said that if Duterte wants national healing and unity – among the President's reasons for supporting the state interment of Marcos – this would not be achieved through the burial.

"If healing is the aim, then, the wounds of the past are best dealt with by coming to terms with them fairly and squarely, not by denying them, deflating their effect, or ignoring them altogether," she said.

"The justices of History, anchored on historical truth, is far greater than that which any court, including the highest court of the land, can render (or in this case, fail to render). As President of our Republic, you have the unique opportunity and obligation to heed the demands of the justice of History, and thereby lead the way to true healing," Diokno added.

She said "historical truth" was what national hero Jose Rizal had in mind "when he proposed in his Noli that the country's ills should be 'exposed…on the steps of the temple so that each one who would come to invoke the Divine, should propose a cure for them.'

Diokno added: "Andres Bonifacio, as Apolinario Mabini recalled, 'was wont to say…that we should fear on one except History and indeed History is implacable in doing justice, and its judgment is terrible against the offender.'"

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments on 6 petitions against a hero's burial for Marcos. After two extensions, the Supreme Court junked the petitions with a vote of 9-5, with one abstention, triggering protests in various parts of the country. (READ: TIMELINE: The Marcos burial controversy)

The President had repeatedly said that he could not break the promise he made to the Marcoses and the people of Ilocos during the campaign. The Marcoses supported the bid of Duterte, who won by a landslide in the Ilocos region. – Rappler.com