SC orals on Marcos burial: Issues and answers
MANILA, Philippines – Three decades after toppling the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines has yet to settle the debate on whether the late president deserves to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery).
At 10 am on Wednesday, August 31, the Supreme Court (SC) will hear arguments from the groups that have petitioned against President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to allow a military interment for Marcos, as well as from the government and Marcos sides.
The High Court earlier issued a status quo ante order on the burial until September 12.
Six petitions – since consolidated into one case – have been filed before the SC by groups made up of activists and Martial Law victims.
The respondents named in the petitions are the heirs of Marcos, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Deputy Chief of Staff of the military’s Reservist and Retiree Affairs Rear Armiral Ernesto Enriquez, Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff General Ricardo Visaya, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, and Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) Administrator Lieutenant General Ernesto Carolina.
They are all represented by Solicitor General Jose Calida.
Rappler lists here the issues raised by the petitioners against the burial of the late dictator at the national shrine, followed by counter-arguments submitted by the Solicitor General.
The 1987 Constitution
- Hero’s burial for the late dictator contradicts the 1987 Constitution, which is an “anti-dictatorship constitution.”
- It “amounts for a total denial of the abuses committed by the Marcos regime.”
- It violates sections 11 and 13, Article II, of the Constitution, which mandates the state to uphold human rights by educating the youth.
- It defies Section 17, Article VII, which calls for the faithful execution of existing laws, such as the law creating the national pantheon for Presidents, National Heroes and Patriots (Republic Act 289) and the Martial Law Victims Reparations Law (Republic Act 10368).
- There is no item in the Constitution that “expressly prohibits” the late President’s interment at the Heroes’ Cemetery.
Republic Act 289: An Act Providing for the Construction of a National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes and Patriots of the Country
- Section 1 only allows interment for presidents and national heroes “worthy of emulation,” which is not evident in Marcos due to the human rights violations committed during his time.
- Section 2 names the “Secretaries of Interior, Public Works and Communications, Education and two private citizens appointed by the President” as members of the Board of the National Pantheon authorized to order the burial of departed Presidents and national heroes.
- The pantheon referred to in RA 289 is not the existing Heroes’ Cemetery. “It refers to the site in East Avenue, Quezon City, approved by President Quirino on May 12, 1953. To date, no National Pantheon has been erected at the site.”
- President Marcos, through Proclamation 208, declared the Libingan ng mga Bayani located in Fort Bonifacio a national shrine.
Republic Act 10368: Human Rights Victims Reparations Act
- This is a recognition of the human rights violations committed during Martial Law, thus disqualifying Marcos from having an honored burial. The law also calls for the recognition of the sacrifices of Martial Law victims by providing compensations for the damages and establishment of memorials.
- Calida and the Marcos family claim that this is irrelevant to the issue of the burial. They say the victims’ monetary reparations and other forms of recognitions would not be affected by the decisions of the case.
Marcos family’s 1992 agreement with then president Fidel Ramos
- President Marcos’ right to be buried at the national cemetery has been “waived” due to his heirs’ agreement with former president Fidel Ramos in 1992. The deal permitted the family to bring home to the Philippines the remains of the exiled president as long as it would be brought straight to Ilocos Norte without military honors. It also specified that he would not be buried at the national shrine.
- Duterte is not bound by the agreement since it is “doctrinal” that “incumbent presidents are free to determine [their own] policies.”
International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights
- The burial violates the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and international norms on the right to the truth and the duty of the state to preserve memory and guarantee non-repetition.
- ICCPR mandates the state to ensure that a person whose rights are violated must be recognized and be given “effective remedy.”
- Allowing a hero’s burial for Marcos denies Martial Law victims the “remedies awarded to them by competent authorities.”
- The government does not violate international covenants because the petitioners’ premises are that the interment will make Marcos a hero and there will be a “re-writing” of history.
- The administration is not “re-writing” history by allowing the burial as they are not naming Marcos a hero but only recognizing him as a former president and soldier.
- The notion that only “heroes” can be buried at the Libingan is a “legal and historical” misconception.
Marcos’ military records
- Petitioners cited the study conducted by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP), which proved that Marcos’ service as a soldier and a World War II veteran is fake.
- They also said that he was “dishonorably discharged” when he was ousted in 1986.
- The NHCP study is incomplete.
- The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO) recognizes Marcos as a member of the retired army personnel based on a certification issued on August 18, 2016.
- PVAO records show that Marcos was a World War II veteran and among retired military personnel.
- Because of PVAO’s certification, Marcos is considered “honorably discharged” from the service.