It’s in the bag. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made good his campaign promise and has ordered the Philippine military to prepare the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr at the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. This means not only is the family’s 27-year-old request going to be granted, Marcos Sr will be buried with full military honours too. You just can’t make this stuff up. This news could be enough to give the Aquino family, especially former President BS Aquino an anxiety attack. His mother, former President Cory Aquino must be turning in her grave. The Philippines just gave a new meaning to the term necropolitics.
Marcos Sr’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is a big slap on the Aquinos’ faces, indeed. It makes a joke out of the EDSA “people power” revolution that toppled Marcos and forced him and his family to go into exile in Hawaii, the USA. Thirty years after Marcos Sr’s ouster, the Aquino name has lost its glory due to the incompetence of BS Aquino – the only son of revered couple Ninoy and Cory. BS Aquino’s appalling performance as President inadvertently proved that the Philippines became worse off after Marcos lost power. To be fair, BS Aquino only inherited his mother’s flawed system of governance and mediocrity. The country’s Presidential system and Constitution were products of the Cory “revolutionary government”. But I digress…
Going back to Marcos Sr’s burial, those who are against Duterte’s decision are up in arms. You can almost imagine them wailing and gnashing their teeth in frustration. All they can do is make noise on social media and condemn Marcos Sr for his alleged crimes. Alleged because Marcos Sr was not convicted in court of any of the allegations members of the so-called “civil society” accuse him of. Whatever cases against him died with him because the Cory Aquino government did not allow him to come back to the country when he was still alive. She could have prosecuted him in a Philippine court, which could have put closure to the cases. It seems Cory was not interested in giving Marcos Sr due process. It was probably more convenient for her and the Aquino family to be perceived as the victims. It seemed to have served the Aquinos well keeping the public perception of the Marcoses as “evil” — until recently, that is.
Yes, the Marcos family can actually use the lines “due process” and “rule of law” against those who are against the burial of Marcos Sr at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Without a proper court conviction, their critics only have hearsay and innuendos against them. It’s only fair to demand that the Marcos family be accorded due process considering their critics are the same people who have been demanding that Duterte accord due process to suspected drug lords and dealers. They can’t be selective in applying the law to favour only those they think “deserve it”. The law has to be applied equally to all, even former Presidents like Marcos Sr.
Surprisingly, there are a lot of people who don’t mind Marcos Sr being buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. To be honest, the only reason some people have their knickers in a knot over the idea is because of the name of the cemetery. It’s not just for heroes anyway. Former heads of state and those who served in the military are allowed to choose it as their final resting place. Marcos Sr ticks both criteria. Duterte is not even breaking the law in allowing it. The lawmakers who are against the idea had 30 years to craft a law banning a hero’s burial for Marcos Sr but they lacked the foresight to even think there was a possibility it could happen.
All these years, anti-Marcos advocates did not do anything to prevent a Marcos return. They thought the EDSA flame will keep on burning. Now they are grappling for anything to prevent what they consider to be a nightmare scenario. They imagine the worse scenario – that it will set a precedent. A precedent for what, exactly? Really, when one applies rational thinking to the issue, one will realise that no one is going to die or get hurt, well, except for maybe a few egos, by allowing Marcos Sr to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. If anything, Filipinos can finally bury the past and move on.
The only reason anti-Marcos advocates are making a big deal of it is because they don’t want to be proven wrong about the Marcoses. But it’s too late, more and more people now give him a second look and think that he may not be as bad as some people say he was. Who can blame them when a lot of the infrastructure built during the Marcos years is still being used today? For some, the legacy of his work overshadows the negative propaganda perpetuated by the Aquinos and their allies.
Some are asking: Why do the Marcoses insist on burying their father and husband at the burial grounds supposedly reserved for heroes? Whether it is to drive a point – that they are finally vindicated – or to simply piss off their enemies, it doesn’t matter. What matters now is there is no law preventing them from burying their father as their hero. Marcos Sr may be a criminal to his critics, but unfortunately for them, only a court can say that he is. That is assuming we are to respect due process and give him the right to presumption of innocence. Human rights advocates should give him that.