With President Duterte determined to go ahead with the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on moral grounds, victims of human rights violations during the martial law period have gone to the Supreme Court to seek a restraining order based on both moral and legal issues.
President Duterte is known to be chummy with the Marcoses, and had initially considered Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. as his running mate before settling with Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano who lost in the election anyway.
Individual members of Bayan Muna party-list, Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (CARMMA), and Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (SELDA) sought a temporary restraining order from the high court to stop the state burial slated this September.
In a 30-page petition for certiorari and prohibition, the petitioners said the Duterte government committed grave abuse of discretion for issuing an illegal order, citing existing laws that “prohibit” Marcos’s burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The petition said the interment directive should be declared null and void “for being illegal and contrary to law, public policy, morals and justice.”
It claimed that the planned interment “mocks and taunts” Republic Act No. 289, the law that reserved the cemetery for heroes and patriots for the “inspiration and emulation” of succeeding generations.
It noted that human rights violations and the acquisition of “billions worth of ill-gotten wealth” under the Marcos regime is undisputed.
The order to bury Marcos also violated R.A. No. 289, as the military officials that gave the directive did not belong to the Board of National Pantheon, a body composed of the Interior, Public Works and Education secretaries as well as two appointees who are private citizens.
The planned burial that serves as a “personification of everything that is undemocratic” will also contradict Republic Act No. 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
Military officials have supposedly explained that Marcos was deemed qualified under Armed Forces of the Philippines Regulations G 161-373, the rules authored by then-AFP Chief of Staff (and later president) Fidel Ramos in 1986 to allocate the cemetery plots.
But the petition claimed that “then-President Fidel Ramos, who authored the regulation used to justify Marcos’ interment, did not even see Marcos qualified under that Regulation.”
It noted that Ramos and succeeding presidents were able to exercise their discretion and to refuse to allow Marcos’s burial, which showed that “such an assertion that Marcos has a right to be buried in the LMB is without statutory support.”
Instead, Ramos entered into an agreement with the Marcos family in 1993 to allow his remains to be returned to the country on the condition that he will be buried in his hometown of Batac City, Ilocos Norte. “The Marcoses cannot now renege on that contractual obligation,” the petition stressed.
On that note, the petition also said Marcos should also not be buried on the grounds of his service as a soldier during World War II.
It cited a National Historical Commission of the Philippines’ study that he lied about his credentials and medals, his guerrilla unit Ang Mga Maharlika was never officially recognized, and his actions were officially called into question by upper echelons of the US military.
“While his victims will be forgotten, Marcos will be remembered as a president given a hero’s burial in violation of the law and even their contractual commitment with the Philippine government,” it said.
The petitioners include: former Bayan Muna Representatives Satur Ocampo and Neri Colmenares, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Chairperson Maria Carolina Araullo, National Artist for Literature Bienvenido Lumbera, playwright and CARMMA Convenor Bonifacio Ilagan, and SELDA members Trinidad Repuno, Dionito Cabillas, Carmencita Florentino, Rodolfo del Rosario, Felix Dalisay and Danilo dela Fuente. (Daniel Llanto)