President Aquino has not changed his mind about disallowing the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos among heroes at Libingan ng mga Bayani, Malacañang
Editor’s Note: Starting Sept. 21, the 42nd anniversary of the proclamation of martial law by President Ferdinand Marcos, we have been running a series of articles to remember one of the darkest chapters in Philippine history. The articles are necessarily commemorations and more so a celebration of and a thanksgiving for the courage of the men and women who endured unspeakable pain and loss to overcome the Marcos dictatorship and regain our freedoms. These are some of their stories.
Freedom-LOGO21MANILA, Philippines–President Aquino has not changed his mind about disallowing the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos among heroes at Libingan ng mga Bayani, Malacañang said on Sunday, the 42nd anniversary of Marcos’ declaration of martial law.
“The position of the President remains the same,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda told reporters in Malacañang.
Lacierda said Aquino or any of his officials had never discussed the question of Marcos’ burial at Libingan and this meant that the President’s position had not changed.
While campaigning for Malacañang in 2010, Aquino promised never to allow Marcos to be buried at the heroes’ cemetery in Taguig City, Metro Manila.
Aquino’s father, Sen. Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino Jr., was the leader of the opposition to Marcos. The dictator ordered him arrested and jailed him for nearly eight years before allowing him to go to the United States for a heart operation.
Senator Aquino returned to the Philippines on Aug. 21, 1983, and was assassinated at Manila’s international airport.
Although it has never been proven, it is widely believed that Marcos had a hand in the murder of Ninoy Aquino.
Marcos, who ruled the Philippines with an iron fist for two decades, fled to Hawaii after being toppled in the Edsa People Power Revolution in February 1986.
He died in Hawaii three years later at age 72, after a long battle with heart, lung and kidney ailments.
Aquino’s mother, President Corazon Aquino, who was swept to power by the revolution, refused to allow the return of Marcos’ body to the Philippines.
FVR allowed body’s return
But in 1993, her successor, President Fidel V. Ramos, allowed the body of Marcos to be brought home.
The body arrived in Laoag City, in Marcos’s home province of Ilocos Norte, on Sept. 7, 1993.
There were no military honors for Marcos, but 21 retired military generals who had served under his administration were there.
Ramos was represented by his sister, former Sen. Leticia Ramos-Shahani. Then Vice President Joseph Estrada, who supported Marcos during the Edsa Revolution, was also there.
Despite allowing the return of Marcos’ body, Ramos did not allow its burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Claiming that it was Marcos’ wish that he be buried in the heroes’ cemetery, his family preserved his body and kept it in a crypt in his hometown of Batac, waiting for a friendlier administration that would allow the fulfillment of the dictator’s wish.
But the succeeding administrations of Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo also did not allow Marcos to be buried at the heroes’ cemetery.
Three years ago, 193 members of the House of Representatives led by Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero III (now deceased) signed a resolution allowing the burial of Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Aquino declined to decide the issue and instead tasked Vice President Jejomar Binay to study the matter and submit a recommendation.
Binay recommended that Marcos be buried with military honors in Batac. The Marcoses refused, insisting on fulfilling the dictator’s wish.
Last week, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the dictator’s only son, reiterated his family’s wish to have his father honored by laying him to rest at Libingan.
“It is his right because he is a soldier and he served in the military and his record speaks for itself. And he was the longest-sitting president in our history. By rights, he should be buried in Libingan ng mga Bayani,” Marcos said in a television interview. “We really need to start moving forward. I think bringing us back again to that conflict does not serve its purpose now.”
Reparation for victims
Thousands of Marcos’ opponents perished in military prisons during those years.
Thousands survived and are now entitled to reparations under Republic Act No. 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
As required by that law, the government has set aside P10 billion for the payment of reparation to the survivors of Marcos’ martial rule.
But Gloria Rodriguez, 60, who was tortured in prison, tied by her feet and hung upside down over the sea from a helicopter, has lost interest in being recognized and compensated.
“I applied for compensation. I was among the first one. But along with Ka Satur [Ocampo], I wasn’t put on the final list. I suppose because [Human Rights Chair] Etta Rosales knew I was in the movement,” Rodriguez told the Inquirer in an interview on Sunday.
“After that, I lost interest. I don’t want to do it anymore even if I’m being urged to,” she said.
Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has also lost faith in the reparation process.
“We stopped our campaign for the implementation of the claims process after a former policeman was appointed head of the screening committee,” Bayan spokesperson Andrienne Mark Ng said, referring to former Philippine National Police Director Lina Sarmiento, chair of the Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB). “When they find out the claimants are from progressive organizations, they don’t recognize them as victims.”
But the HRVCB promised to press the effort to recognize the heroism and sufferings of the survivors.
“The HRVCB commits to tilt back the scales of justice in favor of the victims by acknowledging the wrongs of the past toward healing the wounds of martial law,” the board said in a statement on Sunday.
The board has so far received 17,659 claims for reparation from the victims or their heirs at its office on the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman, Quezon City, its five regional desks, and through “across-the-country caravans.”
The desks are located at the Commission on Human Rights regional offices in the cities of Davao, Cotabato, Iloilo, Legazpi and Tacloban.
HRVCB Chair Sarmiento said the board was setting up nine more regional desks to accommodate more claimants.
The filing of claims began on May 12 and ends on Nov. 10.
The board expects 20,000 to 30,000 human rights abuse victims to come forward to file claims and tell their stories.–With reports from Julie M. Aurelio, Jamie T. Gamil and Inquirer Research