First of all, congratulations to former Councilor Ali Atienza for recently being gifted with another baby boy. May you have many, many more…
The country is at it again. The issue of whether or not to bury former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is once again dividing the nation and its people, opening up old wounds and spurring ugly debates as well as ugly politics rearing its head.
Marcos died in 1989 while in exile and his family members were allowed by President Cory Aquino to return to the country in 1991. Since then, the nation had been divided on whether or not Marcos should be buried at the LNMB which the surviving Marcos family members claim to be a matter of right.
While the top honchos of Philippine politics slug it out, Marcos’ embalmed body remains in a refrigerated crypt in Batac, Ilocos Norte, where it has been on display in a glass case since 1993, even becoming some sort of a tourist attraction. His widow, former First Lady Imelda Marcos, and their children want him to get the burial they think he deserves as a former leader who has brought the country to greater heights.
Marcos’ son, Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Jr., has repeatedly called for allowing the said burial to finally take place at the LNMB until in 2011, Congress passed a resolution backing his call, because “Ferdinand Marcos gave invaluable service to his country as soldier, writer, statesman, president and commander-in-chief… remained a Filipino patriot to the end of his life and in death deserves to be honored as such.” Over 80 percent of the entire composition of the House of Representatives then, or a total of 219 Congress members, signed the resolution. For some reason, nothing happened.
During the time of PNoy, such calls were revived and Vice President Jojo Binay was tasked to handle the issue. Nothing happened, too.
Now, it seems that President Rodrigo Duterte is bent on putting Marcos and the issue to rest, once and for all. I’m all for this but just to be clear, I do belong to the generation of the so-called ‘Martial Law babies’. As a student, I was among those who joined fellow Thomasians in holding street demonstrations against the former strongman. I know how teargas smells, feels and tastes like and we also joined the nation in celebrating the commonly desired result, when Marcos fled and a new government came into being.
So-called human rights victims have taken steps to take their justice by filing cases in the courts of law. While my heart goes out to them, I think that the issues brought up there do not carry with it the final determination of how Marcos should be buried. They are mostly about claims.
Duterte is right. After all these years, no law had been passed touching on the issue unlike in 2011 where Congress came up with a resolution. That way, each succeeding administration must have been provided a legal guide to follow.
A stickler for the laws, Duterte can only refer to what is stipulated on the rules on who can be buried at the LNMB. It includes former presidents and soldiers, both of which qualify Marcos. Why, even widows of presidents are entitled to the same privilege as well as other VIPs other than presidents and soldiers.
Some feng shui experts have said that the country is having a hard time lifting off because of the negative karma or curse wrought on by the continued failure to put Marcos in the final resting place he would really want to be. Ask any Chinese and they will tell you how important ancestors’ final burial sites are in shaping the future of their descendants. The unsettled issue is like a weight that slows us down. In deference to those who claim to be at the receiving end of the so-called ‘sins’ of the Marcos era, the man had been removed from power, exiled, disgraced, put by some on the bad side of history and yes, he is dead. I don’t think there is anything more that any aggrieved party can ask or hope for, in order for them to exact revenge.
In the recently-concluded elections, more than 14 million Filipinos voted for Ferdinand Jr. or ‘Bongbong’ when he ran for the second highest position in the land. Could this be a telling sign that most Filipinos are ready to close the Marcos era chapter, learn its lessons and turn over a new leaf?
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