THE Supreme Court yesterday allowed former President Ferdinand E. Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The high court, in a 9-5 vote, dismissed all petitions seeking to block the Marcos burial at the national heroes’ cemetery. Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes inhibited, thus reducing to 14 the number of justices who voted.
In a press briefing, SC Spokesperson Theodore Te announced some of the reasons cited by the justices for allowing the burial of Marcos:
There was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the President (Duterte) ; there is no law that prohibits the burial of the former president Marcos
The President has the power to decide on the use of land within the public domain.
Marcos was former commander-in-chief, former soldier and former secretary of national defense
Some justices disagreed with the position articulated by others that the former president was dishonorably discharged; this applies only to the military.
On the issue of moral turpitude: Marcos has not been convicted by any final judgment and the cases cited were all civil in nature
However, the SC did not release yesterday the decision and final opinions of the justices. But it vowed to make them public as soon as these are all on hand.
Among those who voted to allow the Marcos burial at the Libingan are Associate Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr.; Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro; Arturo D. Brion; Diosdado M. Peralta; Mariano C. Del Castillo; Lucas P. Bersamin; Jose P. Perez; Jose C. Mendoza and Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe.
On the other hand, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio and Associate Justices Francis H. Jardeleza; Marvic F. Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa voted to oppose Marcos’ burial at the heroes cemetery.
The SC first issued a status quo ante order (SQA) on the matter last August 23 which was later extended to September 7.
But at the conclusion of oral arguments last September 7, the SC extended the effectivity of the order.
Last October 18, the high court extended for the second time the halt order until November 8.
The High Court has consolidated the seven petitions filed by groups of martial law victims, led by former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and former Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales, a group led by former Senator Heherson Alvarez, a group of University of the Philippines students, former Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao human rights chair Algamar Latiph, and Senator Leila De Lima.
The petitioners argued that the planned burial of the late dictator was “illegal and contrary to law, public policy, morals and justice.”
They claimed that allowing the burial of the former leader would violate Republic Act No. 289 (law regulating the Libingan ng mga Bayani) and R.A. 10368 (Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act) and also argued that the burial would also violate constitutional provision on state policies.
Defending Malacanang’s position, Solicitor General Jose Calida invoked the President’s authority under the Constitution and Revised Administrative Code to decide on political question that does not involve any justifiable issue for the high court to resolve.
During the oral arguments before the SC, the top government counsel argued that it is within the powers of the President to decide on whether to allow or not the burial of former President Ferdinand Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery.