Editor’s note: This article is part of the Kami debate series on whether the late President Ferdinand Marcos should be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.This is the opening remarks of the negative side represented by Niko Aguilar who hails from Ilocos and who is critical of the late Ferdinand Marcos. Kami.com.ph does not necessarily share the views of the author.
With the electoral win of President-Elect Rodrigo Duterte, the possibility of a Ferdinand Marcos Burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LMB) can be a reality. My stand on this issue is- No, Duterte should not allow the Burial of the late president and dictator based on legal and moral grounds. I will argue that even if Duterte will allow him to be buried “as a soldier, not a hero”, Marcos should still not be buried in LMB.
Republic Act 289, entitled, “An Act Providing for the Construction of a National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes and Patriots of the Country” is the law governing the privilege of burial in the LMB. It states that,
“To perpetuate the memory of all the presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn, there shall be constructed a National Pantheon which shall be the burial place of their mortal remains.”
More than just a burial ground for the presidents, national heroes and patriots, the LMB was built as symbolic ground to commemorate people who took part in the history of the nation, and contributed to nationhood. The commemoration of these heroes is aimed to inspire future generations and to serve as role models of youth and the unborn.
Given this premise, is the burial of Ferdinand Marcos justifiable as a means to “inspire and emulate” future generations, and is the life of Ferdinand Marcos, regardless of him being a president or a soldier, something that should be given the title of being a hero? The answer is no.
Firstly, Martial Law remains to be one of the darkest periods of recent history, with 70,000 people imprisoned, 34,000 tortured and 3,240 killed, as per Amnesty International report. Many lives were lost, basic freedoms were suspended, and democracy was at its lowest point. Martial Law victims are classified as “heroes’ under Republic Act no. 10368, which states that,
"…it is hereby declared the policy of the State to recognize the heroism and sacrifices of all Filipinos who were victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations committed during the regime of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos covering the period from September 21, 1972 to February 25, 1986…"
The burial of Ferdinand Marcos would therefore be an insult to the heroes of Martial Law, which in fact, are already recognized by the law as “heroes” more than just victims, and is already trying to compensate their families for the loss of their family members during the regime.
The likes of Judy Taguiwalo, who was raped, detained while pregnant, and subjected to different torture devices will be forgotten. The Dictator who allowed the torture, killings, and disappearances of Jose Lacaba, Carlos Centenera, Natham and Susan Quimpo, and other victims shall be vindicated because of this burial.
The burial would make Ferdinand Marcos a “hero” despite the political abuses that he committed during his regime. Making the oppressor of the heroes of Martial Law a hero as well is a contradiction that we cannot afford to propagate to the next generations.
Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos once said in an interview, “Let us leave history to the professors, to those who study the history of the Philippines. It is not our job. Our job is to look at what the people need at present.” Bongbong’s statement is an attempt to forget, and to revise the realities of the past. History is not only confined within the realm of the professor, of the student, and of the historian. History determines our collective identity as a people and as a nation. Burying Marcos in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani would not be representative of our collective identity as a nation- because we are a nation which fought a dictator, and a nation who learns from our past.