On Sunday, August 14, about 1,500 people gathered to attend a non-partisan citizens' assembly at Rizal Park. The event was organized by the Coalition Against the Marcos Burial in Libingan Ng Mga Bayani.
An ABS-CBN News report pointed out that after a nod from President Duterte, a memorandum dated August 7 was issued by the Department of National Defense instructing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to plan and prepare Marcos's interment at the heroes' cemetery on September 18.
Words of protest
Among those who spoke at the gathering to protest the Marcos burial at LNMB was former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello, who said, "Burying Marcos at Libingan ng mga Bayani would be rewarding deceit, greed and crimes against humanity."
For his part, movie director Joel Lamangan pointed out: "Heroes do not steal, do not kill. They are not shameless and do not betray the country."
Poet Aida Santos, whose father and husband were also Martial Law victims, stated, "It makes us cry, those of us who experienced abuse. Many of us were sexually abused. Whoever said that the Marcos years were a golden age [for the country]? How should I say he is a hero?"
Duterte firm on stand
Duterte has argued that Marcos is qualified to be buried at the military-run cemetery as a former soldier and president. Interestingly, while Duterte's father, Vicente, had served as President Marcos' pre-Martial Law Cabinet secretary, his mother, Soledad, opposed the Marcos rule.
A 2012 Philippine Daily Inquirer feature recalls, "Nanay Soleng was at the forefront of the Yellow Friday Movement of Davao, which helped fan the February EDSA Revolution that pushed former President Cory Aquino to power."
Then again, we're dealing with a different Duterte on this matter.
In a statement, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said President Duterte's stand on the Marcos' burial remains firm the same despite the protest organized in Luneta against the issue.
Andanar explained, "The President has repeatedly said that he would allow any form of protest, like organizing mass actions against the Marcos burial at the LNMB. This is consistent with his philosophy that criticism, good or bad, true or not, is part of the territory of governance in public."
Indeed, the President has repeatedly said he is merely following what is stated in the law. But while that may be so, many people have argued that there are actually compelling legal reasons that would prevent a Marcos burial at LNMB.
The forgotten agreement, faked war record, and various atrocities
In fact, the coalition has urged the government to insist that the Marcos family adhere to their agreement with then-President Fidel V. Ramos. Back then, recalls the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the Marcos family asked Ramos’ permission to bring home the remains of the former President who died in exile in Hawaii in 1989.
The report noted that Ramos—who also happened to be Marcos' second cousin—imposed three conditions to allow the return of the remains. These are the following: the dictator would be given honors due a junior officer, he would be buried immediately, and he would be buried in Ilocos Norte province. Marcos' remains were flown back to the Philippines in 1993.
In addition to that, Marcos' war records have been discredited. A 1986 report in The New York Times pointed pointed out: "Documents that had rested out of public view in United States Government archives for 35 years show that repeated Army investigations found no foundation for Mr. Marcos's claims that he led a guerrilla force called Ang Mga Maharlika in military operations against Japanese forces from 1942 to 1944."
It's also worth noting that Marcos left the country in 1986 with ill-gotten wealth estimated at between $5 billion and $10 billion. His legacy to the country also included a national debt of $26 billion, as well as thousands of victims of illegal detention, torture, and other violations.
Ramos says let Congress decide
These days, former President Ramos himself is no longer referring to the agreement when asked about the Marcos burial at LNMB. In a GMA News Online report, he was quoted as saying, "I said officially let the people decide. Who are the people? Our representatives and senators now sitting in Congress, representing and belonging to [the] House of Representatives and the Senate. Eh kung hindi majority, anong will of the people?."
Ramos likewise added that Duterte has "the authority to do anything within the resolution and enactment of Congress beyond the authority given to him under the Constitution as chief executive and as commander-in-chief."