By: Elena Grace Flores
Many Marcos supporters feel that the Supreme Court’s approval for the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Heroes’ Cemetery is the beginning of their hope to bring back Bongbong Marcos into the Executive Office. Here’s the details of the SC ruling from CNN.
Youtube video by: Rappler.com
[VIDEO]: Get live updates on the Supreme Court oral arguments on the burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani at 10 am.
The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was a former president, commander-in-chief, soldier and war veteran, and his ouster through people power did not take away his privilege to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the Supreme Court (SC) ruled yesterday.
Voting 9-5 in session with one abstention, the justices also ruled that President Duterte did not abuse his discretion in allowing Marcos’ burial at the heroes’ cemetery in Taguig.
The SC dismissed the petitions questioning the legality of Duterte’s order last August to allow Marcos’ interment at the Libingan.
The high court also lifted the status quo ante order it earlier issued, temporarily stopping the burial previously set last Sept. 18, effectively giving the go-signal for the interment.
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In their dissenting opinions, Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said a hero’s burial for Marcos would be a distortion of history and would gloss over his “dishonorable discharge from office” and the fact that he was “no hero.”
Malacañang welcomed the SC ruling, with President Duterte expressing his intention to join the interment rites, according to the late strongman’s son and namesake former senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
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The SC decision came 23 years after Marcos’ remains returned to the country from Hawaii where he died in exile in 1989, three years after the historic EDSA People Power revolution that toppled him.
Dismissed were 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 Loretta Ann Rosales; a group led by former senator Heherson Alvarez; a group of University of the Philippines students; former Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao human rights chair Algamar Latiph; and Sen.Leila de Lima.
Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta penned the decision with eight justices concurring – Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Arturo Brion, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano Del Castillo, Jose Perez, Jose Mendoza and Estela Perlas-Bernabe.
Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, a classmate of Duterte, inhibited.
Agreeing with the position of the Office of the Solicitor General during the oral arguments, the SC held that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the executive branch as it only upheld the exercise of the prerogative authority of the president under Article VII, Section 17 of the Constitution.
“At bar, President Duterte, acted within the bounds of law and jurisprudence. Notwithstanding the call of human rights advocates, the Court must uphold what is legal and just and that is not to deny Marcos his rightful place at the LNMB,” the high court stressed.
In his concurring opinion, Brion explained that Duterte’s decision is beyond the review power of the judiciary simply because it is a political decision that he said is “not without support for the Filipino electorate.”
The SC rejected the claim of petitioners that Duterte’s decision was motivated by his debt of gratitude and payback to the Marcoses for supporting his presidential candidacy in the elections last May, saying they failed to establish factual basis for this.
The majority of the justices also held that Marcos possessed the qualifications to be interred at the Libingan as a “former president and commander-in-chief, a legislator, a secretary of national defense, a military personnel, a veteran and a Medal of Valor awardee.”
They believed that the late strongman could not be disqualified from such privilege because of his ouster during the people power revolution, explaining that disqualification for dishonorable separation only applies to military personnel prosecuted before a court martial.
The high court also explained that Duterte is not bound by the 1992 agreement between the Marcos family and former president Fidel Ramos, which stipulated that the Marcos remains would be interred in Batac, Ilocos Norte.
“As the incumbent, President Duterte is free to amend, revoke or rescind political agreements entered into by his predecessors and to determine policies which he considers, based on informed judgment and presumed wisdom, will be most effective in carrying out his mandate,” it explained.
The SC pointed out that it is not rewriting the nation’s history in allowing Marcos’ burial as the OSG itself had clarified in the oral arguments that interment at LNMB would not make Marcos a hero.
“There are certain things that are better left for history – not this Court – to adjudge. The Court could only do so much in accordance with the clearly established rules and principle,” the ruling read.
“Beyond that, it is ultimately for the people themselves, as the sovereign, to decide, a task that may require the better perspective that the passage of time provides. In the meantime, the country must move and let this issue rest,” it added.
“The Court sympathizes with the human rights victims and acknowledges the harrowing ordeals they suffered at the hands of government forces during martial law. The stigma left by the martial law regime will never be forgotten by the Filipino people and the burial of president Marcos (at) the LNMB will not rewrite history,” Mendoza said in his concurring opinion.
Historical truths left out
Sereno said the majority decision was in disregard of historical truths and the reparation process for wounds left by the martial law era.
“It would be to disregard historical truths and legal principles that persist after death. As important, it would be to degrade the State’s duty to recognize the pain of countless victims of Marcos and Martial Law,” she said.
“Regardless of the promised national unity that the proposed burial will bring, I cannot, in good conscience, support such an expedient and shortsighted view of Philippine history,” she explained.
She also branded as “a regrettably myopic view” the ruling of the majority that the case is a simple question of the entitlement of a former president and soldier.
Contrary to the majority ruling, Sereno believes President Duterte committed grave abuse of discretion in ordering the Marcos burial at the LNMB.
Aside from Sereno, Carpio and Leonen, the other justices who dissented were Francis Jardaleza and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
Carpio, for his part, insisted that Marcos was not qualified for LNMB interment due to his ouster in the People Power revolution.
He explained that Marcos’ forcible removal was “the strongest form of dishonorable discharge from office since it is meted out by the direct act of the sovereign people.”
He also stressed that Marcos’ ouster is beyond judicial review and must be accepted as an incontrovertible fact and part of history.
“Marcos is no hero. He was not even an exemplary public officer. He is not worthy of emulation and inspiration by those who suffer poverty as a result of the opportunity lost during his administration, by those who continue to suffer the trauma of the violations to the human dignity of their persons and of their family,” Leonen said.
“He is certainly not worthy of emulation and inspiration by those who do public service, including the lawyers, judges and justices who simply want to do what is right, protect others and conscientiously and diligently protect public funds entrusted to them,” he added.
Ilocos Gov. Imee Marcos immediately welcomed the SC ruling as she personally joined their family’s supporters outside the SC compound.
“I thank the Supreme Court. I thank God for not forgetting us,” she told reporters upon learning about the ruling.
The governor also thanked President Duterte for granting their family’s wish even without them asking for it.
She revealed that they have no plans yet on the schedule of the burial, but hinted that her father would most likely be buried beside the late president Carlos Garcia.
“We have yet to discuss it (schedule) with our mother (former first lady and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos),” she explained.
Marcos will be the fourth former president to be buried at the LNMB, after Garcia, Elpidio Quirino and Diosdado Macapagal.
“We acknowledge the decision of the Supreme Court to have the remains of former president Ferdinand Marcos buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani as it is the final arbiter of all legal questions,” presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said he had expected the high court to favor the hero’s burial for Marcos.
“Hopefully, the decision will put to rest the opposition to the burial of Marcos,” he said.
Interviewed live by CNN Philippines, Marcos’ only son said Duterte expressed his wish to join the burial rites and inquired about the interment plans.
“We talked briefly and I told him (President) we’re very grateful for his strong and constant support to the burial (at Libingan) of my late father. He believes it was the right thing to do and according to the laws,” the young Marcos said of his brief conversation with the President in Tacloban, Leyte during the third anniversary commemoration of the Yolanda tragedy.
“He (President) asked me when we intend to bury him, I told him I cannot give any details yet. He told me he would like to attend,” the former senator added.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to Public Affairs Office chief Col. Edgar Arevalo, is ready to implement the ruling once it receives final instructions.