1) It Does Not make Sense To Me: The Anti-Marcos Burial Protestations
2) The Anti-Marcos Burial Protestations: Does It Really Make Sense?
By Yusuf Ashraf “Joey” Pamaran Tugung
To the Martial Law victims, the protesters and rallyists, emotions run so high and deep after President Rodrigo Duterte and the Supreme Court allowed the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (formerly called Republic Memorial Cemetery). However, both branches of our government were simply interpreting and implementing the law governing burials at the LNMB i.e. Republic Act 289, which was signed into law on June 17, 1948 by then President Elpidio Quirino. Anchored on this particular law, the decision of the executive department and the ruling of the judiciary were therefore a no-brainer.
While we certainly understand the feelings, emotions, and even rage, of the Martial Law victims, including the anti-Marcos advocacy groups, and yet, as a democratic and republican state, we are a nation of laws, not of men. Thus, as government of laws, we have no other alternative but to stoically follow and enforce the law, even if the law may seem to be unjust to some. “Vt non in lege,” emotions have no place in the law.
Having said that, if one disagrees with the decisions made and its end result, the recourse should have been to repeal, revise or amend this law and not bring the protestations into the streets. However, it does not make sense to me why after all of those 30 years that we had, post-martial law, and having had five administrations, two of which were victims of Martial rule themselves and are ardent anti-Marcos (i.e., Presidents Corazon Aquino and Benigno Aquino III), did not do such undertaking when they had all the opportunity to do so considering they controlled all levers of government and having majority control of both Houses of Congress then.
I do understand the rationale behind the anti-Marcos burial protestations and their quixotic legal challenges. However, it does not make sense to me to continue on questioning the decision of the Supreme Court and the Executive Department when they are simply interpreting and enforcing a cut and dry law. RA 289 clearly defines the grounds who are to be qualified to be buried at the LNMB, which among others, a former president, commander-in-chief, former soldier and war veteran and former secretary of national defense. Barking at the wrong tree, instead, they should address their protestations to both houses of Congress for the law to be repealed or amended (albeit we do know constitutionally it will not have an ex post facto effect), which regrettably does not make sense to me again when most leaders of these advocacy groups were former and even current members of Congress and former cabinet secretaries during the administrations of Aquino and Aquino. Thus, bringing this matter to the streets and the court of public opinion by them is plain and simple pathetic, disingenuous, hypocrisy, if not stupidity.
I do understand the Martial Law victims demands for justice, but again, it does not make sense to me why their cries have not been addressed by the past administrations, especially under the administrations of the mother and son presidencies, who themselves were victims of Martial Law.
I do understand that the Martial Law victims deserves remuneration for the loss, grief, pain, suffering and anguish they went through for the torture or death of their loved ones; but it does not make sense to me why no reparations have been made to these victims by the past administrations, especially that of Aquino and Aquino. This despite the creation of the PCGG and its successful recovery of billions of pesos on the Marcos ill-gotten wealth.
I do understand the rights of the anti-Marcos protesters to assemble and denounce the decision of the Supreme Court and President Duterte for allowing the burial of the late President Marcos at the LNMB. However, what I do not understand is why these left-leaning lawmakers (e.g., Satur Ocampo, Edcel Lagman), human rights lawyers and advocates (e.g., Nery Colmenares), sectoral representatives, the former commissioner of CHR (Etta Rosales), former cabinet members, former and current legislators (e.g., Senators Leila de Lima, Francisco Pangilinan), all of whom have served in past administrations, notably under the Aquino and Aquino administrations, did not address the protestations and demand of these anti-Marcos protesters way back when they were in power and having all the might, so to speak, to reright the injustices that were caused to the Martial law victims.
I do understand the rights and the active participation of our youth and our students in their street march to protest the injustices of the Martial rule. And certainly, I do understand their idealism. And while they might have the moral reason to empathize and fight for the rights of the Martial law victims, and yet, it does not make sense to me what kind of standing do they have to decry injustices to the victims when they were not yet born when Martial Law was promulgated in 1972 nor were they were born during the 21 years reign of President Ferdinand Marcos. Do they really know who President Marcos was? Was it all-evil they have been tutored or learned in school about this man during his 21 years of dictatorial reign? Assuming they are Martial Law babies, and yet, they are too young to remember how was it during the Martial Law period.
The issue at bar is not whether the late President Marcos was a hero or not. Let alone historians and students of history debate his heroism. On the other hand, it is simply and all about the law that governs the Libingan ng manga Bayani – Republic Act 289, also known as, “An Act Providing for the Construction of a National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes, and Patriots of the Country.” Fortunate or unfortunate it might be, depending on what aisle one belongs, but following the brocard principle of the rule of law – “dura lex, sed lex” (“the law is harsh, but it is the law”), there is nothing that we can do but to follow and enforce the law. Now, if one disagrees with the result, then they must seek to change the law by addressing it to the Congress, which again should have done by these so called “nationalists” and “patriots” way back after the People Power Revolution in 1986 have toppled down the Marcos dictatorship and whilst having had five administrations, two of which were the mother and son anti-Marcos administrations.
With that being said, let’s move forward then as a nation and let the late President Marcos rest in peace in a cemetery where the law said he truly belongs. Laudable, President Rodrigo Duterte has courageously taken this lead on this highly charged emotional issue; he cut into the chase and put a lid on this long standing divisive and polarizing issue and it’s high time, therefore, that there should be national healing, peace and reconciliation if we want our republic to be united and progressive. Besides, there is more pressing global, national and local agenda that we need to focus, least of which is this issue about the Marcoses.
Finally, I do understand the truism “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” On the other hand, however, I also do understand that “the son shall not suffer for the inequity of the father nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.” (Ezekiel 18:20). Thus, let the “sins” of the past remain where they are – in the dustbin of history; an educational tool for historical scholars and future generations to learn. And for those who cry for justice, this is what I can say: justice is about closure. A closure that should have been undertaken during, and by, the Aquino and Aquino administrations. As oppose to revenge, which is emotional; justice is primarily rational, impersonal and impartial. And as Martin Luther said, “peace is more important than all justice; and peace was not made for the sake of justice, but justice for the sake of peace.”