2 more petitions filed in SC vs. Marcos burial in heroes cemetery

By on August 22, 2016

Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes' Cemetery). (Photo by RJCabagnot - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.)
Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery). (Photo by RJCabagnot – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0.)

MANILA—Two more petitions were filed before the Supreme Court on Monday opposing the burial of the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City, bringing the number of petitions pending at the high court to five.

The fourth petition for certiorari and prohibition filed by Zaira Baniaga, John Arvin Buenaagua, Joanne Lim and Juan Antonio Magalang, all students of the University of the Philippines were members of the youth collectively referred to as ‘millenials’.

The petition asked the High Court to declare the Memorandum issued by the Secretary of the Department National Defense last Aug. 7 and the interment of the deposed dictator at the LNMB as ‘ultra vires’ for being without legal basis and unconstitutional.

Named respondents in the plea were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff General Ricardo Visaya and Administrator of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office Ernesto Carolina.

Republic Act 289 stipulates that the power and authority to allow the former president to be buried can only emanate from the Board of National Pantheon, of which Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana is not included.

They claim that Lorenzana may have abused his authority and must be ordered by the Supreme Court to cease from implementing his own memorandum.

The petitioners also argued that the deposed dictator is disqualified from being buried at the 103-hectare Heroes’ Cemetery for he falls under the category of those ‘dishonorably separated or discharged from the service’ and was witnessed by the whole world on Feb. 25, 1986 and that a LNMB burial for Marcos Sr. would place him in the same category as other Presidents who are already buried in the LNMB – Presidents Elpidio Quirino, Carlos Garcia, and Diosdado Macapagal, all of which were not ousted from office or found to be guilty of atrocities and ill-gotten wealth.

Petitioners claim that to allow Marcos, an internationally recognized tyrant and plunderer to lie beside certified heroes shall create that irreconcilable repugnancy with the declaration of State policy under R.A. No. 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.

“We cannot with a clear conscience accept that Marcos the tyrant lie beside the nation’s genuine freedom fighters. Malacanang cannot insist its will when laws have been enacted recognizing the human rights violations during the Marcos regime. The government must be consistent,” declared Baniaga.

For his part, Lim, also a petitioner against the curfew ordinances of the cities of Manila, Quezon and Navotas said, “May this petition symbolize our eternal gratefulness to the freedom fighters of the previous generation by their unspeakable sacrifices and collective struggle we millenials enjoy what was denied of them in their youth”.

They also called out on fellow ‘millenials’ to “step up and not content themselves with social media rants”.

“For us long as civil liberties and human rights are being threatened or being trampled upon, the idealistic youth must lend its intellect, its talent and time in order to achieve social justice with social progress, Lim concluded.

Meanwhile, the fifth petition which was filed by former government officials led by former senator Heherson Alvarez and some members of the academe and the entertainment industry.

The petition echoed the arguments earlier raised in the previous pleas adding that the internment of the remains of Marcos at the heroes cemetery is not justifiable considering the numerous human rights violations committed during his term and the amount of public money stolen by him and his cronies.

“Such a burial is against the 1987 Constitution which was precisely designed to prevent another dictatorship similar to the iron-clad rule of Marcos that only ended with his ouster from power in 1986,” the petition said.

They explained that his burial at the LNMB violates not only the Constitution but also Republic Act 289 (An Act Providing for the Construction of a National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes and Patriots of the Country).

“He is one who is unworthy of inspiration of emulation” and “committed atrocious crimes against the Filipino people during his regime. Petitioners submit that these acts make him unworthy of an honor intended to inspire or be emulated by the current and future generations,” the petitioners said.

Aside from Alvarez and his wife, Cecilia Guidote-Alvarez, the other petitioners are movie director Joel Lamangan, UST political science professor Edmund Tayao, former Department of Education Secretary Edilberto De Jesus, actor Noel Trinidad, Belinda Olivarez-Cunanan, Fr. Benigno Beltran, Roberto Verzola, Julia Kristina Legasto, Augusto Legasto Jr. and Danilo Olivarez who is the chairman of the Movement Against Political Dynasties.

Apart from Lorenzana and Visaya, also named respondents to the petition include Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, AFP deputy chief of staff for reservist and retiree affairs Rear Admiral Ernesto Enriquez and the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office.

The SC on Friday ordered the consolidation of the three earlier pleas filed by human rights victims during the Martial Law against the internment of Marcos at the LNMB.

The SC is set to conduct an oral argument on the issue on Wednesday.