President Ferdinand E. Marcos died of health complications in a Honolulu hospital on September 28, 1989. That was twenty six years ago. He is still around.
Over time, his mummified, paraffin-encased mortal remains have been accorded multiple burial rites in Hawaii as well as in the Philippines, but continues to be uninterred. His cadaver, way past its bedtime, is intentionally displayed above ground in the Marcos residence cum museum in Batac, Ilocos Norte. Along with his fake WWII medals! Both, as testament to the tenacity of remorseless and unrelenting impertinence.
There have been endless attempts to enveigle the government to have Marcos buried in no other place than the national cemetery for heroes--the Libingan ng Bayani, literally, “the burial place of heroes”--egged on by a mixture of pleas, protestations and demands from Imelda, from her children and their dwindling faithful. (Marcos was President, of course. He claimed to be a War Hero, as we also all know. And there is a law, Republic Act 289, that must be complied with, as their incessant clamor goes!) We recall it was President Ramos who allowed the Marcos remains to be repatriated to the Philippines (with an alleged understanding that burial was to soon ensue) while successor President Estrada announced his assent to burial ceremonies with fanfare, flourish and full honors at the Libingan, only to retreat from and retrieve the earlier intent due to general public umbrage. On this issue, both past Presidents have remained silent since.
Obviously abashed and perhaps humbly accepting that she cannot have it her way, at least for now, Imelda, in her continuing whimsy said: “Just you wait….there is a divine plan….it is the hero that makes the place, not the place that makes the hero.” Such was her response during an interview that coincided with her 82nd birthday. (She is now 86 and in blooming bloat!) The Philippine Daily Inquirer naughtily titled that coverage with the headline: “Playtime.” No kidding. And so with bated breath, Batac for now.
This week we painfully observed the 43rd anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law upon which the totality of the Marcos history is etched in ‘aerternam,’ with absolutely no vain revisionist recourse.
Here are the descriptive words of a Martial Law victim, a refugee himself, capturing most succinctly the irreversibly indelible national pain. Amando Doronila, prominent Filipino pundit, wrote: “Marcos dismantled Philippine Democracy and replaced it with a dictatorship. That regime witnessed the worst human rights abuses in the country and spawned the most rapacious corruption.” In having done so, Marcos’ Martial Law was indeed the crafty smokescreen behind which the ethos of the country was altered and her moral fiber eviscerated. The nation has yet to recover.
To substantiate, in yet another iteration, here is the undeniable body count: 3,257 extra judicial killings; 35,000 torture victims; 70,000 incarcerations and 120,000 victims of arbitrary arrests. The source: Amnesty International.
The World Bank-UN Office on Drugs and Crimes’ Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative estimated that Marcos purloined between $5 billion and $10 billion during his reign from 1966 to 1986. Let me quote from its report:
”This ill-gotten wealth was accumulated through six channels: Outright takeover of large private enterprises; creation of state-owned monopolies in vital sectors of the economy; awarding government loans to private individuals as fronts for Marcos or his cronies; direct raiding of the public treasury and government financial institutions; kickbacks and commissions from firms working in the Philippines; and, skimming off foreign aid and other forms of international assistance. The proceeds were laundered through the use of shell corporations, which invested the funds in real estate inside the United States, or by depositing the funds in various domestic and offshore banks under pseudonyms, in numbered accounts or accounts with code names.”
Originally, in 1947 a 142–hectare portion of Fort William McKinley (later known as Fort Bonifacio and now parceled out to have become the trendy BGC or Bonifacio Global City) was set aside as the “Republic Memorial Cemetery.” Our counterpart to the US’s Arlington National Cemetery. Now, let us go back to RA 289, which describes itself as “An Act Providing for the Construction of a National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes and Patriots of the Country.” It was signed into law by Pres. Elpidio Quirino in June 1948 from a bill filed under President Manuel A. Roxas who passed away two months earlier. President Ramon Magsaysay renamed the memorial cemetery “Libingan ng mga Bayani.” The Pantheon itself was never built. In fact, there are only two Presidents, whose bereaved chose the venue for their final resting places, are buried there. Carlos P. Garcia and Diosdado P. Macapagal.
It is simply sane to conclude that at the time of RA 289’s passage, Congress could not have been so omniscient as to have entertained even a wisp of a premonition that a day will come when a personage shall emerge such as a President of the Republic, who having survived WW II and walked the Death March out of Bataan would likewise bodily personify the desecration of democracy as well as become the epitome of dishonesty and dishonor, both in private and public like. Of course, the law does not specifically say that frauds and scoundrels cannot be buried in the hallowed grounds, even if they happen to have been “…Philippine presidents, national heroes and patriots,” at one time.
Section 1 of RA 289 categorically states the specific objective of the law: “…To perpetuate the memory of all Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn.”
What is patent, beyond argument, beyond sanity, is that the Marcoses are lying in wait for a political ambush that will finally foist the abnormal veneration of a scoundrel upon a nation they have mercilessly molested.
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