Set in stone: Martial Law victims' names placed at Marcos' grave

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 27 2016 06:34 PM | Updated as of Jun 27 2016 07:22 PM

Rocks and stones bearing the names of human rights violation victims during the Martial Law were laid in a burial site believed to be reserved for former President Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

In a Facebook post, Bubut Vasquez wrote that people quietly gathered on Sunday to put the rocks and stones in the open crypt.

"On each stone laid was written the name of a man/woman/child kidnapped, tortured and murdered during Martial Law. They are the real heroes who deserve to be buried here," he said.

He added the site is a public space and everyone is welcome "to pay their respects and honor the real heroes."

"Bawat Bato" is a non-partisan initiative by the groups Martial Law Chronicles Project, Claimants 1081, Nameless Heroes and Martyrs, and UP Samasa Almuni opposing the burial of Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Award-winning writer Miguel Syjuco started the idea of using stones in the silent protest.

Susan Quimpo, one of the conveners of "Bawat Bato" from the Martial Law Chronicles Project told ABS-CBN News the burial plot has apparently been prepared since the 90s, when the Marcos family returned to the Philippines after the dictator was kicked out of power via the People Power revolution.

The silent protest staged on Sunday sought to show that Marcos does not deserve to be buried alongside Filipino heroes "because he is not a hero," said Quimpo.

"It is basically a request, a very strong request to President Duterte to rethink that decision because it will not bring closure or unity," she said.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has said the former strongman deserves to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani as a soldier, adding that this issue has long divided the country and it must be put to rest.

But Quimpo believes otherwise.

"On the contrary, it will further divide the nation because burying Marcos there would be a signal that he is a hero because just by the name of the place, it is a sacred ground for heroes, and history proves that Marcos is no hero—in fact, he is a tyrant," she added.

Instead, the group believes Marcos must be buried in Batac, Ilocos Norte, "which is a place wherein Marcos is well-respected and loved."

"Bakit ho kailangang dito pa ipagpilitan, samantalang doon po sa kanyang hometown, minamahal siya doon? So doon na lang dapat," said Quimpo.

Quimpo said Libingan ng mga Bayani, as a public space, is open to all. But during the protest, participants were asked to silently perform the ritual of writing the names in stones and laying them on the ground, as a sign of respect for all other heroes buried there.

The conveners also called for the ritual to also be done "where there basically were pockets of resistance to Martial Law," and post it on social media until it reaches Duterte "that a lot of people still feel strongly about this."

"We will continue doing actions that will basically call attention to this and prove that justice has not been served to the Martial Law victims, and so, to bury Marcos there is parang adding salt to wounds, open wounds," said Quimpo.

Marcos ruled the Philippines under Martial Law from 1972 to 1981, but was the president from 1965 to 1986.

Historian Michael Charleston Chua cited Lito Tiongson's statement that Amnesty International (AI) has estimated that during martial law, 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 were tortured, and 3,240 were killed.

READ: Claimants to P10-B Marcos wealth balloon to 75,000

Duterte recently met with Marcos' only son and namesake, losing vice-presidential candidate Ferdiand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr., who said the burial can happen as early as September.

READ: 'Hero's burial for Marcos betrays struggle vs martial law'