Hero's burial for Marcos reopens rights victims' wounds

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 19 2016 02:09 PM | Updated as of Aug 19 2016 02:51 PM

MANILA – Victims of torture, rape and arbitrary detention during martial law recalled their harrowing ordeals as they petitioned the Supreme Court on Friday to stop the planned burial of the late strongman, Ferdinand Marcos, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes Cemetery).

The human rights victims argued that Marcos' internment in the revered grounds next month would be a "mockery" of the country's struggle against authoritarian rule.

They are among tens of thousands who have sued for damages against the Marcos family, who are accused of pillaging $10 billion from state coffers during their two-decade-long rule.

Church worker Hilda Narciso, said soldiers arrested her without a warrant then raped her.

''In that situation, I just wished that they had killed me, shot me, but they did not. Maybe it's because I have a story to tell. I want to speak in behalf of the many other victims. So many women went through the same ordeal,'' she said.

''The military that time, in connivance with the government, was really heartless. Now you ask yourself, does Marcos deserve a hero's burial?"

University of the Philippines professor Mila Aguilar cried psychological torture after she was forced to go underground in 1972 for fear of arrest. She said she left her infant son with her mother, whom she did not see again until he was a teenager.

''My son may have survived, but I died inside. For five months I was crying at the underground house. I couldn't function,'' Aguilar said.

''When I got back to my house, I no longer had a son. We don't know each other. We never bonded as a mother and son."

Aguilar's husband was shot dead by soldiers in 1981. She did never got to see her husband's remains because she was in hiding.

Abdulmari Imao Jr., the son of the late national artist for sculpture Abdulmari Asia Imao, said he could not take having his father being buried in the same cemetery as a dictator.

''To President Duterte, I would like to tell you that the Marcos burial is a promise you can break,'' Imao said.

''If you allow the burial, you will be breaking the hearts of many people, including the 70,000 human rights violations compensation claimants."

RE-WRITING HISTORY

Lawyer Liwayway Arce, whose father was killed during the Martial Law years, said burying Marcos at the heroes' cemetery would effectively whitewash the alleged sins of the dictatorship.

''This would be rewriting history. The world has long acknowledged that Marcos is dictator, yet here we are teaching our youth that it is fine to give a hero's burial to a dictator."

Magazine editor Jo-Ann Maglipon said older generations have somehow failed to teach the youth about the horrors of martial law and the struggle to restore democracy.

''We went through a harrowing time. We lost careers, futures and dreams. But it seems that we did not share this experience enough with many more especially those who came after," Maglipon said.

"So what is important to me personally is to be able to let a nation know again what we went through, what this country went through and what justice requires,'' she said.

A hero's burial will mark a high-point in the Marcos family's political comeback, which was severely set back by the narrow loss of former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. in the vice presidential elections last May.

The late dictator's body was returned to the Philippines in 1993, four years after he died while on exile in Hawaii. He was overthrown by a military-backed popular revolt in 1986.