MANILA – The Supreme Court on Tuesday voted to allow the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, serving a blow to the cause of human rights victims during the Martial Law period.
Nine justices sided with the Duterte administration in allowing the burial at the heroes’ cemetery in Taguig City, while 5 magistrates, namely Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Associate Justices Marvic Leonen, Benjamin Caguioa, Francis Jardeleza, and Antonio Carpio, opposed the interment in the LNMB.
With the exception of Carpio, the dissenting justices were all appointees of former President Benigno Aquino III, whose mother Corazon was a key figure in the 1986 popular revolt that toppled the Marcos dictatorship.
Here are the highlights of the opinions of the dissenting justices:
-- President Duterte acted with grave abuse of discretion in ordering Marcos’ burial at the cemetery because it violated domestic law and international law in relation to the obligations to do justice for human rights victims.
-- Marcos’ burial in the LNMB would run counter to the duty to combat impunity as well as to preserve memory - all of which are international commitments that the Philippines is bound to observe.
-- Marcos’ burial in the LNMB would run counter to the original intention of the cemetery, as both branches of government - the legislative and judicial – have already recognized that Marcos was a dictator, plunderer and a human rights violator.
-- The invocation that Marcos’ burial would bring about national unity and healing, by itself, is insufficient to justify the use of public funds absent a public purpose.
-- Marcos is ineligible to be interred at heroes’ cemetery because of the sovereign action of the people of removing him from office, known as the People Power Revolution.
-- Despite being a Medal of Valor awardee, Marcos ceased to be qualified when he was ousted on February 25, 1986.
-- Marcos’ forcible removal in February 1986 amounted to “the strongest form of dishonorable discharge from office since it is meted out by the direct act of the sovereign people.”
-- The majority’s opinion that Marcos could not be considered dishonorably discharged as his separation was not in accordance with a 1987 Armed Forces of the Philippines guidelines is wrong as this could not be applied “retrospectively to undo a final act by the sovereign people.”
-- Marcos’ ouster is beyond both judicial and administrative review and cannot be undone by a mere circular of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
-- Marcos is the “very antithesis of freedom and democracy because he was a dictator as declared by this Court.”
-- No public purpose is served by transferring of Marcos’ remains at the heroes’ cemetery and public funds cannot be used for this purpose.
-- Marcos is no hero and was not even an exemplary public officer.
-- Marcos’ burial at the heroes’ cemetery would be in violation of Republic Act 289, which created the national pantheon. Section 1 of the law states that those buried must have led lives worthy of “inspiration and emulation.”
-- The order allowing Marcos’ burial at the heroes’ cemetery violates Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparations Act.
-- The order allowing Marcos’ burial violates the Revised Administrative Code because there is no public purpose for the interment of the late dictator at the heroes’ cemetery.
-- The order allowing Marcos’ burial at the heroes’ cemetery encourages impunity.
-- “The burial of Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is not an act of national healing. It is an effort to forget out collective shame, to bury our inaction for many years. It is to contribute to the impunity against human rights abuses and the plunder of our public trust.”
-- The argument that Marcos’ burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani does not make him a hero “disregards the status of the LNMB as a national shrine.”
-- The Solicitor General’s argument that President Rodrigo Duterte’s power to reserve land for a public purpose under the Revised Administrative Code 1987 was not sufficient basis for the President’s decision to inter the Marcos remains.
-- The President’s order to inter Marcos’ remains at the heroes’ cemetery is “a verbal order, which falls short of the manner prescribed by law for its exercise.” The Revised Administrative Code and the Public Land Act both required the President to exercise this power by proclamation or executive order.
-- The order to inter Marcos’ remains does not serve a public purpose, noting Solicitor General Jose Calida’s admission that the burial of the Marcos remains was a campaign promise of the President to the Marcos family.