Is Philippines ready for a state burial for Marcos?

Gerry Lirio, ABS-CBN News

THE times they are a-changing?

If the new survey by the Social Weather Stations (SWS) were to be believed, the nation is slowly softening up on the prospects of giving the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos a hero’s burial.

Conducted last February 24 to 27, the week when President Aquino III led the nation in commemorating the 30th anniversary of the four-day People Power Revolution, the SWS survey said 59 percent of 1,800 respondents said Marcos deserved to “be buried with official honors” as against 41 percent who said that he should be given a “private burial only.”

The SWS had asked a similar question in July 1998, March 2011, June 2011 and got almost similar results: it was 54 percent in July 1998; 60 percent in March 2011; and 50 percent in June 2011.

The only difference, the SWS said, is that “respondents for the July 1998, March 2011, and June 2011 surveys were Filipino adults ranging from 18 years old and above while respondents for the February 2016 survey were validated voters.”

Broken down, from Ilocos to Bicol region, 67 respondents gave an average favorable reply; Visayas gave 52 percent while Mindanao, 57 percent.

In the National Capital Region, only 40 percent favored a state burial for Marcos.

The favorable reply was stronger across sectors:

- Class ABC, 57 percent; D, 59 percent; E, 57 percent;
- urban areas, 51 percent; rural areas, 64 percent;
- male, 60 percent; female, 58 percent; 1
- 8 to 24 years old, 53 percent; 25 to 34 years old, 48 percent; 35 to 44 years old, 56 percent; 45 to 54 years old, 66 percent; 55 years old and above, 65 percent.

The choice between a state burial and a private burial for Marcos was one of some 80 questions asked of 1,800 respondents chosen from 18 different regions, or at 100 each. The survey had a margin of error of plus/minus two percent.

The other questions raised were: if the lessons of Edsa 1986 remained relevant; who was the best president the country has ever had; the choices for president, vice president, and senators in the May 2016 elections as well as the endorsement value of Mr. Aquino and other political leaders.

LIBINGAN BURIAL

Surprisingly, when the Marcos question was reformulated, respondents gave a different answer. On “whether Marcos is worthy or not worthy to be buried in the heroes’ cemetery,” the respondents were split.

The survey showed 50 percent of the 1,800 respondents said Marcos “was worthy to be buried at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani” while the other half rejected a hero’s burial for the man whose only son, Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is running for vice president in the May 9, 2016 elections, and hoping to take back Malacanang by 2020.

Still, the irony of it all, the 50-50 survey results were taken at the height of the 30th commemoration of the revolution when public opinion against the Marcoses was supposedly at its strongest. In a scathing speech at the EDSA Shrine, Mr. Aquino publicly denounced the Marcoses, made a litany of their alleged sins, and urged voters to make no mistake of sending another Marcos to the Palace.

For the second Marcos question, 70 percent of the respondents from Class ABC said Marcos “was worthy to be buried” at the Libingan ng mga Bayani; Class D, 50 percent; and Class E, 44 percent.

More people between 45 and 54 years old favored the Libingan burial at 55 percent.

Surprisingly, those belonging to 18 to 24 years old, supposedly not having little or no idea of the martial law years, were split, 50 percent favorable, 49 not favorable.

Those between 25 and 34 years old, 46 percent favorable; 35 to 44 years old, 48 percent favorable; 55 years old and above, it’s still 50-50.

In Luzon, more people favored a hero’s burial for Marcos, except in South Luzon. This time, respondents from the National Capital Region gave a favorable 58 percent.

The north and central Luzon gave an average overall of 63 percent, the highest at 85 percent coming from Region III provinces, one of which is supposedly the bailiwick of Mr. Aquino whose father, Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr., was widely believed to have been killed by Marcos’s military.

In contrast, more people in the Visayas and Mindanao gave an unfavorable reply: Visayas at 44 percent, and Mindanao, 43 percent.

Understandably, in Eastern Visayas, bailiwick of Marcos’s widow Imelda, respondents gave a resounding 63 percent, while the nearby Western Visayas gave an unfavorable 47 percent.

VP FAVORITES

A Pulse Asia-ABS CBN survey taken between February 16 and 27, again at the height of the 30th EDSA anniversary, showed the young Marcos likewise gaining strength in the vice presidential race. He and Senator Chiz Escudero were leading the pack, tied at 26 percent of 5,200 respondents, all qualified voters.

In the SWS survey commissioned by lawyer Victor Rodriguez, president of the Quezon City Trial Lawyers League, Senators Marcos and Escudero, and Camarines Sur Leni Robredo were almost at neck-and-neck in the SWS with Escudero leading the pack at 29 percent.

Senator Marcos was the choice of 24 percent of the 1,800 respondents in the survey. Robredo was the choice of 23 percent.

Rodriguez is a known friend of Senator Marcos’s wife's, lawyer Liza Araneta-Marcos.

The rest of the vice-presidential candidates in the SWS survey: Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano, 12 percent; Sen. Sonny Trillanes, six percent; Sen. Gringo Honasan, five percent; undecided, one percent.

In the presidential race, the SWS survey showed Senator Grace Poe leading the pack at 27 percent of the 1,800 respondents; Vice President Jojo Binay, 24 percent; Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, 23 percent; former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, 21 percent; and Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago, three percent; undecided, one percent.

STRONG ENDORSERS

Can Mr. Aquino make a difference on Roxas’s chances? The SWS survey asked respondents if they would vote for a candidate if endorsed by certain personalities.

Surprisingly, Binay had more endorsing power than Mr. Aquino, 33 percent and 25 percent, respectively.

Forty-one percent said they would vote for the candidate endorsed by their family; 39 percent said they would go for the candidate endorsed by the mayor; 36 percent, by barangay captain; 31 percent, by the governor; 31 percent, by their priest/minister; the 25 percent, by former President Joseph Estrada; 18 percent, by former President Fidel Ramos; and 15 percent, by Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

And who was the best president this country has ever had?

Forty percent said it was the late President Marcos who had the most accomplishments for the country; 23 percent said it was Mr. Aquino; 17 percent said it was Mrs. Aquino; eight percent said it was Mr. Estrada; six percent said it was Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo; and four percent said it was Mr. Ramos.

In the SWS survey, 41 percent said “the lesson or spirit” of the revolution “is still alive” in the SWS survey; 34 percent said it was “somewhat alive”; 16 percent said it was “somewhat not alive”; and eight percent said it was “definitely not alive.”

Forty-six percent said it was “definitely still important” to commemorate the four-day revolution; 31 percent said it was “somewhat still important”; 13 percent said it was “somewhat not important anymore”; and 11 percent said it was “definitely not important anymore.”

This survey should be an eye-opener.

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