Senator Alan Peter Cayetano on Friday appealed to the Marcos family to think of the national good amid the polarizing debate over the looming hero's burial for the late President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
"If sana hindi na lang sila tumatakbo, hindi na sila public officials, and then gusto nilang linisin yung pangalan nila, they want the honor na nasa Libingan ng mga Bayani, we would understand that," he said.
Saying he is not in favor of the plans to move the late strongman's remains to the heroes' cemetery, Cayetano told ANC's Headstart he believes the Marcos family should have taken it upon themselves to not insist on the heroes' burial for their patriarch.
"Ano ba naman yung pamilya nila yung magsabi na, ‘you know what, it’s so divisive. Thank you, President Duterte; sorry for putting this on your shoulders, sorry for putting this on the shoulder of past presidents. Dito na lang. Gagawa kami ng napaka-gandang libingan, isang area to honor the Marcos good deeds dito sa Ilocos'," he told Karen Davila.
That way, he added, only people who wish to see and honor Marcos would go there.
"Sa Libingan ng mga Bayani, you’ll have two groups going there—one group who likes him, the other group who wants to spit on their grave because may kamag-anak silang na-torture, missing, or biktima ng martial law," he said.
Preparations are now underway for the transfer of the late dictator's remains, which are currently in his hometown in Ilocos Norte, after President Rodrigo Duterte gave it the green light.
READ: DND issues memo on Marcos burial at heroes' cemetery
Cayetano, who was Duterte's running mate in the May polls, twitted Marcos' only son and namesake Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., while they both gunned for the vice-presidency.
In one of the televised debates, Cayetano hit the younger Marcos, saying $10-billion was stolen by the Marcos family during the martial law rule of his father, and alleged that the then-senator also nicked people's money through anomalous transactions with his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF).
READ: Cayetano attacks Bongbong on ill-gotten wealth
Cayetano meanwhile insisted that the president may not have meant to alter history with the decision to allow the interment at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
He said that if the cemetery was renamed "Libingan ng mga Bayani at ng Diktador," it would not have spurred such outburst.
"At least dun sa mga biktima, ang dating sa kanila, hindi natin nililinis yung pangalan [ni Marcos]," he said.
Cayetano said Duterte was simply following the letter of the law.
"I don’t think the president has any intention to make a historic judgment sa mga Marcoses. Ang sa kaniya lang, ano ba ang batas? Qualified ba siya? Bakit natin pinipigilan?," he said.
Despite their disagreement on whether or not the late strongman should be buried among the country's heroes, Cayetano maintained Duterte's decision to stand by the law is right.
READ: Duterte: Follow the law on hero's burial for Marcos
"The president is absolutely correct that if you look at the law—at least, until now, wala pa naming nagfa-file na violation ‘to ng law—yung mga sundalo na nililibing doon, for as long as hindi ka discharged dishonorably or yung mga may problema," he said.
When the law is clear, he said, then its spirit and its letter ceases to be relevant. This concept, he said, was only invented by lawyers.
"The spirit lang naman nung law is that pag nag-serve ka sa bansa mo, pwede kang ilibing doon. Kaya lang itinawag ‘bayani’ kasi nag-serve ka. Nung ginawa yung law, hindi naman natin na-predict na mayroong magiging pangulo na magiging despotic," he said.