Urges SC to junk petitions vs Marcos burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani
"President Duterte understands that if this country really intends to extricate itself from the quagmire it is presently embroiled in, history must be viewed differently... President Duterte's order to allow former President Marcos' interment at the [Libingan ng mga Bayani] is based on his determination that it shall promote national healing and forgiveness, and redound to the benefit of the Filipino people."
This was stressed by the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) in its comment on consolidated petitions before the Supreme Court (SC) against the impending burial of late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Libingan).
Solicitor General Jose Calida argued that President Duterte, in ordering Marcos' interment at the Libingan, was performing powers granted to him by the Constitution as well as the Administrative Code.
"In the exercise of his powers under the Constitution and the Administrative Code, President Duterte, in his wisdom, deems it appropriate to inter the remains of former President Marcos in a parcel of land of the public domain devoted for the purpose of being a military shrine, and recognize his being a former President, a Medal of Valor awardee, a member of the retired military personnel, and a war veteran," the OSG said.
The OSG raised the following arguments in defense of Marcos' interment at the Libingan:
- Marcos was, in life, a President, Commander-in-Chief, retired military veteran and Medal of Valor awardee, and thus, may be interred at the Libingan pursuant to [Armed Forces of the Philippines] Regulations G 161-375;
- Marcos, prior to his death, possessed none of the disqualifications from being interred at the Libingan, as stated in AFP Regulations G 161-375;
- the recognition and reparation of human rights violations victims under Republic Act No. 10368 (An Act Providing for Preparation and Recognition of Victims of Human Rights Violations During the Marcos Regime) would not be impaired by the interment of former President Marcos at the Libingan;
- the interment of Marcos' remains at the Libingan is not contrary to public policy;
- the interment of Marcos' remains at the Libingan does not contravene the principles and policies enshrined in the 1987 Constitution;
- the interment of Marcos' remains at the Libingan does not violate the Philippines' obligations under International Law and norms; and,
- the President is not bound by the alleged 1993 Agreement between former President Fidel V. Ramos and the Marcos family to have the remains of former President Marcos interred at Batac, Ilocos Norte.
'NOT SUBJECT TO SC INTERVENTION'
The OSG said that the consolidated petitions against Marcos' burial at the Libingan do not pose a justiciable issue, meaning these do not involve a matter that must be raised before the courts
The OSG stressed that the petitions are "political" in nature since these assail Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana's memorandum, dated August 7, 2016, addressed to AFP Chief of Staff General Ricardo Visaya informing him of the verbal orders of the President on July 11 regarding Marcos' burial at the Libingan for purposes of planning and coordination for said burial.
The OSG argued that the judicial department cannot weigh in on the validlity of the President's determination of whether or not Marcos' remains deserve a spot at the Libingan.
"Petitioners question the memorandum and directive with respect to the interment of former President Marcos arguing that the Libingan is 'reserved only for the decent and the brave.' Petitioners' thesis readliy reveals the political, and, hence, non-justiciable nature of their petitions.
"It is concerned with issues dependent upon the wisdom, not legality, of a particular measure," the OSG said.
HUMAN RIGHTS VICTIMS
While petitioners claim they filed the petitions as victims of human rights violations during Martial Law under the Marcos regime, the OSG countered that they do not have the legal standing over the case since, apart from not being able to establish that they are human rights violations victims (HRVVs) under RA No. 10368, petitioners "do not have personal, material and substantial interest in preventing the interment of the late President Marcos at the Libingan."
The OSG maintained this position even granting that petitioners satisfy all requirements under the law as HRVVs, the comment stated.
"The undeniable fact is that they will not sustain any legal injury by virtue of the former President's remains being buried at the said military shrine," the OSG said.
The OSG argued that petitioners' claims for compensation as HRVVs are "distinct and separate from, and cannot in any way be connected to, the intended burial" and petitioners cannot also insist that Marcos' burial at the Libingan would affect their search for his "ill-gotten wealth."
It was pointed out that HRVVs' claim for compensation under RA No. 10368 will remain unaffected since the principal source of funds for the reparation, P10-billion plus accrued interest transferred to the Philippine government, remains intact and will be released after the Human Rights Victims' Claims Board (HRVCB) has approved all the claims. The OSG said petitioners failed to establish that any or their rights or privileges had been, or are about to be, denied.
The OSG also raised procedural infirmities committed by petitioners, such as their failure to observe the hierarchy of courts and exhaustion of administrative remedies.
The OSG urged the high court to thumb down petitioners' plea for temporary restraining order (TRO) and junk the consolidated petitions.
Separate petitions were filed by former Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, et al., Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, et al., and former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales.
FOURTH PETITION FILED
Another petition assailing Marcos' burial at the Libingan was filed before the high court on Monday morning. Petitioners were led by former Senator Heherson Alvarez and film director Joel Lamangan.
Petitioners argued that the impending burial violates the Constitution and RA No. 289 (An Act Providing for the Construction of a National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes and Patriots of the Country).
They said Marcos "is one who is unworthy of inspiration of emulation" and "committed atrocious crimes against the Filipino people during his regime."
"Petitioners submit that these acts make him unworthy of an honor intended to inspire or be emulated by the current and future generations," the petition read.
The OSG comment, meantime, pointed out petitioners are proceeding from a "wrong premise;" the OSG argued that the Libingan is not the National Pantheon referred to under RA No. 289.
The OSG insists that there exists no National Pantheon to this day since it was supposed to be erected at East Avenue in Quezon City by virtue of Proclamation No. 431 issued by President Elpidio Quirino on December 23, 1953, which failed to materialize.
Alvarez, et al. meantime simultaneously filed an urgent motion for their inclusion in Wednesday's oral arguments on the consolidated petitions.