SC allows Marcos burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 08 2016 01:05 PM | Updated as of Nov 08 2016 11:49 PM

The embalmed body of former Philippine strongman Ferdinand Marcos is seen through a sealed glass coffin inside a dimly lighted mausoleum 11 September 1993 in his northern Philippine hometown. The government denied a Manila burial to the ousted president who ruled the country for 20 years. Mr. Marcos died in exile in Hawaii in 1989 after he was ousted by a popular revolt in 1986. Romeo Gacad, AFP

Twenty-seven years after his death, and twenty-three years after his remains were flown in to the Philippines from Guam, Ferdinand Marcos will finally be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Voting 9-5 with one inhibition, the Supreme Court junked seven consolidated petitions, led by Bayan Muna Representative Satur Ocampo, that sought to block the Duterte administration's move to allow the burial of the late strongman at the heroes' cemetery.

The high court said the petitions had no merit.

Marcos died on September 28, 1989 in Honolulu, Hawaii, where he was exiled, after being ousted via the 1986 People Power Revolution at the age of 72. He died due to kidney, heart, and lung complications.

Those who filed the petitions argued that Marcos' burial at the Libingan violates Republic Act (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," tantamount to condonation of "abuses committed by the Marcos regime" and human rights violations during Martial Law; and a violation of a written agreement between the Philippine government, through former President Fidel Ramos, and the Marcos family on the interment of Marcos' remains in Ilocos Norte; among others.

The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG), meantime, pointed out the following arguments in support of government's move to allow Marcos' burial 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.

The high court had issued a status quo ante order (SQAO) last August 23, barring government from burying Marcos at LNMB for a period of twenty days; it was extended last October 18, to lapse today. Today's decision will render the halt order ineffectual.

Only fourteen justices voted on the case, following Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes' inhibition. Reyes is a classmate of President Rodrigo Duterte at the San Beda College of Law, and the president's fraternity brother in Lex Talionis Fraternitas. He is also a close friend and business partner of former President Benigno Aquino III, who appointed him to the SC.

The original ponente or writer of the decision was Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, an appointee and former cabinet member of President Aquino, who, in his draft decision, disallowed the burial of Marcos at the LNMB. Caguioa failed to convince the majority; his penned draft decision will be the main dissenting opinion.

BONGBONG THANKS DUTERTE

In a statement, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” R. Marcos Jr. thanked the high court for its majority decision.

"We are deeply grateful to the Supreme Court for its decision to allow the burial of my father, former President Ferdinand E. Marcos, at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Once again, the Supreme Court has taken a magnanimous act to uphold the rule of law.

He also thanked President Duterte for supporting the burial in the heroes' cemetery.

"We also would like to extend our sincerest gratitude to President Rodrigo Duterte as his unwavering commitment to this issue sustained us these past several months. Our family will forever be thankful for his kind gesture," he said.

"It is our sincerest hope that this will lead the nation towards healing as we endeavor to move the country forward to give every Filipino a better life."