Martial law survivor asks SC to reverse Marcos burial

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 28 2016 12:03 PM

Former first lady Imelda Marcos kisses a glass case containing the refrigerated remains of her late husband, former Philippines president Ferdinand Marcos, during a visit in Batac, Ilocas Norte, Northern Philippines 11 September 2005, to mark his 88th birthday anniversary. Imelda Marcos supported President Gloria Arroyo during a failed impeachment bid earlier this month, leading to speculation that Arroyo would finally grant the Marcos family's wish to inter the remains of the former president at the National Heroes' Cemetery in Manila. Jay Directo, AFP

MANILA - Martial Law survivor and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has asked the High Court to reverse the burial of Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on behalf of the desaparecidos or those who went missing at the height of the dictatorship.

In a statement, Lagman said, ""It is not hard to comprehend that the interment of Marcos in the Cemetery of Heroes is inextricably intertwined with the late dictator's imposition of martial law which spawned inordinate oppression, corruption and plunder for 14 ignominious years and even beyond."

"It is not difficult to understand that allowing his burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is a veritable honor accorded to a disgraced President and Commander-in-Chief who was deposed by the sovereign people for having committed grievous sins against the Filipino people as acknowledged by no less than the Honorable Supreme Court in a number of landmark decisions and validated by foreign judicial tribunals."

Lagman said Marcos' burial is an impediment to the continuing quest for justice for the victims of martial law, adding that it "perpetuates the impunity of his transgressions and mocks the unfinished task of recovering his hoard of ill-gotten wealth."

"These are the very reasons why the Marcos burial in LNMB transcends politics. These are the very reasons why President Duterte's policy on burying Marcos in the LNMB is not a political question which is beyond the judicial scalpel to excise.

"These are the very reasons why such a policy is flawed and its implementation is tainted with gross abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction because it violates the Constitution, relevant statues and pertinent decisions of the Honorable Supreme Court, all of which are justiciable.

"It is not remote to realize that the Marcos burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is a gross distortion, a malevolent revision and a wanton derogation of Philippine history."

Specks of light emerge from a sea of black as protesters hold their phones up in the air during the "Black Friday" protest in Luneta. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Lagman invoked the following grounds for reconsideration:

1. Marcos' burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) will not lead to closure.

2. AFP Regulations G 161-375 dated September 11, 2002 issued by the Department of National Defense is not effective and enforceable, and consequently, it could not be the basis for the interment of Marcos in the LNMB.

3. There are laws and Supreme Court decisions which militate against and effectively prohibit the Marcos burial in the LNMB.

4. The message of the EDSA people power revolution is clear and resounding: Marcos was ousted for being a despot, plunderer and violator of human rights.

5. When the totality of Marcos as a man is weighed in the balance, whatever achievements he has done for the country are completely nullified by his cardinal sins against the nation, for which he is not entitled to be buried in the LNMB.

6. The Marcos family had waived his burial in the LNMB 24 years ago.

7. The petitions do not involve a political question, which is an almost extinct invocation.

8. Respondents committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

9. Petitioners have legal personality to file cases, did not violate the "hierarchy of courts" doctrine, and did not have to exhaust administrative remedies.

10. Ferdinand Edralin Marcos does not deserve the honor of being interred in the Libingan ng mga Bayani even as a former President and soldier per se.

Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos is interviewed, March 11, 1985, by Georges Biannic, Agence France Presse regional director for Asia and the Pacific, at Malacanang Palace in Manila. AFP Photo / Romeo Gacad

Lagman said that no closure would be achieved if it is at the expense of the victims of the brutalities and corruption of Marcos' martial law regime, and for the hollow gratification and flawed vindication of a tyrant and his heirs.

He added that the speed and stealth by which the Marcos burial was carried out by the immediate members of the Marcos family shows their incorrigible addiction to deception, underhandedness and abuse, which the Supreme Court must never condone.

According to Lagman, the majority decision erred in solely basing the burial of Marcos in the LMNB on AFP Regulations G 161-375 because the said issuance by the Department of National Defense is not effective and enforceable for absence of registration with the Office of the National Administrative Registrar (ONAR) of the University of the Philippine Law Center as required by the Administrative Code of 1987.

Lagman renewed his plea for the exhumation of "whatever was interred as Marcos mortal remains" at the LMNB on 18 November 2016 despite the lack of finality of the challenged Decision together with its ancillary directive lifting the Status Quo Ante Order.

He also prayed for the forensic examination on whatever is exhumed to determine what actually was buried at the LMNB.

He sought the reversal of the decision and the issuance of a writ of prohibition enjoining the public respondents from implementing the order of President Duterte on the Marcos burial.