MANILA - Former Senator Juan Ponce Enrile sees no reason why former President Ferdinand Marcos should be barred from being buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
"Karapatan ba ni Presidente Marcos na mailibing doon sa Libingan ng mga Bayani? Oo karapatan nya. Bilang pangulo, bilang sundalo," Enrile told members of the media during a briefing at the Manila Hotel Monday morning.
Enrile, who served as former Minister of Defense during the Marcos administration, said a hero's burial for the late strongman was a non-issue.
"Naging Presidente siya bago diyan naging sundalo siya, opisyal. Dapat lang na mailibing si Presidente Marcos doon sa libingan ng mga Pilipino na nagserbisyo sa bayan natin na kagaya niya [He was a president. Before that he was a soldier, an official. He should be accorded the same rights]," he explained.
Enrile, whose withdrawal of support for Marcos in a crucial moment in February 1986 and led to the EDSA People Power Revolution, was however quick to clarify that the burial issue has nothing to do with People Power.
"Ibang salitain yun, ibang isyu yun. We are talking of Marcos as Marcos the president. Whether he is entitled to buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. That is only a characterization of that place. Not all the people buried there can be considered heroes. Whether they have medals or not, they are entitled to be buried there because the law says they must be buried there," he said.
Enrile however considers Marcos, who is a Medal of Valor awardee, as a hero.
"If we study what study what Marcos did over the time that he was President of the country not anyone could equal his record, except that he declared Martial Law to save this country, not his self interest," he said.
The former senator said that he will attend the former president's burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, having been invited as a former Cabinet member.
Another Marcos Cabinet member, former Minister for Public Information and ex-senator Kit Tatad, believes that Marcos' burial could benefit the country.
"Makatutulong po sa pagkakaisa ng ating bayan na mailibing na ng matahimik ang mga laman ni President Marcos [His burial will help unite us as a nation]," he said.
Tatad said that Marcos, under the law, has the right to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
The former senator also took a swipe at human rights victims who are against the Marcos burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. He also expressed concerns that the burial issue might be used as a ''bargaining chip'' by communists in the ongoing peace talks with the government.
"Kung hindi nagkaroon ng Martial Law, baka po ang gobyerno natin ay komunista [If Martial Law was not declared, we would have a communist government]."