MANILA - The Catholic Church in the Philippines may have been a key factor in the ousting of former President Ferdinand Marcos, but after his surprise interment at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Friday, at least one of its leaders has called for prayers and respect for the late dictator.
In an interview with the Church-run Radio Veritas, Lipa Archbishop Ramon Arguelles said that while he understands the plight of the victims of the Marcos regime, he reminded Catholics that dwelling on hate is not being godly.
"Kung tayo ay maka-Diyos, kahit na iyan ay diktador, basta patay na iyan, 'pagdasal natin ang kaluluwa niya. Ang katawan niya igalang natin," the prelate said.
(If we are godly, even though he was a dictator, since he is already dead, we should pray for his soul. We should respect his remains.)
He also insisted that the spirit of the EDSA Revolution will not fade despite Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
"Nagkasala siya. Hindi natin sasabihin na mabuti ang ginawa niya pero huwag naman natin siyang kamuhian ngayong patay na siya," Arguelles added.
(He was a sinner. We are not saying that what he did was good, but we should not abhor him.)
Instead of dwelling on hate, the archbishop called on the Filipino people to learn from the lessons of Martial Law, value freedom, and uphold democracy in the country.
"Paano, napakasama ng ginagawa natin sa kalayaan na ipinaglaban natin. 'Yun ang mahirap. Sa akin, we get what we deserve. Because we don't try our best na talagang i-value 'yung freedom na ipinaglaban natin," the prelate said.
(How did the freedom we fought for come to this? That's the hardest part. For me, we get what we deserve, because we didn't try our best to really value the freedom we fought for.)
But for Bishop Broderick Pabillo, auxiliary of the Manila archdiocese, Marcos' interment at the Libingan ng mga Bayani was a disgrace and very characteristic of the dictator's rule.
"This burial is dishonorable because they hide it from the people for fear of the people. It is characteristic of the Marcos rule–secretive," Pabillo said in a report from the CBCP News.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, an officer of a CBCP committee, said Marcos will always be remembered as a "dictator, plunderer, and a human rights violator."
"With his burial, the Marcoses have desecrated the meaning of honor, nobility and heroism that are otherwise associated with the hallowed ground,” he added.
Before the surprise burial, CBCP President and Lingayen Archbishop Socrates Villegas had issued a statement slamming the Supreme Court's decision to allow Marcos' burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Villegas served as secretary for the late Jaime Cardinal Sin, the late archbishop of Manila who was one of the first to rally Filipinos, by delivering a message over Radio Varitas, to go to EDSA in February 1986 for a people power revolt against the Marcos dictatorship.