MANILA - One of the petitioners in the Marcos burial case has urged the high court on Monday to hold the Marcos family and key defense and military officials in contempt of court for burying the remains of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani last week.
Former Bayan Muna Rep. Saturnino Ocampo argued that the November 8, 2016 decision of the Supreme Court (SC), which thumbed down any legal challenge to the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the LNMB, is not yet final and executory, hence the burial should not have been carried out.
Ocampo and his co-petitioners in the first case said that since the 15-day period for filing of a motion for reconsideration (MR) has not yet lapsed, the Marcoses, along with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief of Staff Ricardo Visaya and Rear Admiral Ernesto Enriquez, deputy chief of staff for reservist and retiree affairs, should be held in indirect contempt for violation of the Rules of Court.
Ocampo, et al. specifically argued that respondents violated Section 3 (d), Rule 71, which covers "improper conduct tending, directly or indirectly, to impede, obstruct, or degrade the administration of justice" as one of the grounds for indirect contempt.
"Marcos, Sr.’s burial at the [LNMB] was made deceitfully and dishonestly without any moral compunction... The cunning and brazen disregard and mockery by the Marcos family and the public respondents of the legal process is evident in the manner by which the burial was conducted," the group's 17-page petition read.
Marcos' remains were flown in from Ilocos Norte before 12 noon last Friday, and buried thereafter at the LNMB with military honors. No announcement was made prior to the interment, which caught the public by surprise and caused a series of protests in different parts of the country.
Ocampo, et al. called the burial "hasty, shady and tricky," and accused respondents of bad faith.
"Public respondents were well aware of the judicial process and yet trifled with the same in shameless and utter bad faith when they obviously connived with the Marcos family in planning the lightning burial and with impunity consistent with the Marcos blueprint – with stealth and deception to jump the gun on [the SC], the nation and the world," the petition read.
Petitioners argued that they received a copy of the SC decision on November 11, the same day they filed a motion for a stay of the execution of the ruling.
"It should well be noted that the decision in the main case has yet to become final and executory. More specially so that under the circumstances, in the case of the instant petitioners, they have until the 26th of November 2016 within which to file a [MR] of the aforesaid decision, a legal remedy that they formally manifested to do so, in abundante cautela, in their 'extremely urgent motion to hold in abeyance' of 11 November 2016," the petition read.
They further stressed that the decision would only become final and executory if no appeal is lodged upon the lapse of the 15-day reglementary period.
And while the high court, in its decision, ordered the lifting of the status quo ante order (SQAO) it had earlier issued on the Marcos burial, petitioners said this "does not give the respondents the right to automatically or immediately bury the remains of Marcos, Sr. at the Libingan without the decision having attained finality."
"The hasty, shady and tricky burial of the dictator Marcos, Sr. at the [LNMB] despite the existence of the right, under the rules, of the petitioners to move for the reconsideration of the decision... degrades the honorable court and is contemptuous in itself," the petition read.
"NO MORE HALT ORDER"
The high court, through its public information office chief, Atty. Theodore Te, clarified on Friday that there no longer exists any order "that stops the act (Marcos' burial at LNMB) at the moment."
"The status as of Nov. 8 up to today is that the petitions [against the burial] are dismissed and the [SQAO] is lifted," Te told journalists in a text message.
Petitioners' plea for a stay of decision, pending their filing of MR, or issuance of another halt order was not acted upon by the high court during its most recent en banc session on November 15.
In dismissing the consolidated petitions, and effectively giving the burial the green light, the high court said President Duterte violated no law in allowing Marcos' remains to be interred at the LNMB, stressing that not only was Marcos a former president and armed forces commander-in-chief, he was also a retired soldier, war veteran, former defense secretary, legislator, and recipient of the Medal of Valor, the highest honors bestowed by the Philippine military.
The high court ruled that there was no grave abuse of discretion on the part of the president since Marcos was not disqualified under military regulations to be buried in the military shrine. The high court further said the LNMB is under the supervision of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO), an office under the defense department, which, in turn, is a department directly under the Office of the President.
In its decision, the high court stressed that it is not rewriting history, but only performed its mandate to rule on the basis of law.
"To do otherwise would lead the court to the treacherous and perilous path of having to make choices from multifarious inferences of theories arising from the various acts of the people."
"There are certain things that are better left for history - not this court - to adjudge. The court could only do so much in accordance with the clearly established rules and principles," the SC decision read.