Ex-NHCP Chair: Duterte snubbed our study on Marcos

Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 30 2016 11:16 AM | Updated as of Nov 30 2016 11:33 AM

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte gave no reply to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines' (NHCP) paper on former President Ferdinand Marcos, the agency's former chairperson said Wednesday.

In an interview with ANC's Headstart, Maria Serena Diokno said they sent a copy of their paper entitled, "Why Ferdinand E. Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani" to Duterte on July 12.

"We went through the works and we sent him the study on July 12. No reply, no response," she said.

Having not received a reply by August 5, the commission made public its study by uploading it to their website.

Days after, the Department of National Defense (DND) issued a formal memorandum instructing the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to plan and prepare the interment of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Around this time, no case has been filed yet at the Supreme Court, but Diokno maintained that per the law that directs the NHCP to advise the president and congress on historical matters, "so we thought this was the route we would take."

After the Supreme Court came out with its decision, she said, she again wrote to Duterte but still received no reply.

"Nonetheless, I issued, I wrote the president an appeal, which I also made public, and I also received no reply," she said.

Asked if she believes Duterte was open to hearing a different point-of-view other than what he has, Diokno, who stepped down from her post Tuesday, said, "It seems not."

"It seems not. You can’t blame us for trying—we did and we went through a study, well-documented, but it appears, his mind has been made up early on," she said.


Protesters gather outside Palma Hall in University of the Philippines Diliman, Quezon City, where they condemned the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani on Friday. The exact date of the burial was kept secret by the Marcos family, taking the general public by surprise. Fernando Sepe, ABS-CBN News

In her resignation letter, Diokno lambasted the Duterte government for "ignoring" history when it allowed the hero's burial of the late dictator.

"At this moment in our history, every voice counts, and I wish to place mine on the side of History; not the history that the Duterte government ignores, but the History that beckons our people to demand justice that even the highest court of the land will not bestow," she said.

In the interview, Diokno recalled that she had been mulling about stepping down and she took her visit to Cebu last week as an opportunity to reflect on what step she should take.

Ultimately, it was the young Filipinos who inspired her.

Diokno, a university professor, noted that students would normally "love to hate" history subjects, and would probably not take it had it not been among the core general education subjects.

"But listening to the speeches during the rally, what I read, what I saw, almost in every statement by a young person, history was invoked and never have I seen such understanding and appreciation of history as now," she said.

Diokno said her staff and several other historians also held her back, urging her not to leave to "watch over the gate to make sure that it would remain factual and honest," but the youth had proven to her that safeguarding history is not solely her or the commission's job.

"When I saw the actions of the young people, I said, ‘they’re guarding our history. This is the responsibility of not just one person, the chair or a single agency, but of all of us," she said.

She had vowed to join the protests set to begin Wednesday afternoon across different places, this time as an individual, a Filipino historian.