I had just turned seven when tanks rolled down EDSA hoping to take out General Fidel Ramos and Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile. I did not hear Jaime Cardinal Sin reach out, using Radio Veritas, calling the people to take to the streets. I wasn’t there when ordinary people, citizens, nuns, priests, rich, and poor stood their ground at EDSA. I did not see the 10th President of the Philippines fly out of Manila, under the protection of the United States, and into exile in Hawaii. President Corazon Aquino who took office when Marcos fled did so under a revolutionary government.
In short, I was not there to be witness to revolution, but it was a revolution.
Charges were filed against Marcos, and his family. Holdings seized. The Marcos family has since returned to the Philippines. Illocos, their home province has welcomed them with open arms. The Marcos children have been elected to office. Mrs. Marcos herself was voted into office by the people from her home province of Lyte to represent them in Congress. So 20 years and so later, The Philippines and Mr. Marcos are still embroiled in litigation with no end in sight, and the Marcos family have returned to power, however diminished.
And the House of Representatives recently signed House resolution 1135 urging that Mr. Marcos be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, Manila’s version of Arlington. The resolution was authored by Representative Salvador H. Escudero III.
The Marcos family insists that the late president be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. And a school of thought persist that, “say what you will about the man, but he was a soldier, and he deserves to be buried there.” Former AFP Chief of Staff and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes, embroiled in controversy, had shot himself to death recently was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the same critics argue.
The degree of separation is vast.
Mr. Marcos was president for 20 years. There are many open ended questions during his reign: money lost, notwithstanding. Then there are reports that people were lost and never to return when he was president.
On the one hand, people still say Mr. Marcos was a good man, and was a good president. It is obvious that the Marcos family still has clout. Bongbong Marcos, son and heir to the Marcos political family was elected Senator just as Noynoy Aquino became president. To the Marcos family supporters, Ferdinand Marcos was not the villain of the story, he was their hero. And such is life.
Why is there ambivalence in allowing Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani?
Yes, Mr. Marcos was not found guilty in a court of law. The Marcos family wealth, and the Philippines’ claim on it is still under litigation, but the biggest and certain court had already passed judgement on Mr. Marcos. On February 25, 1986, Ferdinand Marcos was ousted from office, and the nations of the world recognized the legitimacy of Mrs. Aquino’s government. That, beyond a reasonable doubt made Mr. Marcos guilty, and forfeited any right Mr. Marcos may have had as a soldier to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. To allow Mr. Marcos to be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani would be an affront.
As clear as day, the move to have Mr. Marcos buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani has nothing to do with the former president being a soldier and being honored as one. It has nothing to do with his stature as a former president. It has everything to do for a bid for power, and to restore the Marcos family name.
History had passed her judgement on Mr. Marcos. Let us not rewrite it. Let us move forward.