Decision to bury FM at LNMB well within Duterte’s Executive Powers – OSG

Decision to bury FM at LNMB well within Duterte’s Executive Powers – OSG

MANILA — The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) on Monday said the decision to bury former President Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City is within the executive powers of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

OSG Chief Jose Calida submitted Monday an 86-page comment on the three petitions and the application for Temporary Restraining Order filed by victims of human rights violation during the Martial Law years before the Supreme Court,

In an 86-page comment, the Department of National Defense (DND) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) claimed that the decision of President Duterte to allow hero’s burial for Marcos was a valid exercise of his prerogative power under the Constitution and the Administrative Code.

“Petitioners question the memorandum and directive with respect to the interment of former President Marcos arguing that the Libingan is ‘reserved only for the decent and the brave.’ Petitioners’ thesis readily reveals the political, and, hence, non-justiciable nature of their petitions,” said in the comment.

The government also downplayed the claims of human rights violations during martial law era and corruption under Marcos regime as irrelevant to the case.

Calida also said that Marcos was entitled to the privilege of interment at the Libingan under AFP rules – being a former president, commander-in-chief, retired military veteran and Medal of Valor awardee, adding that the late dictator did not possess any of the disqualifications provided in the same rules.

He also explained that President Duterte, in his wisdom, deems it appropriate to inter the remains of former President Marcos in a parcel of land of the public domain devoted for the purpose of being a military shrine, and recognize his being a former President, a Medal of Valor awardee, a member of the retired military personnel, and a war veteran.

Calida further argued that the decision to allow Marcos’ burial at the Libingan is not contrary to public policy, does not contravene the principles and policies enshrined in the Constitution and does not violate the country’s obligations under international laws.

The solicitor general explained that President Duterte is not bound by the 1993 agreement between then President Fidel Ramos and the Marcos family to have the remains of former President Marcos interred at Batac, Ilocos Norte, which was invoked by petitioners.

He also assured that the burial would not affect claims for compensation under RA No. 10368 (An Act Providing for Preparation and Recognition of Victims of Human Rights Violations During the Marcos Regime), since the Php10-billion funds for the reparation remain intact and will be released upon approval of the Human Rights Victims’ Claims Board (HRVCB).

He pointed out that Marcos needed not be a hero to be entitled to such privilege as the Libingan ng mga Bayani is not exclusive to fallen heroes.

Calida also rebutted petitioners’ citation of Republic Act No. 289 (law regulating a heroes’ cemetery), saying such law covers not the Libingan but rather the national pantheon, which was supposed to be built at East Avenue in Quezon City by virtue of Proclamation No. 431 issued by President Elpidio Quirino on Dec. 23, 1953 but did not materialize.

Meanwhile, in separate comment, the heirs of former President Ferdinand Marcos told the SC that allegations of human rights violations during the Martial Law years were irrelevant on the issue of his burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City.

Through their legal counsel Hyacinth Rafael Antonio, Marcos’ heirs said the allegations of the arrest and torture of the petitioners could not be imputed to the former President.

“Since the purported standing of the petitioners is predicated on those facts and would require the presentation of evidence and the factual determination beyond the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, this by itself will warrant dismissal of the petition,” the comment said adding that it is also irrelevant to the issue at hand.

“Petitioners’ being victims of Martial Law atrocities which would entail a right to reparation, has nothing to do with the act sought to be enjoined,” the comment further said.

Likewise, they said that the petitioners cannot argued that the order issued by President Rodrigo Duterte to the Department of Defense and the Armed Forces of the Philippines allowing Marcos’ burial at the Libingan cannot be said to have been ordered in grave abuse of discretion.

They said the petitioners failed to present evidence showing that the order was made in a capricious or whimsical manner so as to constitute grave abuse of discretion.

The comments were filed in response to three petitions filed last week by different groups of martial law victims led by former Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Satur Ocampo, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and former Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales.

Both parties met at the SC on Monday for preliminary conference to set the issues to be tackled in the oral arguments set on Aug. 24. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA/