LEGAZPI CITY — The planned burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Hero’s Cemetery) on Sept. 18 will put a closure to the dilemma which has divided the nation for the past 30 years, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda (2nd district) said.
Based on regulations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, deceased persons such as awardees of the Medal of Valor, presidents, secretaries of national defense, Armed Forces chiefs of staff, generals and flag officers, and members of the uniformed services are qualified to be buried at the Libingan.
Salceda said the same rules said those personnel, who have been dishonorably discharged from service or convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude, do not qualify for interment and burial at the LNMB.
“Former President Ferdinand E. Marcos died before he could be convicted,” said the solon.
Salceda said for 30 years now, the nation has agonized about this but those who opposed Marcos had been “given the chance” to rule the country.
The Albay lawmaker was referring to former presidents Corazon Aquino (seven years), Fidel Ramos (six years), Benigno Aquino III (six years) or “even debatably” the nine years of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo..”
“Twenty-eight years of anti-Marcos regimes (or except for two years of the past 30 years) or two generations of ruling coalitions should have been enough democratic space to change the law ruling on burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani,” said Salceda.
He said there should be the same political will to change law on burial at the LNMB in the same way past government were able to “write a new new Constitution with the best social justice provisions…to legislate compensation for human rights victims…named our airport…Ninoy Aquino International Airport.”
“The fact is we have failed to memorialize the demons of the Marcos regime,” he added.
Salceda said out of the country’s 103 million population, 59.96 million could be deemed as “millennials” or those born since 1985 or who could use a cellphone by 1992.
He said these millennials “have no memory of martial law.”
Salceda said during the 2016 presidential campaign, Pres. Rodrigo Duterte had been clear and transparent about his plan to bury Marcos in Libingan.
“He won overwhelmingly by a margin of over 6 million votes,” added Salceda.
He said Vice Pres. Leni Robredo’s win over Bongbong Marcos, son of former president Marcos, in the vice presidential race can somehow be seen as the people’s rejection of the (sins) of Marcos’ past, “even if the margin was thin (and being protested) which dilutes the level of rejection.”
“Some or even many say burying Marcos in LNMB will not heal our division or allow our nation to move on. But I dare say that not burying Marcos as allowed by law and as wished by his family has been deeply dividing the nation for the past 30 years,” he added.
He said burying Marcos in LNMB will not make him a hero, as critics say.
“What is holding me is whether it makes a mockery of the sacrifices of the human rights victims of martial law,” Salceda said.
He said the country has had to deal with victims of social injustice and human rights violations through each administration in varying degrees, “from state omission and state-tolerated to state-sponsored.”
He said those who have fallen in fighting Marcos did so for something higher — better lives for our people.
“It is also a moral choice to honor them– that I will continue to be inspired by their sacrifices and the grief of their widows and orphaned children,” he added.
“Only history will judge the correctness of our judgment that our nation will be better off in burying Marcos in LNMB to close a dark chapter that has haunted and a past that has shackled our worldview of our future as a people,” said Salceda.
Weighing the choices to be made, he urged the people to respect the decision and the “executive prerogative” of the President in executing the law and that is to bury at the Libingan a former president who “has not been convicted for an offense involving moral turpitude.” Alan Tan/PNA/northboundasia.com