By Paterno Esmaquel II
‘Burying the dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani will not heal our wounded country,’ Jesuit groups say
MANILA, Philippines – Groups linked to the Jesuits, the religious order running the Ateneo de Manila University, issued a statement rejecting a hero’s burial for the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
“Burying the dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery) buries human dignity by legitimizing the massive violations of human and civil rights, especially of the right to life, that took place under his regime,” the Jesuit groups said in a statement Thursday, August 18.
“Burying the dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani will not heal our wounded country,” they added, rebutting President Rodrigo Duterte’s assertion that a hero’s burial for Marcos will bring “healing” for the Philippines.
JJICSI and SLB began during the turbulent Marcos years.
JJICSI was born in 1984 to address the need for options in the face of “the already desperate situation” during the Marcos regime, a write-up on its website said.
SLB, for its part, began as an election watchdog during the fraudulent 1986 snap elections won by Marcos.
The other signatory, ISO, was established in 1947 and is involved in “promoting the liberation of the marginalized sectors in society.”
Duterte and the Jesuits
The statement of ISO, JJICSI, and SLB is open for more signatures of groups associated with the Jesuits, formally known as the Society of Jesus.
The Society of Jesus is the largest male religious order in the Catholic Church. The order is known for its schools around the world.
The Jesuits run several Ateneo schools in the Philippines – in Cagayan, Davao, Manila, Naga, Iloilo, Cebu, and Zamboanga.
Duterte himself studied at the Ateneo de Davao.
Duterte, whose father served as a Cabinet member of the late dictator, wants a hero’s burial for Marcos.
The President said Marcos deserves a hero’s burial because he is a soldier and a former president, and this is supposedly allowed under Philippine laws. Three petitions have been filed before the Supreme Court seeking to stop the burial, anchored on existing laws and the 1987 Constitution.
Hero’s burial ‘buries justice’
Jesuit groups, however, listed other arguments against Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani:
- “Burying the dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani buries truth by perpetuating the myth of Marcos’ achievements as a leader, distorting the valuable lessons of history that we pass on to our young, and confusing them about what constitutes heroism.”
- “Burying the dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani buries justice by justifying the shameless corruption of the dictator, his family, and the oligarchy of cronies he created. It violates the moral values we cherish as a nation by rewarding wrong and making it seem right.”
- “Burying the dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani buries solidarity by denying the pain and anguish of the many victims of human rights violations and their families, the misery of the poor who suffered most under Marcos’ development policies, and the sacrifices of those who fought to restore the country’s fallen democratic institutions.”
- “Burying the dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani buries peace by erasing the memory of the violence that his regime inflicted on our nation.”
- “Burying the dictator in the Libingan ng mga Bayani buries genuine empowerment by legitimizing the concentration of power in a single leader and the suppression of democratic rights and participation under his regime, and by negating the triumph of the empowered popular movement that unseated him.”
The original signatories told others in Jesuit communities: “We ask you, our sisters and brothers, to consider our position on this issue. And if this position resonates with you, we enjoin you to unite with us in calling upon President Duterte to reconsider his decision and find a resolution to this issue that will bring about genuine reconciliation with justice for all.”
Like the Jesuit signatories, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) earlier opposed the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Composed of more than 1,200 Catholic schools, CEAP said, “He was not a hero.”
On August 24, the Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on consolidated petitions against a hero’s burial for Marcos.