The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ surprise burial at Manila’s heroes’ cemetery was greeted with widespread street protests Friday by outraged students, martial law victims and politicians who likened the former president’s family to a “thief in the night” as the rest of the country quietly slept.
Former President Benigno Aquino III, whose father and namesake was assassinated in 1983 by Marcos forces, said stories of courage and sacrifice during martial law “should never be forgotten” in the face of Marcos’ transfer at Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Loved ones lost
“Former President Aquino believes at a time like this, it is fitting that we hear the voices of others: learn about their stories, the persons behind the statistics, their loved ones lost to the regime of martial law. They should never be forgotten,” Aquino’s spokesperson, Abigail Valte, said in a statement.
Ferdinand Marcos and his wife, Imelda, were widely believed to have masterminded the assassination of Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino, Jr. His death led to public discontent that culminated in a “people power” revolution that ousted Marcos in 1986 and sent him into exile in Hawaii, where he died subsequently.
The Marcos family were accused of plundering the country’s coffers, while thousands went missing or were tortured during the brutal two-decade regime.
Imelda, his son, Ferdinand Jr. and daughters Imee and Irene were later allowed to return home, where they have since regained political clout. Marcos Jr. became a senator but lost the vice presidential race in May, while Imee is the governor of the family’s stronghold of Ilocos Norte.
Opposition lawmaker Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, whose brother Hermon was among the thousands who went missing, said that he was “contemplating” filing a motion to order the exhumation of Marcos who was “stealthily interred in LNMB.”
The Marcos family “has once again violated the rule of law and disrespected judicial processes,” he said.
“The clandestine burial of Marcos is in the malevolent mold of the Marcoses’ propensity for abuse, deception, deviousness and underhandedness,” Lagman said.
Human rights lawyer, Manuel Jose “Chel” Diokno branded the burial as a “tragedy.”
“It appears that they went ahead with the burial because the SQA (status quo ante) order has not been reinstated. But our presumption was they (Marcoses) will not move the body because we can still file a motion for reconsideration,” said Diokno.
His father, the late opposition leader Sen. Jose “Ka Pepe” Diokno, was detained during martial law.
Lagman was initially unconvinced that Marcos was to be buried yesterday, telling the Inquirer by phone that it was not possible since the petitioners could still file their motion for reconsideration until Nov. 28.
But less than an hour after the phone conversation, police officials confirmed that a burial for Marcos was taking place.
Lagman added the petitioners would also ask the Supreme Court to declare in contempt all those involved in the premature burial of Marcos without the Supreme Court decision having become final and executory.
On Nov. 10, Lagman, on behalf of the petitioners, filed a manifestation with the High Court that pending receipt of the Supreme Court decision, “they will definitely file motions for reconsideration which should not rendered moot by a precipitate Marcos burial.”
Singer Leah Navarro of the Black and White Movement said the burial proved that “the Marcoses are unapologetic and extremely arrogant.”
“They struck a knife into our hearts and they are so proud of it,” Navarro said.
“Marcos was buried as he lived: holding nothing sacred. Neither tradition nor decency, neither the law nor the institutions meant to uphold them mattered to Marcos, whether in life or in death,” the movement said.
“Today, the Supreme Court Justices who collaborated in this disgrace see the naked contempt in which the Marcoses hold the institution in which they serve,” the group said.
“In life and in death, Marcos is forever a thief,” it said.
Sen. Franklin Drilon branded the “stealthy” manner by which the burial unfolded as reminiscent of martial law.
“Marcos betrayed the country for decades; we should not allow him to continue to do so up to this day,” he said. “Like what Marcos did for 21 years, he caught us off-guard like a thief in the night.”
Sen. Francis Pangilinan for his part noted that the Liberal Party would support steps to remove the body from the site, including involvement in protest actions.
Congressmen also lambasted the burial, and expressed doubt on the Palace’s statements that it was caught unaware by the move. Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Jr., one of the Supreme Court petitioners, said there was little relief now for Marcos victims, but expressed hope that the youth would pick up the fight.
Baguilat said the burial was “evidently planned in dark secrecy, and such plans can only hide sinister motives.”
Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, meanwhile, described the “blitzkrieg” move as a “dastardly act characteristic of the Marcoses.”