By Elizabeth Marcelo
Source: GMA News

Solicitor General Jose Calida on Wednesday said the government’s plan to bury the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) in Taguig will not have a negative effect on the government’s existing commitment to give reparation to the victims of human rights violation during Martial Law.

At the resumption of the oral arguments on the consolidated petitions against the government’s plan for a hero’s burial on Marcos, Supreme Court Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa asked Calida:  “Will the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani have a negative effect on the human rights obligations and reparations of the victims?”

“Definitely not, your honor,” Calida replied.

Calida pointed out that Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) chairperson Lina Sarmiento had already admitted during the first day of the oral arguments that the awarding of compensation to the human rights violation victims is ongoing and that the planned burial of Marcos in LNMB will not affect the compensation procedure.

Further, Calida said that even Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales during the previous hearing, likewise admitted that Marcos’ burial at LNMB will also have no legal bearing on the pending civil and criminal cases before the Sandiganbayan against the late president’s family and alleged cronies.

Caguioa, however, pointed out that also during the previous hearing, Commission of Human Rights chairman Jose Luis Martin Gascon stressed that the reparation of victims during martial law does not only involves monetary compensation but also the state’s recognition that the abuses transpired and that it will not happen again.

“The CHR chairman also said reparation also means ensuring that the victims will not be re-traumatized,” Caguioa said.

Calida, however, fired back that what was traumatizing was having the victims recount over and over the tortures they endured during martial law.

“The word re-traumatization will not apply here (Marcos’ burial). I was surprised that during the last hearing, the victims were made to recall the horrors they experienced. That was in fact re-traumatization,” Calida said.

“They should not be allowed to relieve the horrors of their past. There is a place for that but not here in the Supreme Court… I am human your honor, I can feel their pain. But making them recount their horrible experiences is a form of re-traumatizing them,” he added.

Caguiao then asked Calida on what is the “urgency” of burying Marcos at the LNMB.

“President [Rodrigo] Duterte has already stated that among his national policies are policy of reconciliation and national healing,” Calida said.