On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, the Supreme Court (SC) decreed that the late president and dictator Ferdinand Marcos can finally be buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).
The issue on whether the highly-polarized former Head of State deserves to be buried on such sanctified ground has divided the country for decades, not least of which because tens of thousands of Filipinos were subjected to rape, torture, and murder under the Marcos regime.
While the Marcos family promised the then-President Fidel V. Ramos that they would bury their patriarch in Ilocos as part of the conditions for their return to the Philippines, some supporters argued that Ferdinand Marcos was entitled to a plot in the Heroes’ Cemetery as a war hero and as an ex-president.
This viewpoint seems to have convinced nine (9) of the fourteen (14) associate judges who chose to reject the petitions against a hero’s burial for the controversial president.
While the verdict has been long-delayed, the plan to entomb the Martial Law architect has been in motion since May 23, when President Rodrigo Duterte called for the late dictator’s burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani in order to fulfill a campaign promise to the Marcos family and to the Ilocano voters they brought in to secure Duterte’s victory.
The defense department was given orders to prepare for a September 18 burial, but their efforts were waylaid by Martial Law victims petitioning the Supreme Court to intervene. A total of six (6) petitions were presented in opposition to Duterte’s orders, and two (2) rounds of oral arguments in support of such were heard out by the magistrates on August 31 and September 8.
Yet despite a massive outpouring of emotional appeals, a prevalent #PrayForEight campaign (eight being the number of associate judges needed to approve the petitions against the Heroes’ Cemetery burial), and plain historical facts arguing to the contrary, it appears that a president’s campaign promise has taken priority over everything else in this issue.
And now, all that’s left to do is hope and pray that this decision does not result in yet more turmoil for our already embattled country.