I was not the least bit surprised by the Supreme Court decision allowing the burial of former president Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. On strictly legal grounds, it does seem that nothing on paper really prevents President Duterte from allowing his burial there.
We had 30 years to prevent a Marcos political revival, but we did nothing to assure that. The family that seemed most aggrieved by the Marcos dictatorship had two chances to make sure Marcos remains politically dead, but they did nothing.
I am not as concerned about this burial issue as I am about what that means as we move forward.
It means we learned nothing from the nation’s dark experience of abuses under the Marcos dictatorship. It means we have condoned all the wrongs, the impunity of the Marcos regime. It means it is just a matter of time before the most despised political family recovers the seat of power within our lifetime.
The next big issue in the Supreme Court is the electoral protest of the dictator’s son in the last vice presidential race. Even if no credible evidence of fraud that could stand up in a trial court was presented to back up the complaint, it is not unreasonable to expect the same Supreme Court to find a way to rule in his favor.
Indeed, President Duterte himself said the Marcos son would be the new vice president in the course of a speech while he was abroad on a state visit. That gives credence to reports the Duterte administration has been lobbying the high court to look favorably on the Marcos petition. If this doesn’t happen now, it could happen later since Duterte is expected to name as many as 10 SC justices during his term.
A post on Facebook outlined why this Marcos revival, marked by this high court decision, was just waiting to happen.
“1. No convictions of the Marcos family for graft. Pero we know that if some people put their minds to it, the way they did during a CJ’s impeachment, this would have established precedent.
“2. No rules in LNMB preventing a Marcos burial. Cory was the first to say no, but no legislation or rules to put that into an enforceable law was ever created or enforced. Nagawan nga na wag pauwiin, di naisip na gawan ng rules na wag ilibing dito?
“3. The lack of history taught and learned. I’m not just talking about this martial law period. We are a people illiterate in our own history. And the passage of time has done little to address it. We have not been taught to love our country because we know so little of it. Some say this makes us easier to govern. Perhaps. And we must now live with the consequences of that.”
In a sense, this is why I feel the decision on the burial issue is a perverted blessing.
Having his corpse or a wax version of it at the LNMB will serve as a reminder of our failure to bury for good the dark Marcos legacy of corruption and violation of human rights. His grave would be a very visible monument to the failure of the post EDSA presidents to make Marcos politically irrelevant forever.
We who were old enough to have been in EDSA and have participated in the events of those glorious days are also to blame. We didn’t have the stamina to see the revolution through.
No one thought it was important to tell our children the right story of why EDSA happened and what EDSA’s mission really was. The administrations of the Aquino mother and son and the EDSA hero Fidel Ramos miserably failed to make sure the educational system placed the martial law years in proper context. Textbooks, as late as during the PNoy watch, were giving Marcos the benefit of the doubt.
A columnist in another paper commented on my Facebook post why we who went to EDSA failed:
“Kasalanan natin, after EDSA, we all retired from the struggle, o ayan, we got him out, we will rest now and get our lives back.
“After EDSA bumitaw na lang tayo, trusting the new government would do the right thing in terms of history-telling man lang… eh wala. Can’t blame the youth for not being able to relate to our generation’s despair over a Marcos burial as hero… ”
So let us not blame the Marcos loyalists. The blame falls on us and all the post EDSA presidents who failed to provide the leadership that would have prevented this Marcos political revival.
Think about it. Cory had revolutionary powers and could have made it legally clear that Marcos cannot return, dead or alive. She could have used the same powers to revoke all claimed rights that include burial at the LNMB.
Then Ramos came and allowed the Marcos family to return with the dictator’s body. So it is now claimed by Ramos’s emissary, then DILG secretary Raffy Alunan that Imelda Marcos agreed to conditions that included no burial at the LNMB.
But it seems that even then, the possibility of a future burial “depending on the socio-political conditions prevailing then” was recognized. That time is apparently now, after we elected a president openly sympathetic to the Marcoses.
History will be harsh on the failure of leadership during the post EDSA years. Some of the post EDSA presidents became as notorious as Marcos in the corruption arena. They also lost so much time in our battle for social equality and national development.
Governance over the last 30 years seemed, to many people, as bad as the Marcos years. Corruption and cronyism didn’t change much. There was this failure to make the Marcoses accountable and force them to bring back all that purloined wealth. Indeed, the PCGG became notorious for having many of its officials partake of the loot, instead.
Cases brought up against the Marcoses were dismissed or lost because they were poorly prepared. The significant legal victories were scored in foreign courts by foreign lawyers. Only one of the PCGG chairs, the late Haydee Yorac, was serious in carrying out the mandate of recovering the Marcos wealth. And she died trying.
While we as a people are to blame, the onus is on the leadership… what we have experienced over the past 30 years was a grand failure of leadership. Mother and son were given the opportunity to ferret out the truth on who killed Ninoy, but neither of them seemed to care.
Or maybe they knew and they preferred to keep the secret within their family. But that is of national interest because Ninoy’s death woke us up and emboldened us to fight the dictatorship. Who killed him is an important part of the story that would help us build a society so different from the one we rejected at EDSA.
Today, no Aquino should even open his mouth on this Marcos political revival because this family played a big role in making it happen. As a friend in Facebook and real life puts it, “let us not forget that P-Noy’s most trusted henchman, former executive secretary Paquito Ochoa, is the law partner of Lisa Araneta Marcos. Could he have done anything more favorable to keep the Marcoses within the loop of power?”
Buti na lang some of our young people got it, despite our generation’s failure to tell them the right story. Many of them protested not so much the high court decision, but the looming revival of the Marcos political genes in our political future.
Let me end this column with this quote from Solzhenitsyn that was posted on a friend’s Facebook wall:
“In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”