10 reasons why the SC voted to bury | as easy as ABC

We are still dazed in disbelief, despite warning signs. When it came, it was a letdown that feels like the interment of the struggles of one generation.

Call it the Philippine contribution to the global shock from New World Order on the heels of the likes of Brexit and Trump. The country that gave the world the precedent called People Power Revolution, that had its first woman president who then received standing ovations from a grand auditorium of US senators and congressmen – is now burying the dictator it ignominiously booted out as a hero.

We all err, according to the Supreme Court (SC). So can a president who favors the ardent wishes of a family over the fervent sentiment of a nation. My legal training though prevails on me to give the SC decision and the justices a fair shake and allow the readers to see it from the eyes of the nine. These are their reasons:

  1. President Duterte’s decision to have the remains of Marcos buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) is a political question. This means that the question is not whether it is legal to do so but whether it is the wise thing to do. So if President Duterte thinks it will promote national healing and forgiveness, even if the SC disagrees with that, it cannot stop him unless he is doing an illegal act.

  2. There is no factual evidence that in the guise of exercising a presidential prerogative, Duterte was only motivated by utang na loob (debt of gratitude) and bayad-utang (payback) to the Marcoses.

  3. Military memorials are under the administration of the Department of National Defense (DND), and the president has control and supervision of the DND. Since what is at issue is the directive of the Secretary of DND, the “petition” should have been filed first before the Secretary to allow him to correct himself, and if necessary, appeal the Secretary’s position to the Office of the President. This is what is required of “exhaustion of administrative remedies” before going to court.

  4. Taxpayers also have no legal standing to complain because they can only do so if public funds are illegally disbursed or misused. Taxpayers, however, have not been able to show that there is a law that expressly or impliedly disqualifies Marcos to be interred at LNMB. The SC said he was a former president and commander-in-chief, legislator, defense secretary, and an awarded military veteran.

  5. Concerned citizens cannot stop the burial unless they show that the issues they raise are of “transcendental importance, overreaching significance to society, or of paramount public interest”. At this point, the burial of Marcos at the LNMB will have no profound effect on our lives.

  6. Human rights violations victims who decry the “retraumatization” will not be deprived of their rights under the Republic Act 10368, which is the law that requires the recognition of violations committed against Martial Law victims. Legislators could have easily stated that Marcos’ interment at the LNMB shall not be allowed as part of the reparation for human rights victims, but they did not.

  7. There are “national historical shrines” across the country created by law that are sites of birth, exile, detention or death of eminent leaders of the nation. It is the government’s obligation to keep these places “sacred and hallowed”. The LNMB is not such a shrine as it is originally intended for the war dead and to symbolize “the cause for which our soldiers have died”. Like the US Army military cemeteries, such as the Arlington, the LNMB is a “national shrine for military memorials”.

  8. If the standard is that the LNMB is reserved only for the decent and the brave, or “hero”, then that will put into question the validity of the burial of every mortal buried there.

  9. “Sacred and hallowed” refers to the place. Marcos’ remains being buried there does not diminish the nation’s reverence for the others, such as the war dead, whose remains are buried there as well.

  10. Marcos should be judged in his totality as a person. “While he was not all good, he was not pure evil either. Certainly, just a human, he erred like us”.

The unemphasized fact is that Marcos is not only a previous soldier. He was the dictator who was the most divisive figure in the country for two decades. Stolen wealth of P170 billion has been recovered but the rest of the lot, the family continues to hold on to. Even laws passed to officialize and memorialize the atrocities during Martial Law were simply not enough proof.

Certainly, justices are just humans who can err just like us. And if we judge that this is “another gloomy day” for the judiciary, we apologize if we err as well. Even in death, and now, after burial, Marcos will divide the nation. And all the undertakers will define their place in history.

Alexander B. Cabrera is the chairman and senior partner of Isla Lipana & Co./PwC Philippines. He also chairs the Educated Marginalized Entrepreneurs Resource Generation (EMERGE) program of the Management Association of the Philippines (MAP). Email your comments and questions to aseasyasABC@ph.pwc.com. This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.

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Alexander B. Cabrera

Alexander B. Cabrera

Chairman Emeritus, PwC Philippines

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