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Should the remains of former President Ferdinand E. Marcos be finally interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani? This is an issue has divided Filipinos then. This issue is still dividing the Filipinos now.
The decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to allow the Libingan ng mga Bayani burial of the remains of former President Marcos drew strong opposition particularly from the group of human rights violation victims during the Martial Law years of the Philippines.
The opposition is mainly centered on the believed unworthiness of the former president to the honor of being buried at national “heroes cemetery”—a privilege accorded to Philippine presidents. The alleged human rights violations and plunder of the public coffers during his more than 20-year term as president make him unworthy of the honor, according to those who oppose the heroes burial. The position of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) that the claimed war records and medals of former President Marcos are fake and full of inconsistencies is taken as basis for opposing the heroes burial, which is also allowed by law for soldiers.
There are also individuals and groups that support the burial of the former president at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
Many of President Duterte’s political allies agree with his decision, particularly the intent to finally end this divisive issue and thereafter unite the Filipinos once more.
How should this issue be addressed? Those who favor President Duterte’s decision assert that the voice of those who still support the Marcoses up to this time should count. They contend that the voice of close to 14 million Filipinos who voted for Senator Bongbong Marcos in the last vice presidential elections should be heard as support for the heroes burial for former President Marcos.
Those who are opposed to the decision assert that the number of human rights victims and violations of the former president and the amount of public funds allegedly stolen by the Marcoses should be loud enough to stop the planned burial.
Should we settle the issue by pursuing the legal route and throwing the question on the legality of the burial to the Supreme Court for it to decide?
This issue can be seen in different perspectives and we will always have opposing views on the matter. At the end of the day, the questions that we should answer as a people are—should we allow ourselves to remain divided by this issue? Are our arguments for or against the issue more important than our unity?
(Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate)