DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/23 August) – There will be no burial of the late dictator Ferdinand Edralin Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB) in the next 20 days following the issuance Tuesday of a status quo ante order by the Supreme Court which also re-scheduled from August 24 to August 31 the oral arguments on the six consolidated cases opposing his burial at the Heroes’ Cemetery.
Theodore Te, spokesperson and head of the Public Information Office of the Supreme Court told a press briefing there Tuesday afternoon that the six cases have been consolidated into one and that the status quo ante order is for 20 days, or until September 12.
The High Court also granted the request of the PIO to allow for the livestreaming of the oral arguments on August 31 starting at 10 a.m.
Te said the status quo ante order “brings us back to the prevailing situation before a certain event” or in this case, before the issuance of the August 7 memorandum of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the Marcos burial at the LNMB .
In his memorandum, Lorenzana directed General Ricardo Visaya, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to “undertake the necessary planning and preparations to facilitate the coordination of all agencies concerned specially the provisions for ceremonial and security arrangements” for the burial of the remains of the former President at the LNMB in compliance to the verbal order of President Rodrigo Duterte on July 11 “to implement his election campaign promise.”
The Philippine Veterans Affairs Office, which has supervision and administration over the LNMB, was tasked by Lorenzana to designate a person who shall oversee the preparations for the Marcos burial at a date chosen by the Marcos family.
Lorenzana directed Visaya to coordinate with the Marcos family on the date of interment and the transport of the remains from Ilocos Norte to the LNMB, and to submit to his office the Implementing Plan “as soon as possible.”
The memorandum was issued on the same day Duterte told a past midnight press conference in Davao City that the Marcos family can bury the remains of the former President at the LNMB on September 11, his 99th birth anniversary, if they so wish.
The late President Marcos was a lawyer who was elected Congressman and later Senator. He was Senate President before he was elected to a four-year term in 1965, was reelected in 1969 for a term that was set to end in 1973 but declared martial law on September 21, 1972 and ruled as a dictator until he was ousted by People Power on February 25, 1986.
Marcos Sr., who was born in Sarrat, Ilocos Norte on September 11, 1917, died in exile in Hawaii on September 28, 1989.
It took four years before his body could be flown back to the Philippines – on September 7, 1993, under the administration of President Fidel Ramos, Marcos’ cousin.
Marcos’ remains are still encased in a glass for public viewing at the Marcos Museum and Mausoleum in Batac, Ilocos Norte.
In a six-paragraph statement issued on Tuesday, the Davao City-based Konsyensya Dabaw welcomed the Supreme Court order as “an opportunity to fully articulate opposition to the plan before the highest judicial body and seek appropriate action, and is in keeping with the democratic traditions of the country.”
Composed of a mixed group of Dabawenyos opposed to the Marcos burial at the LNMB, including Duterte supporters who do not agree with him on this issue, Konsyensya Dabaw reiterated its appeal to the President who served as Davao City mayor for 22 years, “to consult with the Martial Law victims-survivors and their families” as he promised during the campaign.
It noted that while Duterte has recently said that conducting a plebiscite on the issue is ruled out because it will entail a huge expense, “at the very least he should fulfill the intention to consult with the victims-survivors, a key aspect of the aforesaid campaign commitment.”
“Such a move would further demonstrate the claim that the Duterte administration is one that listens and has tunay na malasakit,” it said.
It also urged Dabawenyos to use the 20-day window to “discern more about the issue instead of just waiting for the SC decision” and called on schools to conduct fora and discussions “to broaden the discourse beyond the soldier and former president status of Marcos, Sr., and to also connect it to the history of the Davao region.”
Human rights violations were rampant in the region during the Marcos dictatorship. It was also in the region, particularly in Davao City where most of the protest actions were held and where the series of Mindanao-wide Welgang Bayan ( strikes) paralyzed the island’s economy in the dying days of the Marcos dictatorship.
Duterte’s mother, Soledad, was among the key leaders in the anti-Marcos movement then, while the son was a government prosecutor.
Konsyensya Dabaw has staged two protest actions in the city – on August 14 at the Centennial Park in front of the San Pedro cathedral and on August 21 at the Ateneo de Davao University’s steps along Roxas Avenue, on the sidelines of the the 31st Kadayawan Festival, urging Duterte to reconsider his decision and to have the Marocs remains buried in Batac, Ilocos Norte instead.
Konsyensya Dabaw “honored the 11 tribes of Davao by dramatizing protest against the burial which would in effect make a hero out of a tyrant who had caused large-scale harm to the Lumad and Moro of Mindanao,” the statement read.
White umbrellas were used to spell out “Ilubong si Marcos sa Batac” (Bury Marcos in Batac) and “Martial Law, Never 4get.”
The group is proposing that the Marcos remains be buried in his hometown in Batac, Ilocos Norte, and not at the LNMB as doing so “would erase the massive human rights violations and the plunder of the national coffers that happened during the time of Marcos, and also abet the full return to power of an unrepentant oligarch family.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)