TURNING POINT: A Villain in Hallowed Grounds

NAAWAN, Misamis Oriental (MindaNews/18 November) — Why should the interest of the nation be compromised to fulfill a political promise intended to lure votes from a jaded political dynasty and local interest groups?

President Duterte may be stretching his luck to the breaking point on the issue of burying whatever is left of the remains of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. Contrary to his claim, the burial will not heal and unite the nation; it instead cuts and reopens old healing wounds and thus painfully bleeds the nation all over again.

Only the Marcoses will benefit from this monumental insensitiveness of the mayor president. This may yet buoy up their sinking political fortune, what with the politically disastrous defeat of the Marcos golden boy Bongbong in the vice presidential contest versus the virtually unknown Leni Robredo. For the Marcos clan, the unforgivable lackluster performance of Bongbong in the last elections badly needs some glorious covering up event. What is more fitting for the situation than to finally execute the hero’s burial for the late dictator. Hence the thieving dynasty that bankrolled Duterte’s run to the presidency is now collecting the campaign promise of the Davao mayor to bury the strongman at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. It’s payback time.

And it’s show time again. The strongman Marcos lived a ferocious lion but died a scampering rat. Duterte decided to give a favorable concluding twist to “Iginuhit ng Tadhana.” The rat Marcos will finally be buried a lion king.

Anyway, does the strongman qualify burial at LNMB?

Republic Act 289 as amended, provided for the Construction of a National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes, and Patriots of the Country (now known as Libingan ng mga Bayani) the purpose of which is

“To perpetuate the memory of all the Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn…”

The law and subsequent legal issuances enumerate those who may be interred in the heroes’ cemetery to include among others awardees of medal of valor, former presidents and their wives, national heroes, national artists and scientists and others that may be authorized by the President or Congress. There is, however, a bar that deceased personalities should hurdle to be finally interred at the libingan: that they were not dishonorably separated/ reverted/ discharged and convicted by final judgment of an offense involving moral turpitude,

And what is this felony called moral turpitude?

Our courts, as well as numerous US courts, in ascribing moral turpitude to an offense are guided by Bouvier and Black’s Law Dictionaries; in Bovier’s Dictionary, moral turpitude, “includes everything which is done contrary to justice, honesty, modesty, or good morals,” while in Blacks’ Law Dictionary, moral turpitude is defined as an “act of baseness, vileness, or the depravity in private and social duties which man owes to his fellow man, or to society in general, contrary to the accepted and customary rule of right and duty between man and man…. Act or behavior that gravely violates moral sentiment or accepted moral standards of community and is a morally culpable quality held to be present in some criminal offenses as distinguished from others … The quality of a crime involving grave infringement of the moral sentiment of the community as distinguished from statutory mala prohibita.”

Marcos who was a medal of valor awardee and former president of the Republic should have qualified and entitled to a final rest at LNMB but for the issue on moral turpitude offense. While it is true that the strongman was not convicted by a court on his many vile offenses against the Filipino people and humanity in his reign of terror as dictator during the martial law regime, the sovereign people of the republic convicted and removed him irrevocably as president of the land via the EDSA revolution. Be it known that the right to revolt against tyranny or oppressive criminal regime is inherent in a democracy.

Obviously Marcos in whatever role or capacity does not serve as an inspiration and a good model to be emulated by the youth and future generations of the land. His burial at LNMB defeats the purpose of RA 289, desecrates the heroes ground and gives a wrong signal to the young that crime does pay.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. William R. Adan is a retired professor and former chancellor of the Mindanao State University Naawan campus in Misamis Oriental).