Friday, August 12, 2016

Marcos burial is not about a debate on heroes--it is about rights

What law gives the right for former president Ferdinand Marcos to get a burial spot at the Libingan ng mga Bayani? This is Republic Act 289, an old law approved in June 1948. The law mandates the establishment of a "national pantheon" for "presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots of the country."

So, in its face, the law says it is " An Act providing for the construction of a national pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes and Patriots of the country." That pantheon is now called "Libingan ng mga Bayani." Okey, clear.

Section 1 of the said law establishes the rationale behind the law and it 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, there shall be constructed a National Patheon which shall be the burial place of their mortal remains"

Based on this section, it is clear that the purpose for the construction of the Libingan ng mga Bayani is "perpetuate the memory of ALL presidents, national heroes and patriots" just so to provide "inspiration and emulation" for the present and future generations of Filipinos. Clear.

Notice that there are three groups of people contemplated under this law: first, ALL presidents, second, national heroes and third, patriots.

The law is clear---this site belongs to ALL presidents to perpetuate their memories. It does not say or qualify that a president who robbed this country of billions of pesos, who ordered the summarily killing and incarceration of thousands and who led to the near destruction of the economy, is not fit to be buried there. If we are a law-abiding society, we would allow the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos senior to be buried in a place which he deserves for just being a former elected president.

That's why the discussion about whether or not to bury Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani is faulty at the very beginning because it is irrelevant if Marcos was a hero or a patriot. He deserves to be buried at the Libingan as a matter of right, being a former president of this Republic.

Now, some would say " well, Mr. Rivera, you failed to consider why this Libingan exists in the first place--it is to provide "inspiration and emulation" of this generation and "of generations still unborn". Meaning, Mr. Marcos does not deserve to be there because his life was neither an inspiration nor it was an emulating one.

Well, that argument is again, irrelevant. If we are to follow this logic, then, there is simply no president who deserves to be buried in that burial site.

What's the difference of a Manuel Roxas with that of Marcos? Or an Elpidio Quirino of the Golden arinola fame with those billions reportedly stolen by Marcos, his cronies and family members? Or let's just state those presidents still alive? What's the difference between Marcos and Arroyo? How about Erap and FVR? Nothing, because they all allowed corruption during their administrations.

Fidel Valdez Ramos had his centennial scandal and numerous other corruption scams. Erap had his BW and others which led to his incarceration. Arroyo reportedly dipped her fingers into the PCSO coffers and allowed her cronies to steal and rob public coffers for years, while on the part of Noynoy Aquino and even his deceased mother, Cory, they allowed graft and corruption to rise in their respective administrations.

Admit it--these presidents had their flaws. Don't tell me that the reason why we are opposing the burial of Marcos is because of graft and corruption? As I said, previous presidents had their fair share of stealing from public coffers. Just because Marcos and his family stole billions, we will prevent the rotting and smelly corpse of this man rot in Batac? How about these previous presidents who also stole probably even bigger than Marcos did but are not entirely exposed? Are we telling our kids that hey they are allowed because they were not dictators only big-time thieves during their administrations? What kind of message are we telling our kids? That dictators no, thieves yes?

Someone would definitely argue with me and say, " well, Marcos was both a big-time thief and a dictator, so that's the difference." If that's the argument, then, I'll tell my friend this, " was Arroyo not acting like a dictator when she ruled this country for nine long years? How about Noynoy and FVR? They were dictators acting under a so-called democratic setup, yes?

How about human rights violations, some say--Marcos does not deserve to be buried there because this might erase and even mock the memories of those who died and jailed during his watch.

These people and I myself am included, those who fought this dictatorship deserve nothing more than be declared heroes. They fought for our rights. They fought for freedom and for the restoration of democracy.

Will violating Marcos' rights to be buried in the Libingan mock these heroes? No. The fact is--not allowing Marcos to be buried there will actually lead to a mockery of their memories, because we will just be like Marcos and his family.

If I'm asked---" why do you argue like that when you yourself and your family fought the dictatorship?" My response would be---I fought tyranny and its lackeys and it was nothing personal--just strictly following the dictates of my heart and the call of the times as a citizen.

When these people fought Marcos, they fought not just the person who perpetuated the dictatorship. The fact is--the struggle against Marcos was not about Marcos--but what he represented.

Marcos represented the worse kind of a Filipino. He declared martial rule because he believed then that that was the right thing to do to expose and weaken the aristocracy and the oligarchs of this country. At that moment in our history, that was the right decision.

However, because of his megalomania, Marcos abandoned the revolutionary path and transformed into a hideous monster. He became selfish. He thought of becoming the ultimate oligarch, the supreme Overlord of the big-time thieves and addicts of Power.

For that, Marcos deserves nothing more than our hatred and mockery.

Yet, if we don't recognize his right, we are not better than him. The fact is--we would be like him--a deceiver, a pretender, a plunderer not just of our country's wealth, but of our morals and of our values of being a Filipino.

As I said--when we took to the streets in 1987 and even before it, we were fighting not just a conjugal dictatorship--we were fighting against a concept which we all believed to be contrary to the democracy we so hold dear. And the concept is based on the abolition of collective rights and the perpetuation of strong man rule. We fought Marcos because he abused our human rights.

Now, abusing his right---will that right the wrongs Marcos and his family committed against us?

It would have been different had we changed ourselves right after EDSA uno. Had we launched an authentic revolution back in 1986, my argument would definitely be different. Under a revolutionary government, Marcos would have been declared a counter-revolutionary, the very target of the Revolution; hence, stripping him of this right because, like other laws created before the 1987 Constitution, this law would have been erased, even expunged from our jurisprudence.

The sad fact is--we decided to re-create the very society which we loathe and is the cause of our collective misery. This is what we get when we declared that EDSA Uno was just a "peaceful revolution" when truly, it was nothing more than a transition of power from a dictator to a "liberal democrat."

If we are to stubbornly disallow this Marcos to be buried in a place which he has the right to occupy, then, we are nothing more than those oligarchs, filthy ones, who opposed Marcos just because they want nothing more than perpetuate themselves in power. For change, according to the elites of this country, is always personal.

Burying Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani is not just personal---it is strictly following the law. The fact is---it would actually be better if Marcos is buried there because Filipinos of this generation and of the next, would be reminded of all the nasty, brutal and filthy things he did during his lifetime. He would be forever mocked. Not burying Marcos there would make him a hero and perpetuate a legend because people would still think that Marcos did something right when he was still alive.

Let us expose the Lie by burying Marcos at the Libingan. Actually, let us all allow previous presidents to be buried there to remind us of their failures, their schemes, their thievery, their idiocracy and how they broke their promises to us. Let their burial spots remind us of our stupidity of electing such a person in office. This will surely provide us a valuable lesson on electing buffoons in Malacanan.

Having said this, I will still march this Sunday. I will still go to Luneta. :-)

Section 1. 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, there shall be constructed a National Pantheon which shall be the burial place of their mortal remains.

Sec. 2. There is hereby created a Board on National Pantheon composed of the Secretary of the Interior, the Secretary of Public Works and Communications and the Secretary of Education and two private citizens to be appointed by the President of the Philippines with the consent of the Commission on Appointments which shall have the following duties and functions:

(a) To determine the location of a suitable site for the construction of the said National Pantheon, and to have such site acquired, surveyed and fenced for this purpose and to delimit and set aside a portion thereof wherein shall be interred the remains of all Presidents of the Philippines and another portion wherein the remains of heroes, patriots and other great men of the country shall likewise be interred;

(b) To order and supervise the construction thereon of uniform monuments, mausoleums, or tombs as the Board may deem appropriate;

(c) To cause to be interred therein the mortal remains of all Presidents of the Philippines, the national heroes and patriots;

(d) To order and supervise the construction of a suitable road leading to the said National Pantheon from the nearest national or provincial road; and

(e) To perform such other functions as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act.

Sec. 3. The sum of one million pesos, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is hereby appropriated out of any funds in the National Treasury not otherwise appropriated to meet the initial expenses in carrying out the provisions of this Act.

Sec. 4. The Board is authorized to open a popular subscription during a period of time not beyond December thirty-first, nineteen hundred and fifty, to be determined by the Board, in order to raise such additional funds as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this Act. For the purpose of raising such funds by popular subscription, the Board may appoint such committees as may be necessary.

The Board shall cause all the money thus raised by voluntary contribution to be deposited in one of the government depositories or banks in Manila and shall withdraw therefrom such sums as the need for them shall arise.

Sec. 5. The Board is further authorized to appoint an executive secretary, auditor and such other personnel as it may deem necessary and the compensation of which shall be fixed by said Board.

Sec. 6. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

Approved: June 16, 1948