THE Supreme Court has ruled with finality to let the strongman Ferdinand Marcos remain buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
In its en banc session, the Court affirmed its ruling in November sustaining President Rodrigo Duterte’s order to allow Marcos’ interment at the cemetery for former presidents and fallen soldiers in August.
Voting 10-5, the Court dismissed for lack of merit the appeals by the groups of former Bayan Muna Party-List Rep. Satur Ocampo and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, who wanted the late dictator exhumed.
The Court said there was no grave abuse of discretion in President Duterte’s order in August last year allowing Marcos’ interment at the cemetery.
It also noted that the Constitution gave the President the prerogative to issue such an order.
The tribunal also dismissed the plea of Ocampo’s group asking the Court to cite Marcos heirs, the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Department of National Defense for contempt for proceeding with the burial in November even as though the Court ruling was not yet final.
The 10 magistrates who voted to dismiss the motions for reconsideration were Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano Del Castillo, Jose Mendoza, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Samuel Martires, Noel Tijam and Andres Reyes Jr.
Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Marvic Leonen, Francis Jardeleza and Benjamin Caguioa dissented from the majority decision.
The Court ruled that Marcos possessed the qualifications to be interred at the Libingan as a “former president and commander-in-chief, a legislator, a secretary of national defense, a militaryman, a veteran and a Medal of Valor awardee.”
It said the late strongman could not be disqualified from such privilege because of his ouster during the People Power Revolution, explaining that disqualification for dishonorable separation only applies to military personnel prosecuted before a court martial.
The Court rejected the argument of petitioners that Marcos was ineligible for burial at the heroes’ cemetery because when the totality of Marcos as a man is weighed in the balance, whatever achievements he has done for the country are completely nullified by his sins against the nation.
The Court also pointed out that Duterte is not bound by the 1992 agreement between the Marcos family and former President Fidel Ramos, which provides that the Marcos remains will be interred in Batac, Ilocos Norte.
Lastly, the Court pointed out that it is not rewriting the nation’s history in allowing Marcos’ burial as the Office of the Solicitor Ggeneral itself had clarified in the oral arguments that the interment at the cemetery would not make Marcos a hero.
The burial of Marcos on Nov. 18 last year came 23 years after Marcos’ remains returned to the country from Hawaii where he died in exile in 1989 after the historic Edsa People Power revolution in 1986 that toppled him from power.
The Palace welcomed the Court decision.
“We acknowledge the decision of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of all legal questions,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said.
“We hope the matter on [Ferdinand Marcos’ burial at the] Libingan ng Mga Bayani will finally be laid to rest, and that the country will move forward as one united nation working for a comfortable life for all, law and order, and lasting peace,” he added. With John Paolo Bencito