The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication.
Will it be a test of will between President Rodrigo Duterte and those who protest the burial of the remains of President Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB)?
It will require an irresistible force to make a seemingly immovable object budge. Do the protestors have the dogged determination to become that irresistible force? Duterte has given every indication that he is an immovable object. He says his decision is firm even while he will tolerate demonstrations and protests, and will refrain from using water hoses on the rallyists. Of course, he hasn’t said that the Philippine National Police will not use force, if given an excuse.
Many of the old guards in the anti-Marcos protest movement have passed away. They were the people who braved the fire hoses and who dared to rush the gates of Malacañang headlong. Those who remain are aging and, while they may be active on social media, one wonders if they still have the zeal to bang heads and bodies against the PNP whose members have just begun to taste blood in their hunt for drug lords and pushers.
There are pragmatists who suggest that Duterte should be left to have his way but, after his six-year term, the remains of Marcos can be dug out and moved elsewhere. But they are forgetting that the Marcos family is not exactly powerless. And, who knows, in the next election, Bongbong could win the presidency.
The question, however, is whether Marcos deserves to be or can rightfully be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, according to regulations, the last of which was issued on April 9, 1986 by then Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Fidel V. Ramos and approved by President Corazon Aquino.
That regulation, entitled The Allocation of Cemetery Plots at the LNMB lists the following as being entitled to be interred in the cemetery:
• Medal of Valor Awardees;
• Presidents or Commanders-in-Chief, AFP;
• Secretaries of National Defense;
• AFP Chiefs of Staff, General/Flag Officers, active and retired military personnel, and former AFP members who laterally entered/joined the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG);
• Veterans of the Philippine Revolution of 1896, the First and Second World Wars, as well as recognized guerrillas;
• Government dignitaries, statesmen, national artists and other deceased persons whose interment has been approved by the commander-in-chief, Congress or the Secretary of National Defense, and
• Former Presidents, Secretaries of National Defense, widows of former Presidents, Secretaries of National Defense and Chiefs of Staff.
The regulation does not allow the internment in the LNMB of those “personnel who were dishonorably separated/ reverted/ discharged from the service and personnel who were convicted by final judgment of an offense involving moral turpitude.”
The disqualifying provision apparently applies to everyone listed, including former Presidents and military officers or guerillas, which Marcos was. Marcos was deposed in the People Power Revolution of 1896 and was, in effect, dishonorably discharged. That clearly disqualifies him from admission to the hallowed grounds.
There are no bleeding heart provisions or exemptions allowed due to forgiveness and letting the past bury its past. Surprisingly, even a level headed person like Senator Dick Gordon, has used this rationale.
And then, there are those who either do not understand plain English or are simply bullheaded. Duterte appears to be one of them. Thus, whatever the rules say and whether the protestors scream to high heavens or to hell, Marcos will be buried in the Libingan ng mga Bayani by presidential fiat.
Perhaps Duterte can explain why he insists on honoring Marcos, the way Mark Antony honored the slain Julius Caesar after the Ides of March. I have, thus, taken the liberty of adapting Mark Antony’s eulogy for use by Duterte in a eulogy for Ferdinand Marcos:
Friends, kaigsuon, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Marcos, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones:
So let it be with FM.
The noble Senate President Koko hath told you
Marcos was a dictator and a plunderer:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Marcos answer’d it.
Here, under leave of Senator Cayetano and the rest, --
For Cayetano is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men, --
Come I to speak of Marcos’s burial spot.
A campaign promise did I in Ilocos make
To Bongbong, Imee, Irene and Imeldific.
My word of honor solemnly I gave
A vow to grant the President a hero’s grave.
In truth, what is a grave but mud and soil
Where bones are laid which time and worms despoil?
What honor can a man pretend to claim
When history consigns him to his shame?
You say that Marcos, a dictator was;
Then let his sins be pardoned, let them pass.
Marcos, a soldier and a President,
Deserves to go where men like him are sent.
You can protest and march till shoes should rot;
But my decision stays and yours will not.
The bottom line is that I’ll have my way
Although you may stage rallies night and day
He brought back Yamashita’s treasures from the wars
That made his family the wealthiest by far;
Did that make Ferdinand a plunderer?
You say that Marcos stole the country blind
Yet those who shared the booty did not mind
And tell me why the son did almost win
And could have been next to the president
We must acknowledge our hypocrisy
The plague of freedom and democracy
When Leftists did their dark agenda bare,
Marcos was forced to Martial Law declare.
Yet while he could have been a President-for-Life
Over the vain objections of his kids and wife
A snap election he agreed to call
Which thus began his inadvertent fall;
Did that in Marcos seem ambitious?
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Koko says Marcos was a dictator and a plunderer;
And Koko is an honorable man.
You all did see that when rebels dug in,
Marcos refused to send the tanks and planes,
He could have ordered troops to shoot and kill,
But he refused and thus his troops stood still;
And yet protestors say thousands were slain
During his over two decades of reign
I speak not to disprove what Marcos haters say,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
If Marcos was a killer, so am I;
And if you say Marcos’s dictatorship was dirty
You still don’t know enough about Duterte
O loud protestors, thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And though you may have reasons -- so have I;
But since I am the President and you are not,
Ferdinand Marcos will still have a hero’s plot.
First posted with the title “Duterte’s Eulogy for Marcos” in the author’s column, “Ad Lib” in BusinessWorld August 17, 2016. Posted with the author’s permission.
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