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Columns - JGL Eye
Thursday, 02 June 2011 20:43

 

 

JGL Eye Column

By JOSEPH G. LARIOSA

(© 2011 Journal Group Link International)

 

‘What is that which has one voice and yet becomes four-footed and two-footed and three- footed?’ It is a man. He crawls on all fours as a small child, he walks on two feet as a young man and then he uses a staff in his old age. – Apollodorus, House of Oedipus III.5.7

 

C HICAGO (jGLi) – The issue whether to bury the remains of former President Marcos inside or outside the Libingan ng mga Bayani (originally Republic Memorial Cemetery now National Heroes Cemetery) had stumped four Philippine Presidents and has polarized a whole new Filipino generation more than ever before. Make it five Presidents.

 

Presidents Tita Cory, Fidel Ramos, Joseph “Erap” Estrada and Gloria Macapagal Arroyo procrastinated in coming up with a politically correct solution but they all failed to bury Marcos.


Now, President Noynoy Aquino is trying to muddle his hand into the issue that has morphed into a riddle like the
Phoenix.

 

And like a Hydra, the issue has become more complicated while someone was trying to unravel it. It has put the solver into a quicksand without a rope to hang on.

 

It is like coming up with the right answer to a timeless question: which came first, the egg or the chicken?

 

President Estrada, a former pro-Marcos town mayor, had a chance to bury Marcos at the LNMB in 1998. But before doing so, Erap made a mistake of hurling a challenge to anyone, who can come up with a law that defines who can be buried at the LNMB.

 

It did not take long before a former student council president of San Beda College of Law Ben Maynigo, now a Fil Am lawyer, came forward to accept Mr. Estrada’s challenge. Mr. Maynigo pulled out a 1948 law, Republic Act No. 289, providing for the construction of a national pantheon for presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots of the country.


This post-war law was refined by President Magsaysay in 1954, renaming the
Republic Memorial Cemetery at Fort McKinley (now Fort Bonifacio) as Libingan Ng Mga Bayani (LNMB).

 

In 1967, President Marcos issued Proclamation No. 208, reserving 142 hectares from the Bonifacio Military Reservation as a National Shrine under the administration of the Military Shrines Services, Philippine Veterans Affairs, Department of National Defense.

 

MARCOS WILLED OWN BURIAL AT LNMB BUT

 

U nknown to many, among the implementing rules of this law enumerate those who can and cannot be buried in the LNMB. The same rules also provide a burial place for Marcos, making Marcos the third Philippine President to be buried there. Carlos Garcia and Diosdado Macapagal are the only two other Presidents now buried in those hallowed grounds.

 

Under the same implementing rules, among those who are prohibited to be buried are remains of “military personnel dishonorably separated, reverted, or discharged from the service” and those “who were convicted for an offense involving moral turpitude.”

 

Because nobody paid attention to these implementing rules, and much more, nobody objected to them, such provisions had now become undoubtedly part of the law of the land and, therefore, should be respected.

 

Maynigo argues that because Marcos as “Commander-in-Chief” was overthrown by the Filipino people during EDSA I, it had the effect of the Filipino people dishonorably “discharging Marcos from performing further public service” that prohibits him from being buried in the LNMB.

 

If Vice President Jojo Binay were to invoke these “implementing rules” as one of the guidelines for rejecting the entombment of Marcos in the LNMB, this should settle the issue. But Mr. Binay, an anti-Marcos human-rights lawyer, would certainly run into an opposition from his pro-Marcos friend and former running mate, President Estrada.

 

LNMB LAW OPENS CAN OF WORMS

 

W hy? By implication, if Mr. Binay would reject the burial of Marcos in the LNMB because Marcos was overthrown by the Filipino people, then, Mr. Binay or his successor will have no reason not to use this same reason to reject the burial of President Estrada in the LNMB. Why? Not only was Estrada “overthrown” or “dishonorably discharged as Commander-in-Chief” by the Filipino people during EDSA II, like Marcos, Mr. Estrada was also “convicted (of plunder) for an offense involving moral turpitude” although Mr. Estrada was later pardoned.

 

So, if it is true that President Noynoy had taken the decision to bury Marcos at the LNMB out of Mr. Binay’s hands, in one hand, this should give Mr. Binay a break from the firestorm that he will create should he come to a decision to reject Marcos burial at the LNMB.

 

On the other hand, if Mr. Binay would allow Marcos’ burial in the LNMB, he will be viewed by human rights advocates as an opportunist, who changed his stand for human rights advocacy after he came into power. So, on this score, Binay is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

 

And here are my solutions:

1.    President Noynoy Aquino should certify a priority bill in Congress, calling for special referendums; or enclose in the 2013 senatorial elections referendums, resolving two issues:

     a. “Should Marcos remains and those of future Presidents, who were overthrown from power, be buried at the LNMB?” And
     b. “Should future Presidents, who were convicted of crimes involving moral turpitude and were later pardoned of their crimes, be buried at the LNMB?”
         

But if this will not work, see below:

 

2.    President Noynoy Aquino certify a law amending post-war RA 289 and Marcos Proclamation 208, creating presidential libraries and museums, like they have it in the United States. Except for a handful of past U.S. Presidents, like Kennedy, who was buried at Arlington National Cemetery, most modern Presidents and even Lincoln, believed to be the greatest President ever, were buried in their own hometowns beside their own presidential libraries and museums.

 

OPEN DISPLAY FOREVER?

 

W hy doesn’t the Marcos Estate think outside the box?  Why doesn’t it put up its own presidential library and museum at the place where Marcos remains is now being entombed?

 

The Marcos Estate can even keep the Marcos’ remains “on display” forever, like North Korea’s Kim II-Sung’s mausoleum in Pyongyang (they may inquire about this from former Sen. Nene Pimentel who was able to view this); Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Vietnam or Mausoleums to Chairman Mao, Lenin and Stalin?

Or his remains buried and out of public view, like Presidents Nixon, Reagan, Lincoln, etc.

 

I’m sure expenses for building the Marcos Presidential Mausoleum and Library in Marcos’ birthplace of Sarrat, Ilocos Norte, will be self-subsidizing as it should be a big draw to pay up its “maintenance” services. # # #

 

Editor’s Note: To contact the author, please e-mail him at: (lariosa_jos@sbcglobal.net)

 


 

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