Let me express my deepest disappointment with the decision of the Supreme Court to allow the burial of the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. at the Libingan ng mga Bayani. While I will not cast doubt on the legal wisdom the high court has used in coming up with this decision (after all, the legal argument for and against Marcos’ burial have been thoroughly deliberated), this is, in essence, a huge loss for the thousands of Filipino lives ruined by his dictatorship and the millions of succeeding generations that will continue to suffer the many legacies of his regime.
It strikes me as ironic that a man whose corrupt and murderous rule that was propped up by the wholesale violation of our constitutional rights and legal processes will now be given a hero’s burial, and with a veneer of legality no less. I hope that President Rodrigo Duterte listens to the survivors of Martial Law many of whom are now members of his cabinet, are his coalition partners, or have supported his candidacy. He can ensure that this huge irony does not fully become tragedy.
Let me join other Filipinos in raising our opposition to this travesty. I respect the Court’s decision but I have never nor will I ever recognize Marcos as a hero. Based on historical fact and legal precedence, Marcos is a murderer and a plunderer. This cannot be changed.
I urge my fellow Filipinos to remember the thousands who fought his dictatorship – many of them have their names etched in our collective memory while countless others will remain nameless. Many of these heroes are still with us and have continued their lives after the fall of the dictatorship. I, myself, have the honor of being a brother and close friend to one of those heroes who spent their youth, idealism, and energy fighting for a democratic and free Philippines. While it seems that the achievements of their struggle have been reversed, it is up to the younger Filipinos to correct this. To them, we must say: never forget, never again. They must continue to fight historical revisionism and the legacy of Martial Law.
As we move forward from this huge defeat, we must continue to fight the other legacies of the dictatorship. Let us focus our energy on instituting the policies meant to correct the injustices during the Marcos dictatorship such as pushing for the proper redistribution of the Coco Levy Fund to benefit the coconut farmers and their families, fighting the culture of corruption in government that was at its height during the dictatorship by passing the Freedom of Information Law, and finally fulfilling the promise of the People Power Revolution: the restoration of democracy and respect for human life and dignity.