No to a Hero's Burial, No to a Revision of History

Manila Bulletin, April 24, 2011 | Go to article overview

No to a Hero's Burial, No to a Revision of History


MANILA, Philippines -- Unfazed by criticisms for its stand against interring former President Ferdinand E. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) stands by its position and reiterates calls for lawmakers to withdraw their support to House Resolution 1135.

Sorsogon Rep. Salvador Escudero, proponent of the resolution urging President Benigno S. Aquino III to allow the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, said in a radio interview that "he was saddened by CEAP's opposition to his resolution" and urged them to "be open-minded and heed the Lord's Prayer about forgiveness.''

But CEAP president Fr. Gregorio Banaga, in an interview with the Students and Campuses Bulletin, says true reconciliation should be based on justice.

"Who doesn't want to be reconciled? We want unity and reconciliation, we want to move on, but let it be true reconciliation based on justice. We cannot reconcile and at your back, I stab you. Nelson Mandela formed a truth commission in South Africa to review the crimes and violations against human rights and their laws. They (violators) were not jailed but they had to confess, accept their mistake and repent. And then they moved on. Is there ever a statement by the Marcoses admitting that they indeed repressed human rights? Are they repentant? That is why in our statement, we quoted St. Augustine, 'charity cannot substitute for justice denied'," explains Fr. Banaga.

Preventing a revision of history

Fr. Banaga stresses that CEAP came up with a statement because they want to prevent a revision of our history.

"Falsehood might be peddled. What was the reason why the first EDSA Revolution happened? Do you mean to say that the Filipino people at that time made a mistake in throwing away the dictatorship. Filipinos easily forget the past. And because we easily forget, we never learn," laments Fr. Banaga, stressing that the decision to bury the late president at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, will "even exacerbate and show the separation and the division of the people.''

As it is, the resolution is already dividing the nation, even as more congressmen are starting to show support for the resolution. As of presstime, there are 219 solons who have signed the resolution. Furthermore, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey conducted from March 4 to 7, revealed that 50 percent of Filipinos were in favor of the burial of Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani while 49 percent were not.

The former President is currently buried in a refrigerated crypt in his hometown in Batac, Ilocos Norte.

Fake war hero?

In the resolution initiated by Escudero, an agriculture minister during the Marcos administration, Marcos is described as "a well-decorated soldier, a veteran of World War II, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, and the longest serving president of the Republic who built the modern foundations of the Philippines."

Therefore, according to the resolution, a burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani "will not only be an acknowledgement of the way Marcos led a life as a Filipino patriot, but will also be a magnanimous act of reconciliation which will strengthen the bonds of solidarity among the Filipino people."

CEAP in its statement, said "that these exaggerated claims about Marcos cannot be farther from the truth, and do not at all justify a hero's burial for him."

Fr. Banaga says American historian Alfred McCoy has long debunked the tale of Marcos as a well-decorated soldier. "Mccoy said 25 years ago that the Maharlika guerrilla unit which Marcos supposedly organized and led did not exist. Marcos was in the war, perhaps as an ordinary soldier. But to say that he was a hero is something else. And history does not seem to prove that," he points out.

Marcos' rise and fall

The CEAP statement underscores that Marcos became "the longest serving Philippine President because he declared martial law, used military repression to silence opponents, destroyed what was then an imperfect but working democratic system, and perpetuated himself in power through an authoritarian Constitution which was never legitimately ratified.

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