Supreme Court rules Marcos to stay at cemetery for heroes

Font Size

By Kristine Joy V. Patag

THE SUPREME COURT (SC) on Tuesday ruled with finality on the petitions challenging its earlier decision that allowed the burial of late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos Sr. at the country’s cemetery for heroes.

Supreme Court rules Marcos to stay at cemetery for heroes
Anti-Marcos activists shout slogans during a protest at the People Power monument in Quezon City on Nov. 30, 2016 against the burial of the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos at the heroes’ cemetery. Mr. Marcos was buried in a secretive ceremony on November 18, triggering street protests as opponents denounced what they said was the whitewashing of his brutal and corrupt rule. — AFP

Voting 10-5, the SC in full court junked the motions for reconsideration filed by petitioners asking the High Court to reverse its decision that junked filings for a halt order on the government’s planned burial of Mr. Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (LNMB), which was one of the campaign promises of President Rodrigo R. Duterte.

SC Spokesperson Theodore O. Te announced the final decision in a press briefing late afternoon yesterday, but gave no reason why the Court dismissed the motions for reconsideration.

In a controversial decision issued in November last year, the SC, voting 9-5, held: “…(there is) no clear constitutional or legal basis to hold that there was grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction which would justify the Court to interpose its authority to check and override an act entrusted to the judgment of another branch.”

Mr. Duterte, who has openly expressed admiration for the late strongman, said during this campaign that the burial of Mr. Marcos will bring “national healing.” The promise was later formalized in a memorandum dated Aug. 7 by Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana.

Seven petitions coming from various groups of human rights advocates and martial law victims were filed to stop the order.

The SC’s final decision was penned by Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta. Three new justices appointed by Mr. Duterte — Associate Justices Samuel R. Martires, Noel G. Tijam and Andres B. Reyes Jr. — all voted to dismiss the motions.

Maintaining their dissent, as with the original decision, are Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio, Marvic M.V.F. Leonen, Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa, and Francis H. Jardeleza

Ten days after the SC released the voting results in November last year, a “private ceremony” was held by the family of Mr. Marcos with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The remains of the late strongman were flown from Ilocos province, bailiwick of the family, to Taguig, Metro Manila. This, even before the decision was made final and was still subjected to the 15-day period given for petitioners to file their motion for reconsideration.

The burial, which came as a surprise to the public, was met by strong criticism from various sectors, including international group, and sparked protests across the capital.

Mr. Marcos, after ruling the country under martial law for 14 years, was ousted in 1986 through a peaceful revolution that has come to be known as the EDSA People Power Revolution. Left in the wake of his presidency were about 70,000 people detained, about 34,000 tortured, some 3,240 killed, and 398 enforced disappearances, according to an infographic released by the government’s Official Gazette.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella, in a statement issued yesterday, said, “We acknowledge the decision of the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of all legal questions. We hope the matter… 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.” — with a report from Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral