The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos was dishonorably discharged from his position as the commander-in-chief through by the people through the EDSA Revolution in 1986, argued Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio on Wednesday, August 31.
“Marcos cannot be buried [at the Libingan ng mga Bayani],” Carpio said while questioning lawyer Neri Colmenares, who was among the petitioners against Marcos’ hero’s burial.
Carpio said that as the president, he was also the highest military official and therefore, forfeited his right to be buried at the Heroes’ Cemetery.
He was referring to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Regulation 161-375, which disqualifies soldiers dishonorably discharged from service or convicted by final judgment of a crime involving moral turpitude.
“President Marcos was dishonorably separated from the people in 1986,” Carpio stated during the first session of the oral arguments.
“When President Marcos was ousted, he was removed as a president and was also removed as commander-in-chief,” he added.
In 1986, Marcos was ousted from Malacañang by People Power, which can be considered as a “sovereign act of the people.” Carpio added that this is higher than the “act of a military tribunal or civilian administrative tribunal.”
The associate justice said that burying ‘dishonorably charged’ Marcos at the Libingan would mean using public funds and public property, but for a private purpose, which is against the Constitution.
Associate Justice Teresita de Castro asked that these arguments as to Marcos’ burial all boils down to the cemetery’s name, Libingan ng mga Bayani, when “not all buried there [are] heroes.”
“Who decides who is bayani?” she asked.
She emphasized that there are no set rules in distinguishes heroes from non-heroes, so she asked petitioners to convince her and the other justices that only heroes deserved to be buried at the cemetery. She added that the Libingan was basically developed to honor “those who served [the country] in war and in peace time.”
De Castro wanted to look at laws, statutes and regulations that would support why Marcos should not be buried at the Libingan.
Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa asked why the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) did not include whether Marcos’ Medal of Valor from the AFP was also fraudulent, like his other military records. He added that the said medal was specified by the AFP as one of the requirements for those who seek military interment at the Heroes’ Cemetery.
Lawyer and former Akbayan Rep. Barry Gutierrez, the legal counsel of former Human Rights Chair Etta Rosales and other Martial Law victims, argued that while the NHCP did not mention Medal of Valor, the NHCP still serves as the final arbiter in settling historical controversies.
Gutierrez, answering Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe’s question, said that the opportunity to make Marcos answer for his crimes was slim because of his 20-year presidency that gave him immunity and his exile to Hawaii, where he died.
“But the Supreme Court had said in several occasions that Marcos is guilty of plunder and human rights violations,” he added.
Associate Justice Jose Perez reiterated Solicitor General Jose Calida’s statement that the public who voted for Duterte and won him the election could have wanted him to fulfill his election promise of giving Marcos a hero’s burial.
“Can you not say that the electorate allow [Marcos’ honorary] burial?” Perez asked
Colmenares argued that the people voted for Duterte for his anti-drug and anti-criminality promises. He also emphasized that the High Court’s rulings must only be based on the Constitution, not the election results.
“He did not even get the majority of the votes. Even if he did, I would not like to think this Court can be bound by the promises of an elected official,” he said.
Sources: (gmanetwork.com, rappler.com, sunstar.com.ph)