One of President Rodrigo Duterte’s staunch allies opposed the President’s plan to allow the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.
PDP-Laban founder and former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. repeated his previous proposal on Wednesday, August 10, to have the hero’s cemetery renamed into “Libingan ng mga Bayani at iba pa.” He added that the phrase “iba pa” solely refers to Marcos, who does not qualify under the cemetery’s other name because of the “cruelty of his martial law government.”
Pimentel, in a phone interview, said that Marcos should be buried “where is loved by the people,” probably in Batac, his hometown, or in Paoay, Ilocos Norte.
“As Rizal said, ‘El sitio nada importa.’ It is what one does in life that matters, not where he or she is buried,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted Pimentel.
As a victim of martial law who was incarcerated four times, Pimentel explained why the dictator does not deserve to be laid to rest at the Libingan in Taguig City.
“He is no hero. He has misused his power when he [put the country under] martial rule and has caused the disappearance of so many people, the deaths of so many people opposing the martial law regime and the torture of innumerable detainees,” he said.
Despite being one of the leaders of the political party that pushed for Duterte’s presidency, Pimentel said that he had no plan of talking to the President and convincing him to reconsider his decision on the late strongman’s burial.
“No, I don’t intend to talk [to the President], but I’m opposed to it,” he said.
He noted that unlike what most people think, he had “no access” to the President.
In June this year, Pimentel also made his opposition of Marcos’ burial at the Libingan known.
“Palagay ko lang mas maganda kung saang teritoryo kung saan minamahal siya ng tao, doon sa bandang Ilocos… where he will get all the honors that they want because obviously he was loved there by some people,” GMA News quoted Pimentel.
“They will give the honors to him,” he said.
Pimentel noted how ‘the most respected statesman’ Mahatma Gandhi had a very simple resting place.
“One time nagpunta ako sa India, hinanap ko yung libingan ni Mahatma Gandhi sapagkat palagay ko ay napakalaking tao nito. Dinala nila ako doon sa isang sementeryo at nakita ko ordinary ang libingan ng pinakarespetado na statesman sa buong mundo, kahit na he was not elected as a public official,” Pimentel narrated.
He added that this showed how irrelevant the burial place is for anyone.
“Basta iginagalang ka ng tao OK lang yun,” he said.
Pimentel said that it is up to the Marcos family to withdraw their request to give the dictator a hero’s burial.
“Sana naman ang pamilya ni President Marcos will not insist on giving him a hero’s burial sapagkat ang Martial Law, when his father was the one running the country under authoritarian dictatorship, andami pong napinsalang mga tao, andaming natorture, andaming namatay,” Pimentel said.
“So medyo masalimuot na issue na ilibing sya d’yan sa Libingan ng mga Bayani,” the former Senator added.
Asked about Duterte’s intentions to give Marcos a hero’s burial, Pimentel replied, “Pero kung yun ang desisyon ni President Digong then let it be. But perhaps, probably ulitin ko baguhin ang pangalan sa Libingan ng mga Sundalo na lang para he will qualify as a soldier to be buried there.”
After the May 9 elections, Duterte expressed his intention to keep true to his promise of burying Marcos at the Libingan while campaigning in Ilocos Norte in February. He insisted that he would allow the dictator to be buried at the cemetery “not because he is a hero, kung ayaw ng iba, but because he was a Filipino soldier.”