President Rodrigo Duterte may have approved of giving the dictator Ferdinand Marcos a hero’s burial, but a deal between former President Fidel Ramos with the Marcoses may stop the burial.
One of Duterte’s allies, Rafael Alunan III, said on Saturday, August 13, during a press conference, that a deal between the Philippine government under Ramos’ admin and the Marcoses stipulated the following things, as reported by Rappler:
- The government will allow Marcos’ remains to be brought back to the Philippines as long as “it’s flown straight to Paoay” in Ilocos Norte upon its arrival from Hawaii
- Marcos “would be given honors befitting a major of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, because that was his last rank in the Armed Forces”
- The dictator’s remains “will not be allowed to be paraded in Metro Manila” to avoid opening the wounds caused by the dictatorship that “were still fresh in the minds of many people, and we could not afford bloodshed and instability during our watch”
- “Because the burial will have to be done in Ilocos Norte, there will be no burial in Libingan ng mga Bayani”
“So those were the conditions, and we signed an agreement. I think the agreement is still in the archives of Malacañang, so if you wish to get a copy of the agreement that was signed between me and Congressman Ablan, please go ahead and secure a copy from Malacañang,” Alunan said.
He added that despite over two decades since the deal was signed, it is still enforceable.
“I would think that because the agreement is still in force, then both sides should honor it,” he said.
Alunan said the deal was “never abrogated” or ended. However, he noted that it is still up to Duterte.
“If President Duterte thinks otherwise, then that’s his prerogative. The Office of the President is very powerful,” he said.
Would he or Ramos talk to the Marcoses to remind them about the deal?
“We’re civilians [now]. We are [no longer] in government,” he replied.
Alunan posted on his Facebook page on August 13 the provisions of Republic Act No. 289, or An Act Providing for the Construction of a National Pantheon for Presidents of the Philippines, National Heroes and Patriots of the Country that was approved on June 16, 1948.
In the comment section, he noted Section 1 that states, “To perpetuate the memory of all the Presidents of the Philippines, national heroes and patriots for the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn, there shall be constructed a National Pantheon which shall be the burial place for their mortal remains.”
Alunan wrote this, “[NOTE: “… For the inspiration and emulation of this generation and of generations still unborn…”] If we disregard the spirit and letter of the law by using technicalities to get out self-serving ways, then the actions taken won’t be enduring and beneficial to the country’s moral fabric.”
When another Facebook user piped up asking what he would do to the Filipinos who believe that Marcos was worth emulating, noting that she also listened to people who said “positive to neutral” things about the late strongman.
He replied, telling the commenter to do “serious research” and read more books about martial law to learn more about its horrors so she can “get a good grasp of those dark days” so her “opinion will have weight,” which offended the commenter.
Then another commenter replied to the comments, saying that the law was approved in 1948, when the lawmakers “simply did not foresee a Marcos back then,” to which Alunan agreed.
Alunan is one of the signatories to the deal. He was assigned by then President Fidel V. Ramos in 1992 to “represent the government” in coming to an agreement with the Marcoses, represented by former first lady Imelda Marcos and former Rep. Roquito Ablan, in bringing Marcos’ remains to the Philippines.
Marcos died in his exile in Hawaii in 1989 after being ousted from his presidency in 1986.
Martial law victims reminded gov’t about deal
“(The) prior (agreement between the Marcoses) and former President Fidel V. Ramos, in a very particular and sensible sense, settled the matter for all,” said Boni Ilagan, lead convener of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses to Malacañang (Carmma), in a text message.
Former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello said that Duterte’s government does not seem to be on the same track as the deal signed during the Ramos era.
“The problem is that these conditions should’ve been legislated. The lesson here is, whenever you deal with sensitive issues, you legislate it,” Bello said.
Martial law survivors in Davao called on Duterte to have Marcos buried in Ilocos, saying that having the late dictator buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani was “much too painful” and “totally revolting.”