Last Nov. 8, the Supreme Court decided that former president Ferdinand Marcos deserves to be given the honor of being buried in the hallowed grounds of the Libingan ng mga Bayani on the basis of a policy that allows soldiers to be buried in that cemetery. What could have been a historic opportunity to make a decision upholding human rights and justice turned into an ignominious and supreme injustice to the Filipino people.
Marcos was not an ordinary soldier; he was a tyrannical dictator who imposed martial law on the Philippines and unleashed a reign of terror for 13 years, leaving on its wake the murder, torture and rape of thousands of Filipinos who resisted the dictatorship. His ill-gotten wealth for his family and friends robbed the Philippine government of billions of pesos and continues to be the object of investigation and court proceedings here and abroad. By dismantling the democratic institutions of the country during martial law, he plunged the country into its lowest political, economic and cultural abyss.
To this day, the Marcos family has neither shown any remorse nor admitted guilt despite the global condemnation of the massive human rights violations committed by their patriarch. With arrogance and impunity, they have initiated a campaign to distort history, reinvent the Marcos years as the golden years in Philippine history, and declare Marcos as a national hero. In this project, the Supreme Court has proven to be an effective accomplice.
To honor him as a hero is mocking the thousands of victims who died and those who were tortured and continue to suffer because they fought and resisted the dictatorship;
To honor him is to say that the massive human rights violations committed by the Marcos regime with impunity; the unprecedented plunder of our country’s resources and the destruction of our democratic institutions never really happened in our recent history;
To honor him as a hero is to deny that the Filipino people exercising their sovereign will, ousted the dictatorship for his crimes against the people during the 1986 People Power Revolution;
Lastly, to honor Marcos is to dishonor the dignity, legitimacy and the very credibility of the Supreme Court itself as an institution that stands for fairness and justice.
We urge the nine Supreme Court justices who supported this decision to reflect on the impact of their decision on the thousands who died and those who are tortured and are reliving their suffering and to consider the future of the Supreme Court, whose credibility has been seriously eroded because of this unjust decision.
As an institution of learning that values VERITAS (truth), peace, justice and the integrity of creation, we will continue to promote an enlightened and critical understanding of the struggles of Filipinos against martial law and the historic redemption of our freedoms and human rights in the People Power Revolution where Maryknoll/ Miriam College was an active participant.
We promise to promote Philippine history from the prism of those who struggled to fight for democracy and not from the revisionist version of those who are now trying to systematically distort and conceal the brutal realities of the past.
We commit ourselves to always remember and never forget the bitter lessons of the past so we can continue to build a future for the next generations based on respect for human rights, fundamental freedoms and dignity of the Filipino people.
PROF. AURORA DE DIOS, executive director, Women and Gender Institute; DR. JASMIN NARIO-GALACE, executive director, Center for Peace Education; CARLO GARCIA, executive director, Environmental Studies Institute; NIKAELA CORTEZ, president, Sanggunian ng mga Mag-aaral ng Miriam