So Marcos now officially a hero, and martial law just a nightmare?
Former chief justice Artemio Panganiban’s Inquirer columns contribute immensely to enlightening citizens about their rights and the rule of law. I just wish there were translations of his columns, at least, in Tagalog and Bisaya, for a wider appreciation of them among Filipinos.
His March 5 column, “Judicial heroes and villains,” prompted me to look up Ocampo vs Enriquez. After reading through the decision, though, I’m afraid my bias against Ferdinand Marcos led me to a conclusion entirely different from his.
Was the deposed dictator conferred a hero’s status with the burial? With all the ceremonial pomp (a 21-gun salute, horses and carriages, guards in formal white and a marble grave) that attended the burial, as directed by President Duterte, it is hard not to see it any other way. Today, an everlasting torch marks the Marcos grave—an ironic reminder to all freedom-loving citizens that “rust” never sleeps, and now the rust has morphed into a monstrous tumor in the form of extrajudicial killings.
Will the undeserved elevation of Marcos to a hero status hurt the Philippines and its people? Are we saying world opinion on Marcos was wrong all along? Was there really wholesale plunder, torture, atrocity, abuse and murder in the martial law era? Did we just imagine Edsa 1986? Is the divisiveness that now engulfs the country not a direct result of the Supreme Court decision on Marcos burial?
The legalese used to justify the burial is all gobbledygook.
How could the three justices who voted for the recovery of the Marcos ill-gotten wealth (Estate of Marcos vs Republic) allow a hero’s burial for Marcos? And it is hard not to think that the nine justices who voted for Marcos’ burial at the Libingan ng mga Bayani were influenced by President Duterte.
We know Duterte idolizes Marcos and somehow needs to repay the dictator for giving Duterte’s father a Cabinet seat. But is that justice? Most of the nine justices may have also served the government in some capacity during the martial law regime and needed to repay Marcos.
Where is justice? In some circles, it could just be a word. Looking at today’s happenings, check and balance might just mean a cheque deposited in a bank, thus raising the balance of somebody’s account. Take the case of the two BI commissioners caught red-handed on CCTV accepting P50 million in cash, or of police officers caught red-handed
extorting money, none of them held accountable for a crime.
These are symptoms of the continuing decay of the justice system. Meantime, the citizens are disillusioned. Some were found dead with a warning sign on their corpses, “Huwag tularan”; or an explanation, “Nanlaban.”
This is the year of living brave. Citizens have to demand from those entrusted with power, that this is a duty and responsibility (I hope today’s generation becomes aware that the quote comes from the French philosopher Voltaire not from Stan Lee’s “Nuff Said”).
I sincerely believe that written words remain a guiding force that awakens bravery in the citizenry. We have to push freedom and the rule of law, something the citizen urgently needs in an environment where death and impunity are norms.
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